Many of my followers on Twitter ask for my opinion about the current world issues we are facing. From COVID & the pandemic to the political polarization of what started off as acceptable viewpoints led to becoming ideological extremes. All these issues converge into one familiar aspect of life that time and time again repeats itself; uncertainty. But this uncertainty we are facing is accommodated with change. An unprecedented change that makes the uncertainty all the more terrifying. This post is intended to lay out a guide on how one should act during unpredictable changes in uncertain times. It also assumes that you have no responsibility to anyone outside yourself and that there are no obligations you have to meet. Those who are in a position of being responsible for others may also benefit from this post but will find themselves compromising accordingly.
It is the nature of life to go through good and hard times. We each have belief systems and ideologies that guide and have an impact on transitioning the two phases and as a result, create a society that reflects two phases accordingly.
The two belief systems are necessary. It creates a push pull effect that maintains a dialectic harmony, motivating society to progress. It is an absolute necessity to have thoughts and belief systems challenged, for it allows dialogue to seek truth, and truth is what brings about progress.
Where things go wrong is when people employ political polarization that transforms ordinary, useful viewpoints into ideological extremes. When two opposing forces equip themselves with ideological extremes, truth is no longer relevant and a war for domination begins.
And this is what we are currently facing.
We are in left bottom quarter and about to enter hard times.
A Steady Stream Of Income
If you were made redundant or lost your job due to the COVID lock downs, then the first thing you should focus on is finding a steady stream of income. Because income provides routine and insulates you from being at the mercy of misery during uncertainty. Doesn’t matter how you interpret the current world events, no job means no income. Finding a job does not mean you should ‘finally pursue that entrepreneurial dream’ or that ‘billion dollar idea’ you’ve left on the shelf for years. It means finding a job with the objective of providing yourself a steady income.
This sounds simple, but many people are scattered all over the place during times of uncertainty and try to pursue several things all at once. If you want to be effective, you need to address your worry of financial insecurity. You don’t have to love the job. This is a temporary objective to address a short term concern. Your effectiveness of sorting yourself out and structuring your life according to uncertain change is dependent on a steady stream of income. It is one routine you must automate and keep in check.
Sort your finances
Create a column and label it as “Wants”. Then create another and label it as “Needs”. Go through your bank statement and allocate all your transactions on paper according to what fits under those labels. Anything that reflects a ‘Want’ (shopping, subscriptions, take-outs etc) will fall under this column. I consider a gym membership and a phone plan along with bills, mortgage and rent to fall under the ‘Need’ column.
Now calculate what each column amounts to.
The percentage of your income allocated to “Needs” should not exceed 50%.
The percentage of your income allocated to “Wants” should be below 15%.
That means you should be striving to save 35% of your income every week/fortnight/month.
The picture on the right is your ‘above average’ person in terms of frugality with their money.
Before COVID, my savings/wants/needs respectively were 15% | 24% | 61%.
During COVID, I managed to re-organize it to 29% | 13% | 58%.
‘Hard times create strong men’. This is your opportunity to strengthen yourself by living below your means, being frugal and resourceful, while cutting out everything that does not contribute to your survival.
Change is inevitable. Chaos and uncertainty accelerates it. Order and structure decelerates it. Just because ‘changes’ are being politicized, doesn’t mean you should resist and stay the way you are. This doesn’t mean for you to be a sheep and do exactly as you’re told. There’s a difference between adapting and following orders blindly. For example, there is literally zero downsides to wearing a mask. Wear it. “Masks rob you from your individualism!” is the stupidest thing I’ve heard. Stop adopting other people’s thinking. If they politicize a health matter, then try to think objectively so you can reach your own unbiased conclusion;
There’s a virus going around. Wearing a mask has the ability to prevent transmission more than not wearing a mask. So wear it.
“Please stay home during lock down and enjoy your time indoors. Watch Netflix and get UberEats”. I literally heard a health official say this on the news channel. This is an example of following orders like a sheep. What you should do instead, is cancel subscriptions that don’t help you progress and cook your own meals. Time’s of uncertainty is when you should live well below your means and and cut out everything unnecessary from your life.
Your Political Opinion
Don’t express it. They really want to know? Show a centrist point of view. Support the right, support the left. Show an understanding that both viewpoints need to co-exist for progress and that both have pros and cons. Pick your side privately, and work in silent.
After you have structured your life (cut out all the unnecessary ‘wants’ and have set up a steady stream of income), you need to then allocate your time to what matters most. There’s three things I value most that I would spend my spare time on;
- Positional ascension in my line of work
- Begin a startup
- Network with like minded people
My choice for picking to Network is based on several assumptions.
You should Network if;
- You’re in a job that has no opportunity for ascension.
- You have no startup ideas that you’re already invested in.
- You are living in uncertain times.
I think building a network is a priority during uncertain times. Because during uncertainty, people show their true colors. Their neuroticism kicks in and they begin to behave irrationally. Those who remain rational and calm are the rare few who begin to stand out. Create an online presence with a brand that aligns with your value offering. Provide value so you can develop credibility. Meeting like-minded people and forming a friendship on the basis of value-exchange is priceless, not to mention the doors it opens up for your future startup ideas.
If you do have a job with opportunities to move up, then you should solely focus on that while building connections with the relevant people in your field. If you are already invested in a startup, then you should continue building it as long as it doesn’t affect your finances to the extent that it puts you in hardship. Also keep in mind during uncertain times, credit lending is restricted as the economy slows down while investors seek to place their money in safe haven assets. Your chances of getting funding for your extremely risky startup is very low. In saying that, the best time for startups to launch is at the end of recessions. So an ideal scenario would be for you to develop your startup in the least expensive possible way while building connections and situating yourself for a possible launch post-recession.
What to Invest in
With all the money you are saving now (since you don’t watch Netflix or get take-outs with UberEats anymore), the question is; what should you invest it in? I am not a financial planner, nor an advisor to tell you how you should invest your money. Property is what I invest in. I understand buying your own property is out of the question for most people, but I would work to save a deposit and make that my aim. Financial instruments such as REITS is another great way to get exposure to property assets.
I don’t invest in the stock market, mostly because I like owning tangible assets, and mildly because I think the stock market is currently inflated. But I’m not an analyst and I could be wrong. If you’re a long term holder, the S&P500 has practically been going up since forever. So do your own research before deciding. Don’t be so eager to invest when you don’t know what to invest in. It’s true that ‘you should buy when there’s blood on the streets’ but this paraphrased statement from Rothchild is predicated on the fact that you have considerable knowledge and experience in what asset you’re about to buy.
Also, you shouldn’t think about investing unless you have saved at least 6 months worth of emergency fund. That means if your monthly ‘Needs’ expenses amount to $2,000, then you should have $12,000 in cash sitting as emergency or invested in very-low risk financial products that you’re able to liquidate over 1-3 days. Anything else you make as surplus to your emergency fund, can then be subject to investing.
Invest in yourself
Times of uncertainty brings out your negative emotions. It is a good time to understand yourself, the choices you make and the emotions you feel. Those who come out on top are calm and do not make choices under the influence of negative emotions. Understanding your level of neuroticism can provide priceless knowledge on how to adapt in times of uncertainties. The method I developed involving shadow integration is key to getting your negative emotions under control. It is a subject matter that I will be writing in my monthly articles. Join THE LOBBY , where it’s fast becoming a place of well engaged individuals that discuss the articles, shadow integration, world events, while getting access to my consultations.