Being stuck at home during these uncertain times gives us both limitations and opportunities to do things that are out of the ordinary. Since there is nothing ordinary about what we are experiencing, many of us are flooded with mental, emotional, and physical stress like never before.
As a financial advisor, my primary goal is to help clients navigate through uncertain times like this by making investment recommendations, provide budgeting advice, and planning for more of the unexpected. My experience during this financial crisis so far has taught me a lot about human behavior – both my clients and my own.
As I do with most of my clients and people I meet, I like to utilize my background in sports to relate to people. At this point, COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way or another. With my background in professional athletics, living each day with some form of unknown or uncertainty is somewhat normal, but I recognize that isn’t the case for most people.
With football being one of the few sports left with non-guaranteed contracts, a team can release (terminate) you at any moment without notice. An injury could cost you your job. Poor performance in practice, games, or during off-season training can lead to an uncomfortable ride home with no pay. Being sick with a sore throat or the flu could give your back-up the opportunity they have been waiting for to shine in your spot, which ultimately could affect your career. The mental endurance required to withstand this type of daily performance pressure is just as important as the physical training that most athletes are required to do to compete.
I am so grateful to have played this game for so long because my mental physique is far superior to my physical physique. Being through the ups and downs of a football career has taught me how to control my emotions in everything that I do. During times of uncertainty, such as what we are experiencing today, there are a few things that we can control such as our attitude, effort, and emotions.
Through my playing career, I was introduced to Vincent Duffy of Edge90, a mental skills coach in the Pittsburgh area. I asked Vince about how to stay positive in a time when people are being forced to stay home in isolation, dealing with extreme worry throughout the nation and world.
Vince shared some things for people to keep in mind including “respect the unexpected” and “be in control of what you can control”. He explained the phrase “respect the unexpected”, meaning that there are certain things in life that you cannot control, and there is no point in dwelling on it. Acknowledge that these things will exist in our lives, and to the best of your ability, move on rather than focusing on the uncertainty.
Another motivating phrase from Vince that he says helps athletes is: “get knocked down 6 times, get up 7”.
One must learn to thrive in chaos.
“Those who can control their emotions, compartmentalize their thoughts, and have an action plan moving forward in the face of the unknown; those will be the ones to succeed.” Tom Brady, a world-famous quarterback, is often cited for his incomparable ability to compartmentalize.
We are in uncharted waters when it comes to this virus, the corresponding market volatility, and being prepared to deal with it. We often look to successful professional athletes for inspiration and motivation to succeed in the face of adversity. Now may be the time to find the athlete within each of us. We must embrace the unknown, lean on a positive outlook, and trust that there is a bright light at the end of this tunnel.
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