The distinct stages of recovery – a framework

The distinct stages of recovery – a framework

As I write this, the Victorian government has just announced 134 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed overnight. The earlier downward curve Australia had experienced is rising sharply……specifically in Victoria.

It got me thinking about this whole period of, well, 2020.

My thoughts keep coming back to the 12 steps program, the addict’s process of recovery and the moving into a life of sobriety. When I view the year to date, the severity and volatility of the pandemic, and the immediate impact it has had on the people of the world, I can’t help but feel there needs to be some sort of framework for recovery to guide us all through it.

These are some initial thoughts based on how we deal with challenges when they crop up. It is by no means intended to be prescriptive, more something someone who might be feeling a little lost with their current state and unsure what to do or how to do it can take something from.

Please let us know how you tackle challenges and rise from adversity; we’d love to know and update this list.


Quickly assess the problem and its severity. Understand the situation for what it is with as little emotion as possible (*this can be tricky, we hear you).

We are going for a bare facts approach here, don’t waste a lot of time on the details – we’ll get to those shortly.

There will likely be people around you operating with their heads in the sand, oblivious and unaware of the situation unfolding around them. This may be unintentional, or due to their inability to face an uncertain and worrying reality.

Bring them into your circle and explain the problem briefly and concisely. Get them thinking about the challenges and what they might be able to do to help.

Accept the situation

Don’t wallow in it, it is what it is. No amount of lamenting over what could have been is going to change the situation.

No amount of blame is going to change where you are right now. None of it matters.

Resisting what is already fact is futile, don’t waste any more energy on it.

Accept the reality of the situation. You don’t have to accept the finality.

There is a terrific video doing the rounds at present by Ben Crowe of Mojo Crowe all about acceptance and perspective. It’s really worth a look. –

Take Stock

What resources do you have to hand? How quickly can you obtain new/more/better/different resources? What liabilities do you have? What dead wood are you carrying? What can you change instantly that will free you from current restraint?

Be realistic about your current state. Recognition of the present time, place and situation help to ground us and makes it easier to see what’s on the horizon.

Some questions to ask yourself:

What assets do you have?

What liabilities do you have?

What opportunities can you immediately see to pivot?

What team/network do you have around you who you can leverage off for contacts, ideas, assistance?

Now is the time to gather your recovery team. This could be a mix of employees, suppliers, colleagues, even clients (if you both feel comfortable). Make sure everyone understands their role and what’s required of them to move forward.

Set some goals

Don’t make huge and life-changing goals, you quite possibly aren’t in the right place emotionally for that right now. Set some small goals that will help lead you through the next 30, 60 and 90 days.

Set goals that will get you a few wins on the board and help you keep moving forward.

Do some forecasting: What cash will you need? What production schedule? Are there deeper, systemic issues that need to be addressed?

Draft your plan

Use the goals you have set to plan out the small actions that will assist you in achieving your goals.

Breaking down the goal into manageable, actionable steps makes the whole thing less daunting.


A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Now you have to put in the work. Mobilize your team, ensure everyone understands the role they play and the outcome you are working towards. Be sure to keep the team engaged and focused, periods of extreme stress can cause burnout and burnout in a team can cause widespread issues.

Follow the plan, be mindful of roadblocks and naysayers. Be open and responsive to adapting on the fly.

If it’s all moving too fast and you can’t keep up don’t be afraid to slow the situation down. Take a step back, regroup and hit it again.

There is no point burning out or losing grip while trying to recover.

Go easy on yourself and let yourself rest.

Examine and Adjust

Each week take a look back at what you’ve done. Think about what you would do differently if you were in that same scenario again.

Ask yourself if the plan you set is in keeping with your goal.

Ask yourself if your goal is in keeping with what you need/want.

Make small corrections to your course each week to help keep your plans and goals relevant and serving you and your needs.

It’s easier to correct early on in the piece than to have to start over towards the end.

Done is better than perfect.

Nothing will ever be perfect.

Don’t even aim for it.

Aim for a viable, working model of what you want to achieve, then tweak it.

Don’t waste time niggling over perfection. It’s a waste of time, focus and energy.


Now that you are through the thick of it, it’s time to start thinking about some larger/longer term projects. It’s quite likely there is still an air of volatility around you, so be sure not to place to much pressure on yourself to be/have the biggest and best.

Considered, manageable goals are key to ensuring momentum.

Now is a good time to start thinking about longer time financial requirements that will put you in good stead should another crisis hit you or your business. Sit with your professional advisers and work out what strategies you need in place for the future (We’re part of that team! You can contact us here).

It’s also a great time to think about your team. Who do you really need on your side? How do they contribute? What skills and attributes do you see your team needing for the future?

Make your staffing plans now to set you up for the best opportunity to retain the people you want and advertise for the team members you need.


Throughout your financial recovery it is important to keep communicating. With your friends, loved ones, clients, suppliers; keep the lines open and be honest about what you are working to achieve. They will rally around you and support you the best they can.

Communicating openly builds trust and credibility. Your business needs to be able to emerge from this period with trust and credibility at the forefront. People do business with people they trust.

Managing your emotions and energy levels

One of the most difficult things you can have to deal with during this time is yourself. The raging surge of emotions from shock to anger to depression to disbelief, to denial, to eerie calm. You will go through them all at various stages and with varying intensity. When the emotions hit and you aren’t sure what to do with them or how to cope, reach out.

Here are some people who can assist:

Beyond Blue




And here are some people who can help with personal financial counselling.

In conclusion

The rest of 2020 is likely to be tough. Taking small, manageable steps will keep you moving forward at a pace you can work with. Please reach out if we can help in any way, or if we can introduce you to someone in our network.

If you aren’t friends with Scott on LinkedIn, you can do so via this link. –

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.