How to Find Some Stability in the Face of Pandemic Uncertainty

Hindsight is 20/20, and 2020 will soon be behind us. Thank goodness. This year, we’ve felt more isolated at home and less secure in our jobs than we have in a long time, if ever. Coronavirus cases have spiked ever higher, but there’s hope on the horizon: Several vaccines have been through positive trials and may soon be available to the public. 

It might feel like we’re in a holding pattern in the meantime, but we’re not helpless. We’ve learned how to navigate this strange new world over the past nearly-a-year. We’ve each created our own brand-new form of stability, balancing work and home life even when we find they’re suddenly operating from the same platform: our house/apartment.

So, there’s no better time than now to revisit and cement what we’ve learned, with an eye toward adapting again when new opportunities arise. Here are suggestions for staying stable, maintaining focus, and moving ahead, even as we look for a light at the end of the tunnel.

Out with the old…

The new year is the perfect time to re-evaluate how you’re using your home space — especially if it’s now also your workspace and your kids’ school space. 

Chances are, this kind of consolidation has forced you to get rid of some things. But maybe some things are still in the way, and maybe you’re accumulating more junk (wrapping paper, packaging, boxes, etc.) that you’ll need to toss once all those gifts are opened. 

If you’re inundated with trash and clutter and things you don’t need, think about renting an affordable dumpster to clear it all away. Starting fresh with fewer things to deal with can stabilize your mood as well as your home life.

In with the new…

As the calendar changes, it’s also a good time to revisit your financial situation. Health insurance enrollment dates, for example, are easy to remember. But while you’re setting calendar reminders, it’s worth considering your auto insurance, too.

In 2020, many auto insurers gave their customers rebates because they weren’t driving as much. But the pandemic won’t last forever, and rates will be changing, so it’s worth taking a moment to reassess your auto coverage. 

Investigate to find out how much insurance you’ll need; what your rates might be considering your age, location, and other risk factors; and of course, what you can afford. Nail it down, and it will be one less thing to stress about in the new year. 

New goals

Yes, the future remains unclear. We don’t know when we’ll be able to reopen everything (or anything), or what things will look like when we do. But that shouldn’t stop us from taking inventory of our lives.

New year’s resolutions can be clichés, but they don’t have to be. Take a few moments to jot down some meaningful and achievable goals you can work toward, both in the short and long term. Figuring out what you want from life can help you move forward when opportunities present themselves — and to make those opportunities regardless of the difficulties you face.

Networking

The virus situation is likely to change in 2021, and hopefully for the better. Many of us have been stuck at home, working remotely, during the pandemic, and may have fallen out of touch with key people in our lives — family, friends, co-workers, clients.

Whether you’re an independent contractor, or working part- or full-time for an employer, you’ll need to restore and cement those contacts moving forward. Shore up your network through emails, phone calls, Facetime, and Zoom, in preparation for a time when you’ll be able to meet face-to-face again.

And don’t forget your family. If you’ve been missing your traditional get-togethers (Thanksgiving dinner, camping trips, weekend barbecues, and reunions), make it a point to reconnect. If there are obstacles, identify them and find ways to overcome them. Safely.

Expanding your horizons

New year, new skill. There are plenty of digital learning opportunities, ranging from massive open online courses to online degrees and beyond. Take advantage of your time at home while you still have it to learn a new skill or take your expertise to the next level.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that versatility and stability are different sides of the same coin. Staying capable, versatile, and nimble can prepare us to weather crises when they come our way, finding balance amid the changes and using them to our advantage. 

So whether you’re cross-training within your company or acquiring a new skill for a side hustle or new career path, remember that adapting and improving are both your building blocks for stability and your gateway to opportunity.

No surprises!

Now that things are getting more stable, do what you can to keep them that way. The virus may be one of the biggest crises we’ll face in our lifetimes, but it won’t be the only one. One thing’s for sure: Things you count on are bound to break down. You can’t keep that from happening, but you can make sure you’re prepared.

If you purchase a home warranty, you’ll be protecting yourself against that unexpected big bill that busts your budget. Home warranties cover things like HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems, along with major appliances like your dishwasher. 

It might seem like we’ve been stuck in a rut, thanks to the virus, for as long as we can remember, but that’s how it always feels when things aren’t going the way we’d like. The truth is, we’ll find a way through this, and when we do, we’ll want to be ready for what lies ahead. Instead of feeling bogged down, look with hope toward the future: 2021, here we come!

By Ann Lloyd, Student Savings Guide

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