Joyfear in the Age of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Joyfear in the age of the coronavirus as a result of massive layoffs.

Getting laid off can feel like a punch in the gut.

Getting laid off during a global pandemic amid record-breaking unemployment?

Well, that’s extra.

Two weeks ago, you were hitting your stride at work. Now, you’re suddenly jobless.

What you’re feeling is joyfear.

I’m feeling it, too. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stay focused during this crisis.

But first…

What is Joyfear?

Joyfear is the mix of emotions (dread, anxiety, joy, excitement, curiosity, etc.) one feels when experiencing life’s defining moments. I stumbled upon the term years ago in this post from minimalist vegan author Leo Babauta.

Whether you’ve been laid off or you’re the founder of a startup that’s fighting to survive, you’re feeling it—the natural fear and anxiety associated with the looming financial uncertainty mixed with a curiosity about what is to come.

Joyfear in the age of the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Compounding that uncertainty is the generation-defining global pandemic we now know as the new coronavirus. Last week, a record-high 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. Even recruiting agencies like ZipRecruiter have laid off hundreds of employees.

Here in Oregon, layoffs have hit an all-time high. According to the Oregon Employment Department, there were 76,500 Unemployment Insurance claims in the week of March 15, 2020. The previous record was 21,000 set back in 2008.

“It feels like we’re in a really bad dream / dystopian movie.”

– Everyone

Sadly, jobs aren’t the only casualties. The death toll is higher every day. And despite evidence that social distancing is working, Dr. Anthony Fauci projects 100k – 200k deaths over the next couple of months due to the coronavirus. There are 50 million kids out of school indefinitely. And Zoom bombs? As a friend of mine said via text, “It feels like we’re in a really bad dream / dystopian movie.”

But when will the nightmare end? No one knows for sure but don’t hold your breath for an ‘all-clear’ signal.

For my part, I’m washing my hands a lot, sharpening my skills, and keeping my inhaler nearby. At the same time, I’m looking for opportunities in marketing management, project management, and/or content development. Have a look at my portfolio and please reach out if I can help.

Human response to joyfear in the age of the coronavirus.
(The path forward…)

Assuage your coronavirus joyfear

Here are some resources and reminders I hope will bring you inspiration, guidance, and hope during this crisis.

Be proactive

Chances are you either own a copy of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People or you know someone who does. The first habit? Be proactive. Control the things you can control. Influence what you can and don’t burn calories worrying about the things you can’t.

Be productive

Since we’re stuck at home, it’s a great time to improve your skills or learn something new. Finish that book on your nightstand, start the home improvement project, or complete a certification. Better yet, collaborate with a friend. Here’s an article I found outlining 8 more ways to stay productive during the coronavirus crisis. And here’s Jonah Hill getting it done during self-quarantine.

But also ignore the pressure to “be productive”

In this article, the assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto and award-winning author, Aisha S. Ahmad, takes a different approach. She notes that life will NOT resume as if the pandemic had never happened. So, resist the pressure to rush to restore normalcy because normal is changing. We will need to acclimate to a new normal. And that will take a little time. “Understand that this is a marathon. If you sprint at the beginning, you will vomit on your shoes by the end of the month.”

Do these 3 important things after a layoff

In 2015, I went through one of Oregon’s largest layoffs. During that time, my team and I learned a lot about joyfear, including how to bounce back from a layoff in three steps.

How to job hunt right now

Employers are trying to navigate the crisis as well and they have a lot on the line. Interviews are being canceled or postponed. It’s not easy for anyone. “When job hunting during this difficult time, remember that this is a very unique situation that no one could have ever anticipated,” says Kim Hoffman, Intuit’s director of talent acquisition. Keep the circle of control in mind. Here are a few strategic moves we can make to help us in our #coronavirusjobhunt.

Lead through uncertainty

Leaders, if you’re managing a team right now, chances are they have concerns about COVID-19. If so, you’ll find value in this post from the SVP of Card Operations at Capital One, Katya Andresen. Katya is a LinkedIn Influencer and shares six thoughts on leading through uncertainty.

Help for entrepreneurs

If you’re a small business owner, check out the COVID-19 resources from the SBDC. You’ll see webinars and conference calls happening every week plus a lot more. If you happen to reside in Oregon, the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) has a growing list of coronavirus resources on their blog, and they have a virtual PubTalk scheduled for April 8. Experts, operators, and investors will be discussing how to navigate tough times.

Teamwork and the big picture

Stress and anxiety about the end of the world as we know it can make it hard for anyone to focus. But it’s important that we do. People are counting on us.

Ed Yong, a staff writer at The Atlantic, puts it like this: “There are now only two groups of Americans. Group A includes everyone involved in the medical response, whether that’s treating patients, running tests, or manufacturing supplies. Group B includes everyone else, and their job is to buy Group A more time.”

I like this because it frames the problem in terms of teamwork. Our teammates need us. And we don’t want to let them down.

We’re in this together. Be well. Stay connected. Stay safe.

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