5 min readLifestyle 24 June 2020
There is no shortage of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the economic and health adjustments we are all scrambling to make, a deluge of new challenges that have yet to be considered still looms around the corner.
As we navigate our way through these rough waters of financial hardships, stress, and anxiety, let's make sure to maintain our sense of control and handle the problems that we are empowered to solve. The best way to do this is by reevaluating our finances, focusing on our long-term goals, and reflecting inward on our own identities.
From a corporate securities lawyer and an investment banker to an entrepreneur and stay-at-home mom, I've reinvented myself many times over. Some changes were for the better, others not so much. I've found that the key to making solid transitions is to start them in a quiet place like the unique setting of the quarantine.
From a corporate securities lawyer and an investment banker to an entrepreneur and stay-at-home mom, I've reinvented myself many times over.
With mouths to feed, bills to pay, and immune systems to protect, taking stock on the bigger picture might seem like a low priority at the moment, but it really shouldn't be. Ultimately, who we choose to be — either in business, in wealth, in family, or just plain spiritually — will determine our paths forward out of this crisis. Amid the chaos and loss of control, our own sense of self is one of the few things we can control. Plus, sheltering in place gives us a unique opportunity to do some personal observation, self-reflection, introspection, and evaluation because we're not losing time in the dash to in-person meetings and child soccer practices.
The first question that a lot of us get stuck on is: Where do we start? Having gone through several personal and professional re-inventions myself, I have found great value in beginning with a deep exploration into my hierarchy of values. This consists of the following important questions:
- What's important to my emotional development as a person?
- What's important to my economic goals?
- What's important to my interpersonal relations and social/ethical perspective?
All three are equally important and must be looked at holistically and practically. We can stand back and look at our lives as they were pre-coronavirus and examine if we were happy and if our finances survived. In our society, we seem to be perpetually busy, and for many of us, this outbreak has been a hard stop, forcing us to spend time with our loved ones, get comfortable being alone, and taking a moment to think about the things that really matter.
Ultimately, who we choose to be — either in business, in wealth, in family or just plain spiritually — will determine our paths forward out of this crisis.
Using this time to think about how your financial situation held up, ask yourself what areas can be improved upon. Did you have enough in your savings to cover a couple months of bills if you were to get furloughed from your job? Did you notice how much less money you were spending on frivolous things like your morning coffee? Taking this time to reflect and thoroughly comb through your spending habits and fiscal well-being will help you plan for the future and give you the knowledge and tools you need to make better choices after this is all over.
Having more idle time also allows us to enjoy ordinary activities such as reading, yoga, exercise, painting, listening to music, cooking, and reconnecting with our interests. Instead of succumbing to the pressure and uncertainty, embrace the stillness and relearn how to be thoughtful.
Just because the pandemic is tragic — and, of course, it certainly is — does not mean that it is not also a great chance to spend more time together, talk without rushing, and determine how we can continue this in a post-coronavirus environment. There may be wonderful recalibrations to consider which never would have been possible during the rat race of the so-called "normal" life we used to know.
We should all examine the strengths of our relationships and family to gauge how we are surviving as partners, parents, friends and/or professionals. In this state of quiet, what do we value, and how do we prioritize it amongst all the other noise?
While contemplating that answer, it is important not to undervalue your career goals. Often, women will assume financial freedom and professional ambition are lower priorities because of societal pressures. However, though we are free to choose other values as higher priorities, that does not mean that we have to.
To adjust your career path, take this opportunity to learn new skills, and pursue interests that have been on the back burner. The internet is full of how-to videos and video-networking and coaching platforms that are just a click or swipe away. Use it as a tool for reinvention — not just a vehicle for killing time as we wait for the economy to reopen. Set specific and achievable financial goals taking one step at a time so as not to get overwhelmed and give up on your strategy in frustration.
In this state of quiet, what do we value, and how do we prioritize it amongst all the other noise?
Personally, I am rethinking my daily schedule from pre-coronavirus times. I have been taking a four- to five-mile walk at least four times a week, and I am committed to continuing that after we resume our new-normal lives. I am going to make exercise a non-negotiable priority. It clears my mind and gives me a positive attitude.
It is so important that you have good nutrition, get regular sleep, have regular physical exercise, have some downtime, nurture your spirit, and have some fun with the positive people in your life. Intentional self-care will reap many benefits, and it will increase your energy and sharpen your financial focus.
We all should be looking at our lives as a whole and reflecting on what changes we can be making to provide for a better tomorrow. In all our busyness, it's too easy to lose track of what is really important. The excuse, "I don't have time," is no longer an option. For me, it's health, free time to pursue my interests, and family. What is important to you?
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It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.