Winter is coming. 7 areas of life to focus on right now to be prepared
The Wall is breaking and we’re facing an avalanche of discomfort most of us won’t have experienced before.
Even if you’re only paying a smidgen of attention to what’s happening in the world, you’ll know that things are not good. And they will get worse.
While much of what’s going on is out of your individual control (unless you hold a key role in a government perhaps), there are things you can do to support yourself — and those who depend on you — through this harsh season of life.
Here are seven realms of life to focus on right now.
Let’s start with a big one: money and personal finances. When everything is becoming more expensive (out of your control) are you spending the money you have in the best way (in your control)? We’re already witnessing much pain: stories of increasingly more people turning to food banks and people chosing between eating or heating their home are simply heartbreaking. There are also eye-opening reports on YouTube on the homelessness-crisis. There’s a bigger issue here, let’s not forget. It’s not avocado and toast and Netflix subscription causing the cost of living crisis. But if you’re feeling the pinch (most of us are), if you can, get creative about your outgoings and income to support yourself the best you can.
First, look at your expenses. You might have cut down on the non-essentials already, but now is the moment to be radically realistic and think about what’s essential and what’s option to a good life (most of the things we think are necessary aren’t). If you have a mortgage, can you reduce it by downsizing and free up some funds? If you can avoid getting into debt or more debt, do.
Second, look at your income. If you are living off one stream of income, think about how you could diversify. Whatever they are, your skills are valuable. How might you add additional income streams by tapping into the skills you already have? Many companies are hiring remotely now. Could you pick up a few extra hours each week? If you’re fortunate to own a house, could you rent out a room?
After personal finance, food is among the top areas of life to focus on. The world food supply is in dire straits and further shortages are inevitable. The big toilet roll run of 2020 is still fresh in memory. I was living in the UK at the time and going to the supermarkets and seeing empty shelves everywhere really triggered something in me. Now, higher energy prices, a lack of fertilizers, continued supply chain challenges, failing crops due to heatwaves and draughts (or floods, the world is a strange place these days)— it all plays a part. And then there’s inflation which is driving the cost of food higher and higher. For example, UK inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.4% in July and Argentina’s inflation is expected to reach 90.2% in 2022.
With all that’s going on, you’d be wise to stock up on long-lasting cupboard essentials. Adding a few extra items (if you can) to your weekly shop might provide some sense of security as we head into more turbulent times.
Good health, both mentally and physically, makes it easier to do hard things and be resilient during stormy times. Find ways to manage stress, get plenty of rest, take your vitamins, spend time in nature (it’s a soothing balm for the soul), and make sure you stretch daily (trust me).
Be mindful of what you consume each day from the news. Yes, it’s horrible. Yes, it’s important to know what’s going on. And yes, what happens elsewhere will likely impact your life. At the same time, so much of what’s happening isn’t in your control so tracking it every minute of the day will only add uneccesary mental stress.
Is your home a sanctuary from the outside world? Creating a space where you can relax and feel safe as the world around you swirls is paramount.
That said, it’s important to uncouple ‘home’ with a physical location. With recession looming (we’re in it already, they’ve just not made it official yet) and the ever growing housing crisis, many will face tough decisions over the coming years. Make your ‘home’ something that can be embodied wherever you are. If you have to move out of the flat you’re renting or sell your home, you’ll be thankful for making this distinction.
The bad news: now is not a good time to change your job. The good news: now is a good time to change your job. If you’re not happy where you’re currently working, explore what else is out there — even if the job market is slowing down. That secure income you have right now might not be so secure in six months time… Be proactive with what you do for a living and consider how you can monetise the skills you already have. Life is meant to be lived and staying in a job that drains your soul is not beneficial to anyone. This doesn’t mean leaving your job with nothing else to go to mind.
6. Personal growth
Speaking of skills, being a learner for life and expanding on or improving your skillset is part of a good life — and essential to being resilient. Do you know how to sew a button or mend a hole in your sweater? Do you know how to make a meal from scratch without following a recipe? How about basic home repairs? Fast fashion, take out or ready-made meals, and repair services have become the go-to for many of us for as long as we can remember. We are heading to a world where products and services won’t be so abundantly available, so adding a few new essential life skills to your repertoire would not go amiss.
I mentioned resilience. For many of us, life has been pretty ok these past decades, but the signs are that this is about to change (I’ve mentioned several in this piece). How do you fare during hard times? In fact, have you ever experienced hard times, like truly? Not being able to go on an overseas holiday because of a global health emergency is not it. Counting the pounds to be able to heat your house is. Resilience is how you withstand and recover from challenging situations by being aware of your situation and finding new ways to tackle whatever comes your way. Practising your resilience is a way of taking control of your life.
Find or create a community of likeminded people. Tough times can be easier if you have people you enjoy talking to or spending time with around you. Now this doesn’t have to be your immediate family or neighbours. What makes you feel alive? Find people who share interests, be it dog walking, foraging or crypto. Having quality conversations, learning from each other and sharing experiences go a long way to brighten up the dark days.
There you have it, seven areas of life to focus on. Is there one that stands out to you?
I’ll be using this list as a guide for my own life as I face the coming winter alongside my wolfpack.