The 44 Stages of Living Through a Financial Crisis

As 2020 mercifully comes to an end, newspapers and magazines are releasing their best-of and year-in-review lists. There is much to reflect upon, or eagerly forget. But, as someone just shy of 40, one of the things that sticks out most to me is the fact this year marked the second major financial crisis of my generation. We are two-time financial crisis veterans.

The feelings of 2008 are indelible. The disillusionment of being only a few years into my career and suddenly asked to take a significant pay cut. The hopelessness and fear of never finding a new job and earning a respectable salary.

Twelve years later and here we are again. I realize this time is different, with optimism of a quick rebound once the vaccine is distributed. But the individual economic pressures remain the same. I was lucky before and am fortunate today. Many people were not then and are still not, and many more will join them.

If nothing else, I hope this generation will be known as resilient. To have shown an ability to endure difficulty and make opportunity out of nothing. And I hope this encapsulates the experience of a financial crisis, and hopefully a little wisdom.

The 44 Stages of Living Through a Financial Crisis

  1. Unbridled confidence to take over the world
  2. Confusion
  3. Denial
  4. Anxiety
  5. Resignation
  6. Panicked check of 401(k) (am I reading this upside down?!)
  7. Breathless scream of four-letter words
  8. Test email to boss (got a response, yes, still have a job)
  9. Increase news consumption 1,000%
  10. Grief
  11. Check 401(k) again (will just work till age 90, no problem)
  12. Watch Federal Reserve announcement
  13. Check 401(k) again (too early to start shopping for vacation homes?)
  14. Furlough
  15. Sleep in
  16. Social media blast of fun thing while friends at work
  17. Quickly realize not working sucks
  18. Official layoff
  19. Social media blast of query for jobs from friends at work
  20. Collect unemployment
  21. Question college major and all other life choices to this point
  22. Grief again
  23. Send resume to top jobs
  24. Send resume to every job
  25. Tap emergency fund
  26. Roll eyes until literally fall out of skull after reading another article lamenting the “lazy self-entitlement” of millennials
  27. Shamelessly use emergency fund to buy beer
  28. Check 401(k) again (clean it out???)
  29. Move back home with Mom & Dad
  30. Convert former bedroom now man cave back into bedroom
  31. Ponder life without marriage, a home or kids
  32. Become a freelancer
  33. Ask friends and colleagues for projects
  34. Work three jobs for the income of one
  35. Start blogging or making videos
  36. Ask friends and colleagues to spread the word
  37. Get a new job or start own business on own terms
  38. Move back out. Start over.
  39. Rebuild emergency fund
  40. Restart 401(k) contributions and don’t stop
  41. Decide never to check 401(k) again until age 60
  42. Revelation: bad things do and will happen, but grace, humility, patience, emergency reserves, optimism about yourself, and the vulnerability to ask for help can get you through just about anything
  43. Compassion for those not so lucky
  44. Resume take over of the world

Friday Five

Ways Covid will reshape aging and retirement

An enlightening collection of expert insight from Anne Tergesen, but most importantly beautiful silver lining that maybe the pandemic will change many things for the better.

As with past crises, including Sept. 11, psychologists are finding that people across generations are focusing on what matters most to them, including relationships.

Listen: Tim Ferriss interviews Mary Karr

There is great synergy between Tim Ferriss and the queen of memoir, Mary Karr. Check it out for great tips on writing and living.

For me, the solution to fear is curiosity and presence. I can’t be terrified and curious at the same time.

Lux Capital on doing good things

I don’t know if it is the creative polymath Josh Wolfe who writes these or if it’s a team effort, but, man, they make VC both highly interesting and inspiring.

what is memorable isn’t always meaningful and what is salient isn’t always significant.

The remarkable story of the first person with Down syndrome to conquer Ironman

Just shoot this inspiration straight into your veins.

It was then that Nikic summoned a well of patient, hopeful perseverance — along with the energizing power of the simple vision he had set for his life.

One step forward, two steps.

One step. Two steps. Three.

Friday Fiction: Laura van den Berg

Some writers are afraid that committing certain events to the page will conjure them into existence. I never paid much attention to such superstitions, but then my last novel featured a writer daughter and a dying father and then, not long after the publication, my own father was handed down a terminal diagnosis and I thought: Yes. All those other writers were right to have been afraid.

Or maybe not.

The thing is: no one knows how any of this works. Which seems impossible, given all that we do know, but it’s true.


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