I want to explore a thought I had during this morning’s bike ride.

What if the COVID pandemic was, in fact, awesome for most of us?

This post is going to be a more positive, but less funny version of Louis CK’s “Of course, but maybe” jokes where he talks about nut allergies, dying in the army, and the benefits of slavery.

Before we start: of course, I would prefer a world where everything goes up all the time (our levels of happiness, health, the stock market, etc), but that’s not how the world works.

But, once in a while, disaster strikes. 

In 2020, COVID hit, and we went through something the world had not experienced since the Spanish flu 100 years ago. If it would have not been for this, experts were anticipating a recession anyway.

COVID for individuals

On a personal level, periods of crisis (recessions, pandemics, etc) make us panic.

We fear for our jobs, our economy, our family, our future. In many ways, the pandemic was way worse than 2008 as we feared the world as we know it is going to end. 

Of course, a lot of people lost their jobs in the pandemic. This can be dramatic, but maybe it’s for the best. 

Being laid off means either that the company you were working for was fragile and you could have lost your job anytime anyway. Or it might just mean you were one of the lowers performers there. 

If you were in the latter situations, it usually means you didn’t enjoy your job (or even hated it). You were probably wasting your potential and affecting your mental health by working for that company. 

2020 was the best time to reconsider what you want to do in life. One of the best exercises to do for that is to try and find what the Japanese call your IKIGAI.

But periods of crisis are also opportunities to come out happier, stronger, better in many ways than before. 

Why? 

Because we get a chance to push the reset button. That’s exactly what I did in 2020. 

Like many others, I felt like I was chasing too many things at once losing sight of what’s really important. So, in 2020 I tried and mostly succeeded to focus on what’s fundamentally important: health, family, and friends. 

During the lockdown I:

1) moved to my parent’s house for 3 months. I spent more time with them in 2020 than I in the previous 3 years combined. 

2) spent more time with my friends. Before COVID, we were growing apart, but being locked down made us talk and play more often. We had video chats and game nights (Starcraft, Counter-Strike, Kahoot!, etc) at least 3 times a week.

3) started working remotely which I wanted to do more of. This gave me the freedom I needed to live happier and where ever I wanted. I had my first digital nomad experience in October when I worked from Athens to prolong my summer.

4) lost 5kg. I was struggling to lose weight before even if I was going to the gym. But working from home enabled me to organize my meals better and I started doing small workouts almost daily at home using this app.

COVID for businesses

For some companies, COVID was dramatic. Especially for those working in hospitality and travel. Most businesses suffered, some filed for bankruptcy, and some thrived.

But COVID has been a blessing in disguise for most businesses. 

The business owners who were struggling before the pandemic could re-assess their business and decide that it was worthwhile to continue. Maybe the business was taking away too much of what matters (health, time with family, friends, etc) and offering not offering them much in return.

For people in this category, it’s time to start fresh with a new business idea, take a break, or get a steady job.

For bigger companies, the pandemic meant they had to find creative ways to do things and cut costs to become more performant. This meant automating more of their work, selling more online, and maybe even letting go of their worst performers (for the company’s sake and their own).

The companies that took uninspired decisions in 2020 will have a hard time coming out of the pandemic and while others will grow faster than ever before.

At Questo, we were hit hard because our mission is to inspire people to go outside and explore cities by following clues.

Then, COVID hit and the whole world stopped.

Fortunately, our tech business was one of the few lucky ones. We could carry on with our regular day to day in the tours and activities market while most companies in the space were shut down indefinitely. 

We saw this as an opportunity to grow. We got creative and re-focused. We worked on creating city games in even more cities. We started working with travel businesses to help them create city exploration games. And it worked so well that we got a new round of funding to take over the world.

In what ways was COVID awesome for you? 

Let me know in the comments.

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