Acknowledge Every Win

I’m guessing that right now your life, like mine, is far from normal. Thanks to the pandemic, everything’s been flipped upside down. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what “normal” is or what it feels like.

Many of us are either doing our jobs from home or adapting to a whole new way of office life that likely involves masks, distancing, and copious disinfectant. Essential personnel – doctors, nurses, hospital staff, ambulance drivers, teachers, retail employees, and so many others – are working harder than ever before, often without the resources and credit they deserve. Caregivers are trying to figure out how to help kids with homework and keep them engaged in virtual learning while simultaneously juggling a work schedule that hasn’t let up at all, even in the face of a global disaster. Most people have cut way back on socializing; vulnerable individuals have been particularly isolated, shut away in their homes for months on end.

And then there are the direct effects of the virus, which has taken hundreds of thousands of loved ones and left others with excruciating long-term health issues.

The pandemic is also exacting a colossal financial toll. Millions of people have been furloughed or laid off. New jobs are hard to come by. Many of us are hanging on by our fingernails, crossing our fingers we can make the rent or mortgage, pay the bills, and afford groceries.

Regardless of what the stock market is doing, over here in Real Life, this is a very hard time.

I wish I had some potent little piece of money magic to pass on to you that would help ease the burden. As someone who’s feeling the financial pinch herself, all I can say is that sometimes the only thing we can do is hang on as best we can until the situation improves, accept help when it’s available, toss our hat into the ring for whatever opportunities are available to us, and cut ourselves some slack while we’re waiting for a reprieve.

That last part is important. Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself some grace. It can be hard to do in the face of so much uncertainty. It’s certainly hard to do when you’re trying to figure out how to cover your expenses and secure the basic necessities. But you’re making the best of a terrible, unpredictable situation that has no clear end date, and that warrants some self-compassion.

Instead of castigating yourself, give yourself credit for persisting (financially and otherwise) during a truly difficult and unprecedented time. Whenever possible, find ways to achieve small money wins. Then take time to celebrate each one.

You paid your heating bill or your rent? Win.

You saved $15 by couponing at the grocery store? Win.

You put a few bucks into savings? You’re a gosh-darned hero, my friend.

I’m usually skeptical of fluffy “Think positive!” tactics, but in my experience, this particular one works very well. It’s possible to trick yourself into feeling better about yourself by consistently telling yourself what you’re doing right. And you are doing things right. You are achieving wins.

You’re here, you’re getting through it, and you’re moving forward – in spite of everything. That in itself is a colossal achievement.