The only thing any of us can ever really control is how we spend our time.

When I received a fellowship to teach in France, I was actually the school's second choice. The person who had originally been selected had declined due to family commitments, so the position was then offered to me. It was luck. But had I never applied, my fate would have been sealed; do nothing and nothing changes.

In this moment in history, it's all too easy to give up to despair/fear/self-pity. I was recently on a conference call where nearly everyone was despondent, and I left the call feeling pretty crappy too. Should I be more worried? I thought. But what good does more anxiety do? The scarcity mindset is highly contagious (you only need to look at the toilet paper shortage to realize that) and as socially destructive as the virus itself.

There are always opportunities.

Keep your big dream top of mind. What is your long-term vision? What do you need to do to keep the dream alive? It's easy to get distracted during difficult times, but this is when you most need to remember it. Do you need to do some others kind of work for a while so you can get back to your mission, eventually? That's okay too.

Here are a few ways to take action to make your own opportunities (and yes, I'm a fan of lists):

  • Set goals and start on them. Write down your goals for 1 year, 6 months, 3 months, and 30 days. Revisit past goals and see if the action steps need to change to be more realistic. Break up each goal into a list of steps you need to take to get there. Schedule time on your calendar each day to work on each one.

  • Cut out anything from your life that isn't serving you. This includes people who are negative and processes that aren't working. If there was ever a time to be laser-focused, it's now.

  • Keep doing what's working. If your workouts make you feel good, help you stay focused, and get your brain buzzing with new ideas, keep doing them!

  • Make a list of people you want to help-- and start helping them. Get creative, put out more valuable content, and think of collaborative opportunities.

  • Make a list of ideal partners and collaborators. If you can get past fear, you'll notice that the global environment is primed-- even yearning -- for community and collaboration. How can you help people who share your beliefs and interests?

  • Reach out to your network with transparency. Understand their needs and think of ways you can help (hint: this doesn't just mean selling your stuff). Ask them specific questions and provide specific ways they can help you too.

  • Make a list of all your skills. Include ones you might not typically advertise and refer to it when you're trying to come up with new ideas.

  • Make a list of skills you need to learn to achieve your goals-- and learn them.

  • Remind yourself that things won't be like this forever -- nothing ever stays the same, and you have been through trying times before.

And remember, please stay at home if you are a non-essential business. We're all itching to get back to work but during shelter-in-place we must all sacrifice this ability in the short-term. Think of all the silver linings, though!

Ways anyone can help a business for free:

  • Send a quick message to a business owner. A simple "how are you doing?" is more than what the majority of people will do-- it means something!

  • Ask them how you can help

  • If you have used their services, leave them a review on Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Yelp, and anywhere else they show up

  • Share posts they've made that you really like or you think your audience would be into

  • Leave a thoughtful comment on their post; this is more than just one word or an emoji

  • Refer businesses by telling your friends about businesses you love

  • Nominate them for a shoutout in my weekly newsletter

  • Share resources you've seen that might help

  • Help your family and friends complete applications for relief funds

  • Be positive and encouraging

Ways businesses can collaborate to help each other:

  • Start a virtual event together

  • Do an interview together that brings value to your audiences podcast, FB/IG Live, Zoom, etc.

  • Become accountability buddies so you keep moving forward on your projects and goals

  • Create a strategic partnership that includes sharing each others' marketing collateral (online this can be sharing posts on social media and shoutouts in email newsletters)

  • Create a charitable event together

  • Guest blog for each other

  • Make strategic introductions for each other

  • Share direct links to each others' products and services

  • Ask each other for help -- it's much easier to be helpful when requests are specific!

  • Teach each other skills that have helped your business grow

  • Make business-related book and training recommendations to each other

  • Connect and make recommendations on Alignable

  • Share information about grants and loans

  • Trade services

  • Consider comping a few tickets to your own events/programs/activities

Ways anyone can help that involve money:

  • Buy their product online if possible (or take-out for meals!)

  • Buy a gift card to be used later or pay your retainer early

  • Donate to a relief fund or grant

  • Become an angel investor

  • Cover the cost of a training / online class / book

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