The COVID-19 Corona Virus single-handedly destroyed my wife’s entire income in one fell swoop. It has resulted in many wondering what their next move would be.
Have you ever had to ask yourself, “Now what am I going to do?” I have. No matter what the reason behind it is, it can be an extremely stressful time.
Over the last 35 years, I’ve had to ask myself “Now what am I going to do?” on several different occasions. Each time, it seemed like my whole world had come crashing down around me. Each time, I made it through. I’m better today than I was then and I have some pointers that can most likely help you make it through too.
It’s A Weird, Scary Time No One Has Ever Experienced
As I am writing this, the world as we know it has been shutting down around us due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Several American states have put out shelter-in-place orders. In my State of Colorado, all non-essential businesses have been shut down. This means dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, schools, churches, beauty salons, drinking establishments, fraternal organizations, etc have all shut down. The employee’s who were dependent upon those businesses are all stuck at home and are no longer receiving a paycheck.
Two days ago, there was a line of cars around my bank that was at least 30 deep. I’ve never seen anything like it. There were social media reports of fist fights in that line. Absolutely unbelievable. Maybe not to the level of what we see in The Walking Dead but definitely dialed up a notch from what we are used to.
Before the viripocalypse, it was possible to see someone in public with an open-carry firearm every so often but it wasn’t common by any stretch. I went into Wal-Mart the other day and counted three different people with open-carry firearms. If there were that many in the open, I guarantee you there were more I didn’t see. My wife saw a guy at Wal-Mart today that had a rifle slung while he was shopping. Strange days indeed. It’s a very scary and stressful time for many to say the least.
The Stress Has Proven To Be Too Much To Bear For Some
Our local police department released a statement yesterday saying they had closed the Interstate due to a suicide. A trucking company had called and said they couldn’t get in touch with their driver and his truck was pulled over on the side of the road. Unbeknownst to responding officers, the driver was despondent and suicidal. As the responding officers opened the door to the semi, a shot rang out. The driver had committed suicide right in front of them. How horrible! How horrible for the driver. How horrible for the officers that had to witness it. How horrible for the friends and family of the driver. It all happened in a matter of seconds and will most likely haunt many for the rest of their lives.
If the stress you are going through right now feels that heavy or feels like it could get that heavy, please know there are trained professionals standing by who would love to help you through this extremely tough time. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number in the United States is 1-800-273-8255. You can call it 24/7/365.
What In The Hell Just Happened To Me?
The year was 1987. I had graduated high school the year before and enrolled in college. I had my sights set on becoming a law enforcement officer. In an effort to achieve that goal, one of the classes I had enrolled in was Emergency Communications Dispatching.
During one of the classes, the local fire chief came in and said he was looking for dispatchers. This was it! This was my opportunity to get my foot in the door! I quickly expressed my interest. I was hired and extremely excited about starting my law enforcement career. I would be on probation in this position for six months.
My job included dispatching for the local Sheriff’s Office, County Fire Department, Ambulance Service and others.
Much to my surprise (and dismay), my immediate supervisor, the head of the dispatch unit, was not a fan of the Sheriff’s Office or law enforcement in general. Apparently, she had children who had been caught breaking the law on multiple occasions and she was mad at law enforcement (instead of herself) because of it.
Only one day before my six months were up I had worked a graveyard shift. I got off at 8:00am that morning. My supervisor walked in and called me into her office. I was terminated. She told me she had received multiple complaints from the Sheriff’s Office about how I had been performing my duties.
I was completely devastated. I drove home and sat there in my car. Thoughts about what had just happened swirled around in my head like tornadic winds in a wind tunnel. Then it hit me. If I had been fired due to complaints from the Sheriff’s Office, I needed to verify that for my own mental well-being.
I immediately drove to the Sheriff’s Office that morning and requested a meeting with the Sheriff. The Sheriff was unavailable but I was able to meet with the Undersheriff. He didn’t know what I was talking about and immediately offered me a job working as a Detention Officer in the jail. Of course, I gladly accepted. What had initially appeared to be the end of the world a few hours earlier, had turned out to be a move up on the rungs of the career ladder I had in my mind.
What In The Hell Just Happened To Me Again?
In 2005, I moved to Colorado, passed the real estate exam on my first attempt and got my real estate license. I had cashed in every penny I had saved and was mentally prepared to make a small fortune. I wasn’t prepared for the desk fees, association fees, licensing fees, marketing fees and every other damn fee associated with being a real estate agent. Everyone sees the huge commissions but no one ever sees the associated costs with being a real estate agent. It isn’t all it appears to be. That’s a fact!
Three months into it, I had burned through a LOT of money and had only closed on one very tiny deal. It was time for me to find a paying job again and get back on track financially. But, where was I going to start? One thing was for sure, that loud sucking sound was all of my hard-earned savings shooting out the door on a daily basis to cover all of the expenses. I severed all ties with the real estate world immediately to stop the bleeding.
Now, it was time to find a paycheck and find it fast. The first thing I had to do was come to grips with the fact I wasn’t in a position to be picky.
I found an old briefcase, cleaned it up and filled it with a stack of resumes I had printed off at the local library. I donned a suit from a second-hand store, clipped my fingernails and had my wife trim up my hair. Then, I went to the furthest end of the busiest road in town. My plan was to go into every business I saw, look the owner or manager straight in the eye, greet them with a firm handshake and a big smile, give them my best sales pitch. My plan was to keep rocking it until someone hired me. I started early and had every intention of continuing the hunt until I had found success.
That afternoon, my phone rang. It was the manager of a furniture store I had been in earlier in the morning. He wanted to know if I could come back in for an interview. I told him I could be there in fifteen minutes. I made it there in ten and I got the job.
Was it a career move? Had I always wanted to be a furniture salesman? Did I plan on doing it until it was time to retire? Hell no! Twenty-four hours before that, the furniture salesman gig wasn’t even on my radar. It was a stop-gap. I needed cash and I needed it now. I had a wife and kids who were depending on me to put food on their table and I was failing miserably. All bets were off. I was doing what I needed to do to make it happen.
Build Your Mote
In his excellent book, My Life & 1,000 Houses, Mitch Stephen explains the importance of building a financial mote around your life. Figure out exactly what your expenses are. Exactly how much it takes to keep your family housed, fed, clothed, doctored, etc.
Once you have that number, if you are unemployed and don’t have any income coming in, finding income is your first order of business. You aren’t in a position to pick and choose here. Get out there and find whatever is going to put money in your pocket.
Are you flat broke and don’t have a penny to your name? If so, you don’t have free time right now. When you aren’t working, you are spending time figuring out how and where you are going to make money, any money and then as soon as you can move up a rung on your financial ladder. You don’t have time for TV, picnics and parties right now. You don’t have expendable income for movies, pizza, beer and cigarettes right now. Get your head above water first.
You can access Facebook, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc for free from your local library. Go there, get on the local community groups, introduce yourself, explain your situation, list everything you can possibly think of that you can do to earn an income and leave your contact information in the posts. Remember, you increase your odds of success with each additional group you post in. Put it out there.
You will most likely find an immediate income somewhere that day. If you don’t, take a page out of my book above. Get a $5 suit from Goodwill or the DAV, comb your hair, clean and trim your fingernails, print out some resumes (make sure they have your contact info), muster up your best smile and start at one end of town. Go get a job.
Any job at this point. You can level up tomorrow but you just need “something” today. When someone gives you a shot, don’t forget that. Show them respect. Don’t leave them holding the bag when it comes time to move up a rung or two.
Continue to repeat this process until you have moved up enough rungs to cover your mote.
Once you have your basics covered, know that the rug could be pulled out from under you at any time. You could be fired. Another Coronavirus could strike. Zombies could happen. Who knows what!? Just start preparing for it.
Think about this. Everyone who had built a successful Internet business from their home in their spare time before the Coronavirus hit, still had an income when all of those other people got sent home due to it.
Build your mote and then build your safety net.
When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough JUST ROCK IT!
Bad things are going to happen in your life. Even REALLY bad things will probably happen. It’s inevitable. The ebb and flow of life is just all part of it. Chuck Swindoll said life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. I believe that with every fiber of my being and you should too.
If you are concerned with that 90% part, start by exchanging your input. Instead of watching Game of Thrones, watch, read or listen to something Tony Robbins has published. Instead of going to the movie theatre and spending thirty bucks, spend that time on something Zig Ziglar put out when he was still with us. Instead of going to the bar, go read (or re-read) The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz. After a while, you will begin to be amazed with the difference. What you put into your head will begin to come back out in every aspect of your life.
If you are currently experiencing one of the toughest times of your life right now, I’m truly sorry for that. Know it isn’t the end of the world. Grab your boot straps and go make something happen. MAKE. IT. HAPPEN. Figure out what “it” is as you are moving forward. Just keep moving forward. Just Rock It!