Caught In A Pandemic [Part 2]: Planning for the Future

 
Living in a state of uncertainty can be very overwhelming and anxiety-inducing, and some individuals just simply cannot handle it. And no time has been more uncertain than these past few months of 2020. So what can we do to pull ourselves out of this? My thought – since times are tough right now, let’s plan for the future.
Each person’s situation is different, so I cannot speak for others, but rather I share here what my thought process has been and what has motivated me recently. In the early weeks of this pandemic, I had almost zero income trickling in, all of my market dates we cancelled, my trips were postponed, I had limited contact with family and friends, any-and-every social event was cancelled, and everything was coming to a complete halt. While this all seemed like A LOT at once, I would later come to see this time of quarantine as a blessing. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down and having some “me time”, especially if that means you can invest in yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, or financially. This was a HUGE awakening for me.
As I began to dive into the goals I had for myself and for my business, it completely distracted me from the horrors of 2020, and gave me something to strive for and put my mental energy towards. Simply just having this renewed focus has motivated me SO much! (It may seem like I’ve never considered my future a day beyond tomorrow but that’s not the case at all...I’ve always prepared myself, whether it be education or finances, etc – but I’m talking purpose! When you focus on a desired vision, your motivation becomes so much more real.) So real that I took it a few steps further and I invested financially, I invested in real estate, I invested in e-commerce, and most importantly, I invested in MYSELF. If that’s not empowering, please tell me what is!
My areas of focus:
  1. Business & career
  2. Personal life & family
  3. Finances
  4. Leisure 
CAREER
First things first, I had to consider my business...I was certain that Pass the Cookies is something that I want to continue pursuing, but I knew that I had to re-evaluate my business model. People don’t see the physical labour, exhaustion and pain behind being a baker. But experiencing it day-in and day-out, I know that it’s an area of my life where I want to make a major change. It’s not realistic to carry on a business the way that I have been...what am I going to do when I develop arthritis, or have children and no longer have the time to dedicate to my labour-intensive business? I brought to light what I had been avoiding for quite some time now, that this is not smart business. Working smarter, not harder is the key to success. Don’t get it twisted, hard work is definitely a requirement, but it’s important to set yourself up so that your business can see longevity without you working yourself to the bone for 15-hour days. So what plan did I come up with? Stay tuned for an upcoming post diving into that! 
PERSONAL LIFE
Secondly, I had to look at my personal life and decide if there was anything I wanted to change or improve. I’m quite happy with my current situation, however my focus here was on the future and the path leading to it. I had considered the thought of investing in real estate for some time now, but never took the time to do the research. But now I had the time and the interest, so within a few weeks I made it happen. Another thing to consider was my family. I have a strong relationship with my family and see them often so I wanted to include them in my vision. Remembering that this is a long-term plan – I am trying to situate myself so that as my parents get older I can be as available as possible when needed. And of course I also had to consider my partner and how our path will look going forward, trying to keep a bond as strong as we desire.
FINANCES
While money isn’t everything, it is still important to be wise about your finances. You don’t need to be rich to achieve your dreams, but you do need to be smart about your moves. Saving and investing are two financial moves that can make such a difference in your life, and I advise you do so as soon as your means allow you to. As I read somewhere the other day, “every bill you pay is somebody else’s passive income.” Pay yourself first...if you just put $25 a week towards your savings account, that’s $1,300 saved in a year. That’s a very attainable amount for most people, and obviously the more you put towards savings, the better you’ll be situated in the long-run. It is SO important to have an emergency fund because you never know what life will throw at you. For example, RIGHT NOW!...As we sit through this pandemic, so many people are struggling due to finances and the lack of work currently available. I can promise you that if you’re someone who had a rainy-day fund set aside, you probably weren’t as stressed financially as some during this time. And no matter your age, it’s never too early to start saving for retirement. Stay within your means, but do try to set up these funds, even if it means just putting $10 a week towards each account. 
LEISURE
Personally, I LOVE to travel. And while there are ways to get paid while you travel, I like to enjoy my trips as vacations rather than to work. The better you plan for your future, the more flexibility you should be able to have going forward. For example, if I contribute to my savings now, and re-adjust my business model, I could potentially travel as much or as little as I wish to in the future. Perhaps I see myself living in Japan or France later in life....will I be able to continue with my business? I would sure hate to give it up, so let’s plan for that flexibility. Do I want to have kids in a few years? Perhaps. So let’s plan for that flexibility. Envision the life you want to live and navigate your way there.  
This is where my mind has been at recently and in that regard, I’m appreciative for this quarantine down-time which has allowed me the opportunity to make these plans. I’m not planning for the immediate future because we still can’t even predict how things are going to look a week from now, but I’m working on a five-year plan for myself, followed by a ten-year plan. It’s extremely important to imagine the life you want to make for your future-self (no matter how much of a fairy tale it may seem like) so that you can take the steps to position yourself to achieve it. I’m not naive, I know more than  anybody that life doesn’t go according to plans and there’s always some sort of curve ball being thrown, but if you have goals, there’s nothing that can prevent you from achieving them except for yourself! 
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? 10 years? It's amazing how much can change within a few years and it's even more amazing how much you can accomplish when you set a goal.
Xo,
Courtney
*inspirational images from @thefemalehustlers

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