The Upsides of Coronavirus

I don’t usually write about current events because I don’t necessarily think that yet another semi-informed opinion floating around is of much value. This time the event is easily actionable on a personal level, though, and I’m personally doing what I can to make the best of the situation, so I figured I’d share.

Before I get started, I want to recognize that some people are suffering and dying, many more are scared, and just about everyone is going to be affected financially. In the short term this is going to be very bad for a lot of people and at least somewhat bad for all of us.

Like most people I have older family members I’m concerned about, and as you can imagine my business was hit to an extreme level. My income is actually negative this month because all I’ve been doing for the past 30 days is canceling cruises. I don’t invest a ton in the stock market, but my retirement accounts took a hit, too. I mention this to put my next few points in context.

Despite all this, I think that over the long term coronavirus may end up being one of the most positive events for humans in recent history. I understand that that sounds crazy or hyperbolic, but I don’t think it is.

Las Vegas is dark tonight and will remain so for weeks. If you drive down the strip, the casino lights are off and the doors are closed. The last time this happened was 1963 and it was just for a few hours to mourn JFK. In some cities nearly every business is shut down. More people are working from home than any time in human history. I don’t have actual numbers but we must be polluting less on a daily basis than we have in decades.

We are collecting data that could never otherwise be collected. We will be able to measure our impact on parts of the environment in ways we otherwise never could. Does working from home work in big, medium, and small companies? We’re about to find out. I suspect that scientists are going to be using data from this period for decades. We will also learn about the costs of shutting down for a pandemic and best practices, ensuring that the next one isn’t so bad.

Despite being against both in years past, I am now in favor of universal healthcare and universal basic income. I think that the times for both have come, and for this reason am a massive Andrew Yang fan and was really disappointed that he didn’t do better in the primaries. Now you have everyone from AOC to Romney and Trump in favor of at least temporary UBI. Even getting it temporarily for a few months will give us insight into how it actually works. I believe that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of both universal healthcare and UBI by many years and for this reason it will most likely save more lives than it takes.

Whether you share my views on the upsides of this pandemic or not, you are probably also in a very unique situation right now and should do your best to take advantage of it.

I like to travel and am almost never in the same place for more than two weeks. The last time I can remember staying in one place was in 2016 when I stayed in Budapest for six weeks to scout and buy an apartment there. At the time I couldn’t recall the previous time I’d been in one place for more than two weeks. But now I’m stuck in Vegas for what I expect to be 1-3 months. Rather than be upset about it, I immediately started thinking about how I can make the best of it.

As soon as I got home I got onto a perfect diet and workout routine and dealt with some admin tasks that had been building up. I started researching Japanese textbooks so that I can use this time to level up my Japanese. I rewired my networking setup so that I could put my router in the closet and organized everything in the closet into labeled plastic bins. I’ve only been back for a couple days but I’m spending some time thinking about what big work projects to tackle while I’m here. I’ll also probably write 52 blog posts for next year since it doesn’t look like I’ll be going on a cruise any time soon.

Here are things I’d be thinking about if I were you:

— If you have an office job but wish that you could work from home, now is the time that you can prove to your bosses that it is in their best interest for you to do so. I’ve helped a number of people transition to working remotely and the hardest step is getting your boss to agree to a trial. That step is already done!

— If you have lost your job or will lose your job, it’s time to think about your next steps and get into an even better career. The government will most likely be sending you some free money and you can maybe collect unemployment, so you might end up having a little bit of a runway to use to make a leap upwards.

— If you have less work to do due to decreased demand, you have more free time. Now is the time to build new habits, organize your finances, do house projects, write a book, etc.

— You’re probably not going out to restaurants, so if you ever wanted to learn to cook now is a great time

— Do your own research and don’t just follow what I do, but I think now is an excellent time to buy Ethereum and it will probably be an excellent time to invest in stock market index funds in 10-20 days. Again, I’m not an expert, I’m just writing this here for some accountability so that we can look back and see if I was right. Regardless, there will be opportunities when everyone else is scared to invest.

I’m always trying to get people to live below their means, save up money, and buy a house in cash. No one likes to hear that though because it seems impossible, but I moved to a new city (Las Vegas), bought a house for under $50k in cash, and now even though my business is losing money I don’t have to worry at all. Use this time to think about the benefits of living a lean lifestyle and write yourself a journal entry to remind yourself why you do it.

Along those lines, if this recession lasts (and it seems like it might), there may be some insane house deals again. In the 2008 crisis (which was admittedly a lot more real-estate related), some places in Vegas lost 80-90% of their value. That sounds impossible now, but it also sounded impossible then.

The next few weeks and months are going to be truly bizarre, but we can be active participants by making the best of them. Use this time to work on yourself and your life and prepare your next moves. Other than doing our parts by self-quarantining and social distancing, there’s not much we can do to determine whether coronavirus ends up being good or bad for humanity, but we do have a lot of control over whether or not it’s good for us as individuals.

I haven’t taken on new coaching clients in over two years as I’ve been traveling so much and I really like my existing clients. However, since I’m going to be traveling a lot less in the near future I’m going to use this opportunity to take on another 3-5 clients. If you want to be one of them, please read this page and send me an email. If you’re one of the people who has already emailed me asking about coaching and I either gave you a lukewarm (maybe in the future…) reply or just never replied, you have top priority.

Photo is from Yakumo Saryo in Tokyo. It’s probably my #2 favorite tea house in the world and was one of the last places I visited before self quarantining.

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