Making Decisions in the Time of COVIDSubmitted by Mission Financial Planning on June 15th, 2020
Several times last week I was asked to evaluate big decisions. Home purchases, selling a practice, buying a practice, hiring/firing and whether it’s time to invest, to name a few.
At the same time, I’m having conversations with colleagues and clients about the emotional toll of the shut-down. The uncertainty of business or economic prospects, isolation from loved ones and heightened anxiety has weighed heavily on many of us.
Experts compare the range of COVID-related emotions to the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) and for dentists there has been a lot to grieve.
In a Harvard Business Review interview, David Kessler (co-author of the book, On Grief & Grieving, which introduced the concept of stages of grief) talked about grief that comes from a loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection.
An article in Psychology Today addressed COVID and “grieving the loss of our freedoms, a predictable future, and the lives and roles left behind”.
Hopefully, most of us have been spared losing a loved one to COVID. And while not the same as grieving a death, for dentists who were shut down, that change and loss of normalcy was sudden and significant. Along with financial concerns, there was the loss of a predictable future (when would the practice open again? What changes would be necessary for opening safely? What would the new schedule look like?) along with the loss of structure and camaraderie of being in the office every day.
I often advise clients against making decisions while recovering from grief or while in the midst of or major change. Stress and anxiety tend to bias our decisions, and we can become too cautious or impulsive, and our judgment can be impaired. But these are times that require decision making.
This crisis will pass; but, in the meantime it may offer some tremendous opportunities, and decisions will be necessary to take advantage of them.
Our recommendation is to make decisions with current data, support, structure and reflection.
For the time being, we can’t rely too heavily on old data or trends. We’re having to assimilate current data, watching for bias and checking for credibility. We have to remind ourselves that a “gut check” may not be helpful because we’ve never been in a situation like this before.
Recognize that what we've been through is significant. As decisions are required, be sure you are making them with support. Bounce ideas off of your peers and advisors, gather as much data as possible, and take time for a thoughtful pause before making big decisions.
We’re here to be your sounding board as you navigate the decisions coming your way.