It’s been over two months since the Shelter-at-Home order has been in place in California and in most parts of the country. Our lives have changed so dramatically it feels surreal. At this point, many of us are experiencing some form of “quarantine fatigue” and are eager for a sense of normalcy. But can we, and should we return to life as it was? Even though there are encouraging signs of progress in our fight against COVID-19, there is no real game-changer on the medical front yet. Without massive testing and tracing and effective medical treatments or vaccine we won’t have full control of the pandemic. Furthermore, many experts believe that COVID-19 will have a 2nd or even 3rd wave this fall and winter. As the economy reopens gradually, we must adjust to new ways of conducting business and daily life to keep ourselves, our families, and our workplaces safe.

With the possibility that this virus will continue to threaten our health and economy for a while, let’s take a great pause and reflect on what we can learn from this event to prepare for what may come next.

From Breakdown to Breakthrough

For many years, Silver Oak has helped clients navigate major life changes. COVID-19 presents a challenging transition for all of us. It is helpful to consider “The 4 Stages of Transition” below to make sense of what we are going through.


Source: Financial Transitionist Institute

The Pandemic interrupted our old ways of life, abruptly, two months ago. Some people experienced more Anticipation than others, but overall, it was a rapid Ending for everyone. Now we live in Passage, and will be here for a while before we arrive at the New Normal. This phase of Passage is always chaotic, as the world pauses, re-discovers and resets. Sometimes we feel stuck. Sometimes we feel we are one step forward and two steps back. Emotionally, it’s normal to feel fear, fatigue, isolation and loss during this stage. We are eager to move to the next phase, but it often takes much longer than we expect. Recognizing we are not alone in experiencing these characteristics of transition can help us to be more accepting and resilient.

The key is to keep moving forward, and finding comfort and hope in the midst of discomfort and uncertainty.  

Like a butterfly trying to break out of chrysalis, there are tremendous creative energy during this stage. If we go beyond our fear and take this time to learn and grow, we can come out of the experience with more clarity, strength and wisdom. Below is a graph I find motivating.

Source: Unknown. Attributed to Dr. Monika Langeh and/or Ken Seidu, Godfrey Okumu from Nigeria and Dr. Anne Mwangi from Kenya

While we cannot jump back into our old norm, we can imagine what the new normal will look like and choose to make it work better for us. I would like to invite you to reflect on these questions:     

  • What brings you joy? What are you grateful for? What changes can you make that will enable you to spend more time, money and energy in these activities?
  • What have you truly missed during these past few months? Perhaps you will have an enhanced appreciation for things you used to take for granted and will want to preserve them to the best of your ability.
  • Are there things you have found you really don’t need in your life? We often fill our lives up with so many activities and so much “stuff” that we constantly feel stressed. Maybe some of that is not as important and essential as we thought?
  • How can you make a real difference in the lives of those you care about? What causes have been revealed to you to be more important and urgent? Maybe your perspective on this has changed during the pandemic.
  • If you have moved to work remotely, how has your perception of work evolved? Maybe you’ve had a taste of more flexibility, and want to keep it to create more work-life balance and improve the quality of your life?

This pandemic has also taught us how vulnerable and co-dependent we all are. When a catastrophic event like this happens, we realize that individually, we can control very little. What makes a difference in our personal experiences is the relationships and resources we have built. We don’t know when this pandemic will be over and what other “black swan” events may occur in the future, but it’s important to bring our focus to the things that TRULY MATTER and things we CAN CONTROL, which include how we manage our health, deepen and expand our human connections and build our financial resilience.   

While addressing financial issues is a key value we bring to clients, we are equally compassionate about supporting clients to live the life they desire with the resources they have. We all must make choices and trade-offs in our lives and Silver Oak fulfills the role of a thinking partner for families and individuals to think through the financial implications of these choices and make smart decisions.