The mortgage is due on the first of each month –– and so is the rent, the car payment, and the AMEX bill.
Sales quotas are typically measured by quarter, and so are corporate profits.
And what about our good friends at the IRS? I think they would like to hear from you at least once per year, too.
We Live by the Calendar
Well, do you know what really doesn’t care about your calendar? You guessed it –– COVID-19.
Assuming that once COVID-19 is under control the market will simply reset to where it was in January is completely naive.
We are all programmed to observe some sort of schedule –– farmers, school children, and business execs. Even the retired snowbirds with the freedom to do whatever they want, dutifully point the Cadillac southbound on 95 when the temperatures start to drop.
Despite our innate preference to live by some sort of schedule, get used to not having one for a while. Why? Because the economic world doesn’t live by them the way we would like it to.
So, COVID-19 is obviously on its own schedule, but do you know what else runs on its own schedule? A business cycle.
Long term economic expansions (like the one we have been in for over a decade) fool us into mistaking seasonality for a cycle –– and they are not the same at all. Business cycles begin and end when they feel like it, and not when the sun rises or the quarter ends.
This most recent cycle began officially in June of 2009 and ran for in excess of 10 years. When you compare our most recent cycle to every cycle in the US since the end of WWII, it lasted nearly twice as long –– and likely would have continued until COVID-19 showed up and stopped it dead in its tracks.
Business cycles begin and end when they feel like it, and not when the sun rises or the quarter ends.
Why is this important to know? Because for nearly a decade, we have been able to count on a stable interest rate environment, stable employment, stable seasonality, and largely predictable income.
As is becoming increasingly evident, those conditions are no more.
2008 vs 2020 Doesn’t Really Matter
I keep hearing people comparing 2020 to 2008 –– and trust me, 2020 is most definitely not 2008.
2008 was caused by financial fraud, negligence, and corruption –– and it was years in the making. 2020 was more caused by a virus named after a beer we drink at the beach –– and it shut down most of the world in less than 60 days.
CDSs and CDOs vs COVID, if you will (and yes, I apologize for the bad joke.)
If your new plan is to simply yell the same message louder and more frequently, then you aren’t going to be around very long.
Yet, despite the differing reasons, many of the impacts will be similar –– high unemployment, loss of wealth, a hesitant public, finger-pointing and politicking, and of course, a lower transaction count.
I don’t need to tell you that when the transactional volume drops, our incomes tend to follow suit.
Shift Your Time Frame and Your Focus
So here is an idea –– instead of lamenting the inevitable loss of income and transactional volume in 2020, take some time to completely overhaul your goals. And when I say overhaul goals, I don’t mean adjust the numbers up or down for 2020, I mean overhaul the goals to what they should be –– long-term qualitative strategic plans, not just short-term activity goals.
Why long-term and qualitative? Because chasing short term numbers during a fundamental shift will not lead to transformative growth –– pursuing strategic objectives does.
Chasing short term numbers during a fundamental shift will not lead to transformative growth…
Instead of shooting for more transactions, why not try some of these:
- What if you set a goal to have 10,000 people in a curated database by 2025 who are willingly receiving valuable insight from you regularly?
- What if your goals were purely educational? Like mastering a new skill (not a new script) or pursuing a certificate in a very specific field like interior design, green homebuilding techniques, urban planning, or architectural history?
- What if you set a goal to write down everything single thing you know so that you can pass on your knowledge to a teammate, child, or other colleagues?
Do you think becoming smarter, sharper, and/or more connected is a better strategy than simply upping your number of calls or posts? Of course it is.
Match the Cycle
Many feel the recovery could be quick –– especially given the stimulus –– but it also could be far longer once the full extent of the damage is measured. As this post is written, the financial damage is growing, mortgage markets are convulsing, and the COVID-19 case count is rising –– my sense is recovery will take far longer than we want to admit.
If your new goals are still measured by transaction count, then you have missed an amazing opportunity to evolve.
Remember –– business cycles tend to run in irregular long-term time intervals, not by month or by quarter. But in the same way that expansions tend to run for irregular intervals, so do contractions, and rarely does the market look the same on the way out as it did on the way in. Assuming that once COVID-19 is under control the market will simply reset to where it was in January is completely naive.
So, adjust your plans for the long haul –– lengthen the horizon and get far more theoretical and qualitative. If your new plan is to simply yell the same message louder and more frequently, then you aren’t going to be around very long.
Step back and challenge yourself to think –– if your new goals are still measured by transaction count, then you have missed an amazing opportunity to evolve.