This article appeared on on May 4, 2020.

Let me start by saying I’ve been there. To be fair, when I lost my job many years ago it was not due to a global pandemic, but the lessons I learned in the aftermath still apply. Fear not. All is not lost. You just have some work to do.

1. But first, take a moment to mourn

You weren’t expecting this. Everything seemed like it was going great and then, out of nowhere, you lost your job. In some cases, your career. Everything you were working for just vanished. Your income and financial stability? Gone. Your savings? At best, on hold. Your daily routine? Completely uprooted. Nobody’s going to blame you for getting upset. So go ahead and cry. Get pissed off. It’s okay to be a little scared. But whatever you do, don’t let the fear take over. Give yourself a moment, then remember you’re strong and in charge of your own future. Everything that happens from here on is entirely up to you, and that’s actually pretty cool and empowering.

2. Make your plan – and stick to it

Take some time to identify your own opportunities. Whether your goal is to wait out the quarantine, find another job as soon as possible, or to finally take that big leap and start your own business from home, it’s going to take a well-crafted plan to get through the process and make it happen. What steps would you need to take now, while you have the time, to be in the strongest position possible? Would taking an online class or enrolling in school full-time help you get there? Schools and specialty programs around the world are adapting to online learning. Many of them are offering free or discounted courses right now. Take advantage of those opportunities while you can.

Even if you’re playing with the idea of changing your career path and deciding what new direction to take, don’t just sit around watching Friends reruns, feeling lost. Focus your energy and time on exploring your interests. Read blogs, watch YouTube tutorials, and even email some experts you find online for their advice. Remember, they’re stuck at home right now too and would probably welcome some interaction from someone who is genuinely interested in what they do.

Whether you’re taking online classes, teaching yourself some new skills, or focusing on your business plan, the most important thing is to stay active and productive. Develop small, attainable goals for the month ahead. Then again for next three months, and so on. Whatever you do, don’t simply proclaim a lofty, amazingly awesome goal like, “I want to be a world-traveling beer critic,” and then give up when you feel overwhelmed. If that’s your goal (and let’s face it, it probably is now that I’ve mentioned it) make your plan, step-by-step, and then get up every morning and cross things off your list.

3. Separate “work” from “home”

The number one obstacle between you and future success right now is you and you alone; and working from home, only steps away from your cozy bed and Netflix, is going to be a challenge. Even for those of us who have done it for years, the temptation to slack is perpetual. Damn you, Tiger King!

The best way to alleviate the urge to veg is to create a “work space” at home that is completely separate from your “home space,” if it’s possible. A designated office with a door is best, but if the space doesn’t exist, create one. Put a chair and cardboard box as a table in a corner if you have to. As long as you’re not sitting in bed or on the sofa in front of the TV you’ll be better able to focus. And, maybe more importantly, at the end of the day you can walk away from your desk and enjoy being at home without feeling like you never left work. I can’t stress enough how important that is.

4. To dress or not to dress?

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this question. Some people I’ve spoken to get up and dress as if they’re still heading to the office every day. Ironed shirts, shoes, socks, the whole thing. Then they sit at their kitchen tables and don’t speak to anyone all day. Other people I know have been living for weeks in pajama pants covered in Cheetos powder. My advice would be to find a happy, middle ground. Shower regularly. For the love of Pete, brush your teeth. And put on clothes every morning. They don’t have to be “work clothes,” but getting dressed is good for your motivation. If you feel like you’ve never gotten out of bed, you’ll never feel like being productive. Oh, and you probably know this already, but make sure to wake up at a reasonable time in the morning. Sleeping in is the death of productivity. Period.

5. Prepare to weather the storm

Let’s be honest. On some days, depression will inevitably take over, and that’s okay. You’re not alone. We all go through it. Just remember that you’re in charge now and you owe it to yourself to snap out of it as soon as you can and keep your eye on the ball. You’ll feel better as soon as you shift focus to something productive. Guaranteed.

Even in the best of times, being out of work is not easy. It takes a toll on your finances, for sure, but also your pride, your motivation, and your courage. And, let’s face it, this could take a while. So, hunker down. Assess your resources. Change some habits that no longer fit your current situation. And above all else, stay busy. There’s nothing like lethargy to derail your plans. That doesn’t mean you need to suddenly become a Type-A lunatic if you were never one before. By all means, go ahead and take breaks. Personally, I love a good nap. They’re good for you. But make it short and when you get up, get right back to work and go to bed with some sense of accomplishment every day.

6. No, this is not forever

There’s no denying there are going to be some rough times ahead. It’s going to be depressing, demoralizing, and very scary every now and then. If you have a family that depends on you it’s going to be even scarier. Just remember, this won’t last forever. The world will get back to normal at some point and the preparations and plans you make in the meantime will only put you in a stronger position when it does.

Remember, you’re not alone. Stay focused. Stay hopeful. You’ve got this.