Embrace The Opportunity
by M. Jane Garvey
We all have our routines disrupted from time to time in our lives. Sometimes this is a personal disruption coming from a life event like moving, marriage, a new child, an illness, a job loss, a family tragedy, where most everyone else’s routines stay the same. Sometimes it is a particular industry or geographical location that is hard hit by an economic change, or damage from a natural event. Sometimes almost everyone’s lives and routines are disrupted at the same time. Change happens and we can benefit from it if we can learn to embrace the opportunity to transition to a new routine. It is not what life deals us that counts, it’s what we make out of it.
In times of change, look for opportunities to solve problems. As our lives and routines are disrupted pay attention. You will notice things you don’t ordinarily see. Opportunities for improvement, opportunities for investment, opportunities for connection, opportunities for invention, and many others. You will see your own specific set of opportunities, the things your eyes and background are tuned in to.
When we first started investing in houses that needed rehabbing, we decided to change the routes we took and the things we looked at. We stated driving a different way each time we went somewhere. And we started looking for properties that needed work as opposed to the ones that were eye catching in an appealing way. The thought was that we might notice properties that were clearly neglected and in need of some TLC that would be good investments. We started taking routes that were not the main roads. It worked, and it still does. Many houses and yards start looking like there is a problem before the problem gets to the stage that the house is for sale. Fallen branches that aren’t picked up after a storm, snow that isn’t shoveled in the winter, grass that isn’t mowed in the summer, overgrown bushes, peeling paint, and many other things are indications that someone has a problem taking care of a property. Open your eyes and minds to see what is in front of you.
Just like changing the physical route you take, the experience we are all going through with social distancing is changing the way we work. We are spending time on virtual meetings, doing more things online that we might have done in person. Many people are finding that they have more time available as they have eliminated their commute. As you make these changes to your routine, you will find opportunities for improvement. Investigate them and change if appropriate.
Over the years I have found that a forced change in routine allows the luxury of innovation. You will find that you are seeking solutions for how to do things and others are too. If you have skills that could help others you may have the beginnings of a new business. Explore it!
Disruption in your routine offers new opportunities to plug something in that you have been wanting to do. Many people are connecting with their families in a way that they haven’t made the time for in the past. See if you can get some new routines established that will live on beyond the end of the disruption. Family dinners come to mind as something that has historically been an important time to connect, but many have dispensed with as the pressures of life demand more time. Personal time for exercise, cooking healthy meals, prayer, meditation, reading, and other healthy habits can come back into your life (if it has been missing). If you find value in it, make sure to make it a habit and keep up the habit after things return to “normal”.
I read something the other day that triggered the idea for this article and speaks to the potential benefits from a change in routine. During the Great Plague of London in 1665-1666, Isaac Newton retreated to the family farm about 60 miles outside Cambridge. During this time, as a 23 year old, he let his imagination loose, generating ideas that eventually led to the invention of calculus, parts of optic theory, and allegedly, while sitting in his garden, he saw an apple fall from a tree that inspired his understanding of gravity and the laws of motion. This was known as his “wonder year.”
While you may not invent things that change the world as much as Isaac Newton’s inventions did, you may invent things that change your world. Go for it! With a change in routine and a mind open to ideas we can accomplish amazing things. Make this your wonder year.
M. Jane Garvey is President of the Chicago Creative Investors Association.