How to survive difficult times…

A letter to my children.

I don’t want to overdramatize things, but it feels that our life is now divided into two periods of time: before and after we encountered COVID-19. The life before the pandemic appears fairly easy and careless. Don’t get me wrong – I know that we still had to make a living, pay the bills, fight the traffic, worry about relationships, and so on. At the same time, we were frivolously taking trips, planning adventures in exotic places, eating out, and accumulating unnecessary debt. We didn’t concern ourselves with wars, epidemics, and shortages and our slogan was: “What, me worry?” 

By the way, I don’t apply this just to the inexperienced new generations, but to most of us, encompassing those who know first hand how difficult, unpredictable and dangerous life can be. This includes myself, as well.

In the early 2020 our world was changed significantly. Now we see friends and family only via video chats, we wear face masks and gloves when venturing outside, we wait in line to enter food stores, and treasure our toilet paper rolls. Most importantly, we are afraid to catch the bug, and get our family members killed. We are also worried about our ability to make a living: our employers may not be able to pay salaries, the previously solid investments are wilting, and business revenue is melting right in front of our eyes.

This brings me to the main point – how can we reinvent ourselves to survive in the world of 20% unemployment, shuttered businesses, volatile investment markets and astronomical levels of debt?

I suggest that we go back to the basics and take lessons from our immigrant past: 

Don’t waste time – sooner or later you will be sorry that you had played too many video games, smoked too much pot and didn’t use the time wisely. 

Develop “Plan B” and “C” for your sources of income. One day your main job will disappear and you will have to fall back on some other skills and businesses you may have created by then.

Save money – your dispensable income should be used as a “strategic reserve”, because there will be a day when you and your family will need the savings really badly. 

Limit your spending – you really don’t need to drive fancy cars, live in large houses, eat in famous restaurants, accumulate toys, shiny objects and brand-name stuff.

Beware of debt – this is one of the most dangerous drugs known to the modern person. Debt is easy to get into and very difficult to get rid of. While we can’t live without some debt, we need to respect its ability to hurt us.

Rely on yourselves – the government will not help you much. Your parents love you and want to help, BUT – there is a clear limit to what they can help with, especially given the current financial climate. In fact, you may find yourselves in a position where you will need to help your parents, not the other way around.

Always be ready – we have seen how quickly and dramatically our civilization can be damaged by a microscopic living organism, which has appeared seeming out of nowhere. We will find the cure for COVID-19, I am certain of that. However, a similar enemy may attack us in the future and we will have to fight for our survival.

Be patient and persevere – if something doesn’t go your way it only means that you have to try it again by using a different approach.

Take care of yourself and each other – during the time of trouble there will be few people you can depend on. Treasure your relationships, love and help one another.

Hopefully, you will read this and accept it as a useful advice, rather than a typical parental “white noise”. Would love to discuss it further and look forward to talking to you about it.