Starting Out 2021 in Pandemic Style

An orange piece of construction paper with lots of kids' TV show character stickers pasted on top

One of the artworks my kids created for me during my COVID-19 recovery process

Earlier this year, my wife and I caught COVID-19 back to back. The experience disrupted our start to the year, but left us with some valuable lessons moving forward.

A Strong Start

Since the onset of the global pandemic in March 2020, things “not going according to plan” became the new normal. And yet, by the end of 2020, I really felt like I’d found my stride. I’d grown my portfolio with Birge & Held, started my podcast, launched a website, and moved into a new home.

So when 2021 rolled around, it felt like the perfect time to switch from being reactive to proactive, and to start thinking towards the future. My wife, Cindel, and I took a vacation to Cancun and during that trip, we sat down together to set our annual goals for business, family and ourselves.

And then, right when we returned from vacation ready to hit the ground running, I came down with COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Experience

This was early January. At first, I thought I had a sinus infection, but got tested anyway out of an abundance of caution. Then the symptoms started. I lost all sense of taste and smell (this confirmed when I couldn’t even smell my baby son Knox’s dirty diapers), experienced extreme fatigue and body aches, and had a consistent cough. By the time my COVID test came back positive two days later, it confirmed what I already knew. 

Luckily, I didn’t need treatment. Cindel was an absolute rockstar, taking care of me during my recovery and taking care of our three kids. She brought me meals three times a day, and had the kids make artwork and presents to help me feel better — the kids loved it.

Then just as I was beginning to recover after ten days, Cindel came down with COVID. It became my turn to step in as caretaker for the house. At first, it was a challenge to take care of the kids all by myself, but by the end of the experience, we fell into a groove with one another and I was grateful for the one-on-one time — or rather, one-on-three time. 

Some Important Takeaways

Overall, we were down for twenty days between the two of us. January had become a lost month. But with the experience came some important lessons:

  • Making time for rest. As someone who’s always going, going, going, it was difficult for me to stop working. I learned that it’s important to not beat yourself up for taking a much-needed break. When it comes to business, there’s always going to be something to do, but it’s important to stop and focus on self care, too.
  • Putting redundancies in place. My firm, Birge & Held, had just landed a new deal and needed to raise capital from investors — and we had just sixty days to do so before closing. Usually, I’m the one that puts together our investor presentation and manages investor communication. I hadn’t trained anyone else to do it and had to rush to do so, all the while recovering. Now, I know my team has my back if I ever need the support again.
  • Cultivating resilience. After having just set our yearly goals, it was discouraging not to pursue them for an entire month. But as soon as our health returned, we jumped right back into action with renewed vigor. This experience was a reminder that no matter what life throws your way, if you cultivate resilience, you can tackle the challenge head on and come out stronger on the other side.

We are lucky to have come out of this experience safe and healthy — and armed with new insight to kickstart our journey into 2021.