Why Coronavirus Is the Greatest Opportunity of Your Life

There’s never been a better time to get ahead

On March 10, 2000, Nasdaq was rocking high at 5048 — double of that in the previous year.

Investors were ready to “make it rain” for any company whose name ended with a “.com.”

But you know, what goes up…. (I’ll let you complete that)

At this point — the market’s peak — leading tech companies started placing huge sell orders on their stocks. And the public took it as a sign.

Within a few weeks, the market lost 10% of its value. And we all know what happened afterward. By October 2002, Nasdaq was down by 76.8%.

A bunch of companies went out of business. Companies like Pets.com, whose product seemed quite feasible, had closed shop.

But then there were some who took the hit and kept on. And the biggest name in the list of survivors is Amazon.

Why so? Is it their famous commitment to customer service? Wide selection? Low prices? Not really.

It’s a deal that Amazon closed a month before the crash.

In the early 2000s, Warren Jenson, the CFO at Amazon sensed the need for a stronger cash position. He foresaw suppliers panicking and asking for early payments.

Ruth Porat, now the CFO at Alphabet Inc., advised Jenson to set his sights on Europe.

The tip worked.

Amazon sold $672 million in convertible bonds to overseas investors. They had to give a pretty generous interest rate of 6.9% plus flexible conversion terms. But at a time when people had given up on raising money, the deal was solid.

If it were not for that deal, it’s questionable if Amazon would’ve been able to get through the crash. But it did.

And here it is, 20 years later, selling everything under the sun.


The growth trajectory of Amazon is not the only one that taught us to flip obstacles upside down.

During the recessions of 1980, 1990, and 2000, around 9% of the public companies recovered.

Hold on. There’s more.

They didn’t only recover, they flourished. Their earnings continued to rise during the crash and even after that.

Why? Preparation.

The companies without contingency plans and quick action ended up bruised. When shit hit the fan, they went into survival mode.

That’s what happens to us. Not only financially, but on a personal level.

When coronavirus originated, most people thought it would go away soon — “Oh it’s only for a month, then things would be normal.”

We weren’t prepared for a global pandemic. We weren’t prepared for a drastic change in our lifestyle — income, routines, habits, and relationships.

So we sat and waited for all this to get over instead of redeeming the gift of the situation.

When we could finally switch to nitro, we took our foot off the gas.

Because the world suggests to limit yourself in all different ways. To contract rather than expand. The media induces fear in our hearts every moment. And more importantly, we’re letting ourselves get affected by it.

I see it as a recession for our personal lives. There are all sorts of things you can’t do that you’d otherwise love. Thus, like the companies mentioned above, those who move ahead with their ‘contingency plans’ and survive the hit, will be the ones who continue to flourish when the crisis ends.

I’m driven by competition. If you’re like me, it would help you to see it as an opportunity to build leverage.

Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful — Warren Buffet

While others are fearful, uncertain, and getting cold feet, you can flip this obstacle upside down. You can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime adversity while others are praying for it to go away.

All obstacles have their weaknesses to use against them. The virus and the lockdown are no different.

Adverse Situations Are the Best Times to Sow the Seeds of Success

I told you the story of Amazon. But I’m not here to give you investment advice on how to survive the crash. I’m going to talk about something more important.

Your habits, routines, and skills.

Now there are two options to react to this situation.

One comes from fear. You can let everything slide away thinking —

“Oh, the economy is so bad. No one can do anything. Let me relax. Let’s not count these few months because whatever happens is not my fault.”

You start binge-watching, not working out regularly, your diet goes through the window and you’re no longer thinking about your productivity.

But there’s the second option — you realize that this may be the greatest opportunity for growth that you’re going to get in this life.

Then you start doing the right things. You work on skills that you didn’t have the time to work on before. You build life-changing habits like meditation, journaling, reading, writing, etc. You start an online business to support your income.

To be honest, I chose the first option when the crisis hit. I thought it’ll be over soon. I had no plans. Our clients were on the brink of bankruptcy. We weren’t getting paid. The gym was closed so I didn’t exercise regularly. I was bored and wasted time. I tried to take my mind off from reality by indulging in distractive pleasures.

But then I realized the damage I was doing to myself. I switched completely. And it’s never too late to switch.

So here’s how I’m taking advantage of this opportunity


I’ve been meditating for the past 10 months. Yet, the length and depth of my sessions were not satisfying.

I couldn’t sit longer for 30 minutes at a time for a variety of reasons. My posture wasn’t suited to my level of flexibility and thus my legs went numb or started paining.

Throughout the day, I was often unfocused or restless which made its way into my meditation sessions.

Noticing these limitations, I increased the length of my sessions to an hour, twice a day.

Increasing the depth of my meditation is much more difficult and still a work in progress. But I’m making a few lifestyle changes to make that happen

I avoid multi-tasking and concentrate on a single task.

I also try to remain quiet when I’m not required to speak. It doesn’t mean I’m restricting myself from expressing. But sarcastic comments and unnecessary gossip harm my peace of mind.

Whenever I’m free, I take 5 minutes to center myself or reduce the restlessness in the body with some energization exercises.

The integration of mindfulness throughout the day is something I’ve struggled to do for a long time. Having the energy to think, plan, and execute on it right now will give huge returns in the future.

If you don’t already meditate, it’s the best time to give it a try.

On the other hand, if you have a mindfulness practice, let it flow throughout your days. These small, mindful moments will give you fascinating results over time.


All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking — Friedrich Nietzsche

I used to commute every day. Even if I was at home I still used to walk to my gym which ensured some physical activity.

After the quarantine, I noticed a huge reduction in my daily step count. I also started having minor aches in my hips and lower back from sitting all day. So I decided to include a 30-minute walk in the evening to help me think and also reach the daily 10,000-step mark.

Yes, I’m one of those Fitbit guys obsessed with the number of steps!

It also induces diffused thinking to help connect dots and link neural processes.

Though I never gave any importance to this, it has become one of the most important pillars in my daily routine.

It’s highly likely that you’re working from home and not getting out a lot. Try taking a walk alone or with your loved ones. It’ll improve your thinking and deepen your relationships. Listen to music, call up a friend, or take your work calls while walking. Spice it up as you like!

Idea Machine

This is a mental exercise popularized by James Altucher. Basically, you write 10 ideas on a topic every day. I’ve been doing this for almost 45 days.

Why? Because ideas are the currency today. If you’re an “idea machine”, you can get through any situation. Even execution is a subset of ideas.

But your idea muscle atrophies like your legs would if you stop using them for a week or two.

According to James,

It takes at least six months of coming up with ideas every day before you are an “idea machine”. Then your life will change every six months. I’ve said this before but my life is completely different than it was six months ago, and six months before that, and so on. So different there is no way I could’ve predicted the differences. Six months ago I had no podcast. Now it’s a big part of my day. Six months before that, “Choose Yourself” had not come out. Six months before that, I had not yet gone on several board seats that have done well for me.

If you stop coming up with ideas for 2 weeks, it can take 3–6 months to build it up again.

Claudia Azula Altucher, James’ wife, has written a book called “Become an Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are the Currency of the 21st century”. It’s centered around this practice and has 180 topics to ideate upon.

If you follow the list every day, you’ll find yourself getting more ideas in every situation.

I’ve to admit it’s tough. It may take you up to 30 minutes to complete your first list. Over time, as your idea muscle becomes stronger, you can do it in much less.

If the voice in your head says “I don’t have time!”, try clubbing this exercise with a walk. Two birds with one stone!

Home Workouts

I never thought things will be so bad that my gym would shut down. I was stupid.

On 16th March, I came home from the gym and heard that it was my last workout there for at least two weeks. The government imposed a lockdown till 31st March. The situation had to be reassessed at the end to see if an extension is needed.

I was still optimistic about the future! I thought gyms would open in April. I wasted those days doing little to no exercise. After all, a break for 1–2 weeks is not a big deal.

You can see how I fell into the ‘positivity’ trap to justify my laziness.

When I realized it’ll take much longer for gyms to reopen, I took my old weights out. I’m not a big fan of working out with light weights or bodyweight. I’m used to lifting heavy on compound movements.

Suddenly I found myself at home not being able to do any of those. It took me a long time to form a new routine and get used to it.

But I had to do it anyway because I could not lose 4 or more months of training. The pain in the future is not worth the pleasures in the present moment.

Working out from home is easy but finding a workout that you love is difficult. You need to look forward to my workouts. If you don’t like it, you’ll cut corners. So invest time in trying different workouts and choose the one you enjoy the most.


On top of intermittent fasting, I’ve added a 24-hour water fast every Saturday.

This is not related to whether we’re in lockdown or not. You can add this fast otherwise as well. But it’s another step you can take to improve your health during these times.

Working from home means that you can eat whenever you feel like eating. Tossing a cookie or a piece of chocolate in your mouth doesn’t seem like a big deal. But over time those extra calories and sugar can lead to undesirable results.

Fasting helps you to avoid emotional eating. It also balances the scale if you do eat something unhealthy.

Note: Don’t think intermittent fasting or fasting once a week is your ticket to eat anything you want. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately!

Waking Up Early

I’ve been a morning person all my life. Before the lockdown, I was waking up around 6 am. You may think it’s pretty good. But for me, it wasn’t up to the mark.

I wanted to push it a bit further. Around 5-ish.

But changing the routine is a challenge for all of us. Late dinners, meetings, calls, family time, etc stop you from getting into bed at the right time (9 pm for me)

Changing your sleep schedule can be a bit taxing on your body as well. You can feel tired for a day or two as you start to wake up earlier. Since you’re at home, you could handle the shift by taking a small nap if needed.

So finally, I’ve made it a regular habit to wake up by 5:15 am, meditate, do the “idea machine” practice, and exercise. I’m able to complete all of this and take a shower before 8 am — ready for work.

Think of all these habits as routines that you can build. Mix them up as you like to make a routine that works for you.

Touch Typing

Touch typing is something I’ve been looking to learn for years. Every time I tried it, I felt miserable. Using my ring finger or pinkie on the keyboard was tough.

Do you have the same problem?

Then know that you have to practice at least 2–4 weeks to get good at it. The key is to not quit halfway and go back to your ineffective style of writing.

With more time on your hands, you can finally tackle touch typing. I find Keybr to be the best resource for this. Their software is intelligently designed to prevent you from writing useless words that you never use.

It uses machine learning to analyze your patterns and figure out your weak spots. It then trains you more on your weaknesses until you master the keyboard.

Since typing is most likely a part of your daily life, this is one of the best meta-skills that you can learn. It saves time, effort, typos, and your reputation!

Other Distractions

If all this is not enough, you can kick up the difficulty up a notch!

A Dopamine Fast.

Our homes are full of countless distractions — YouTube, TV, Movies, Netflix, Social Media, Video Games, News, etc. These are also present at workplaces but their effect is amplified during the lockdown.

If you can train your focus when the distractions have the toughest hold on you, you can work 10 times better in favorable work environments.

It’s Your Turn

Write down 5 things that you have been putting off for later. Good habits to build. Bad ones to drop. Skills to learn. If you like, pick something from the habits mentioned above.

Once you have a list, start working on them one at a time. There’s still time to take advantage of the lockdown if you start now.

Post your list in the comments to inspire others. Let’s make the best of this opportunity!

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Written on June 11, 2020