In Times of Turmoil

In Times of Turmoil

I don’t think anyone would be confident in saying that they are comfortable in times of turmoil. Whether we’re talking about finances or family, by definition, turmoil is a distruptive force that can shake the “norm”. Though we are currently facing a “time of turmoil” as COVID-19 isolation and economic factors play their role in dustrupting our normal way of life, this blog post is less to do with what is going on outside our front doors, and more to do with how we learn from this experience.

There will be a time when we look back on this crisis, however long it lasts, and a number of things may come to mind. For some, the memories may focus in on the hardship of unemployment and family struggles. For others, they’ll remember the endless TikTok videos about how people are creatively using their obscene amounts of toilet paper. The question I will be asking myself when we return to a period of normality, is “how did I grow through this change?”

I am a person who thrives during stress. When I was a paramedic in Sudbury, I loved the high stakes calls, because it gave me a chance to use the skills I had spent years learning. When we finished a high-stress call, we would often have a period of discussion, called a debrief. It allowed us a chance to talk openly about the call, but it also gave us an opportunity to grow and improve our craft. We would discuss the positives and negatives of the situation, with the goal being to make sure that next time we experienced a situation of turmoil, we were better prepared to face it.

So the question I pose to you, the reader, is this. Imagine we are sitting in a coffee shop in a year’s time. I’m drinking a decaf mocha, we’re still laughing about how Trudeau said “speaking moistly” on live television, and everything is back to “normal”. What would you want to have happened in your life, both personally and professionally, to be able to say, “I grew through the experience and I came out on the other side in better shape than I started.”? For me, I am working at continuing my business as best I can, but I am also using this time to better connect with my family while we’re all together (excluding my brother, who is stuck in Ottawa).

My last “time of turmoil”, was during the time I lived in Alberta. And though it does not compare to the experience we are having as a community, I still came away from my time there having learned important lessons. I worked at a car dealership. Making a long story short, I came away from that experience having learned that money is not worth the sacrifices I was making. That principle has made it easier for me to focus on my new goal of connecting with my family. It takes the edge off of the burden of financial worry, and instead lets me focus on building my business to be client-focused, rather than income-driven.

The bottom line is that change is inevitable. Some of us will change for the better, some will fail to adapt. My advice for those who have a plan, whether financially or personally, is to stick to the plan. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my Dad (who probably got it from someone else, but that’s not important). He said, “Never doubt what you know to be true in the light, when you can’t see it in the dark”. In the world of financial advising, I stress to clients that we “stick to the plan”. But the lesson is true outside of your finances. Take this time to evaluate the goals you had for yourself. Dig up the old “bucket list” and explore how you can achieve those goals and tie up those loose ends. I know that I have a partially finished bachelor’s degree, and this might be the time to finish that part of my education.

However you are dealing with the COVID crisis, start answering the question from the coffee shop. Turn this “turmoil” into a time of opportunity! Start working on the small things that will give you the peace of mind to answer the question, “I’m proud of myself.”

The First Jump

The First Jump

Saving is hard work. For most families, it can be hard to adopt the “Live tomorrow on today’s dollars” mentality. The reality is that most Canadian families live paycheck to paycheck. Even if you believe that you should be saving for retirement (or other goals), it can be overwhelming to understand where that money comes. How do you live tomorrow on today’s dollars if you can hardly live today with today’s dollars?

This is where a new mentality comes into play.

They say the hardest dollar to save is the first dollar. Like diving boards at a swimming pool, that first jump in the water is the most terrifying as a child. You stand on the edge of the water, and your mind is focused on fear. “What happens if I slip? Will my head come above the water? Will I be okay?”

That first jump teaches you a critical lesson. You can do it, and it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. That experience leads to higher and higher jumps, and before you know it, you’re at the top of the ladder looking down and wondering why you were scared in the first place.

Saving for your future begins with the first commitment to jump. It takes courage and it takes discipline.