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  • Writer's pictureGoran Yerkovich

Parallels to 1918 Pandemic, Facts vs Fiction, and Practical Goal Setting Tools

Updated: May 3, 2020

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In a pandemic there are four stages to brace for: the beginning, the middle, the end, and the aftermath. In this article, as we settle into the middle, we look at the road ahead as seen through an event 102 years ago, review the three wave theory, and close by focusing on how to empower you into action, using The-Inspired's practical goal setting tools.

So what will happen next? How long will this last? Will things go back to normal sometime this summer or perhaps this fall?

Let's start by looking at the 19 18 pandemic which might be the best comparison on what to expect next. We'll also remove some fact verses fiction, and offer up potential outcomes based on historical data and model predictions from the CDC and Harvard.

The U.S. Army 39th regiment wear masks to prevent influenza in Seattle in December of 1918. The soldiers are on their way to France / Everett Historical / Shutterstock

FACT: The Spanish Flu wasn't the Spanish Flu

While researching the Spanish Flu of 1918 for comparisons to COVID-19, I came across a presentation by the CDC in 2018. It was called "1918 Pandemic Partner Webinar" published July 18, 2018.

CDC's webinar commemorated the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 Spanish Flu by asking the question "what would happen if the Spanish Flu hit us today?"

The similarities and accuracy of some gaps to what IS happening with COVID-19 are startling. But first, let's correct a few things about the Spanish Flu.

Fact vs Fiction - The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918:

  • The 1918 Spanish Flu originated from Haskell, Kansas, USA from a swine or avian source such as a pig or bird.

  • The virus was then transmitted by American soldiers who travelled via crowded boats across to Europe, including Spain.

  • The virus's origin or spread had nothing to do with Spain, but since Spain's government was willing to admit they had cases of it, the virus was inappropriately titled the "Spanish Flu."

  • The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 is really an outbreak of the first known H1N1 virus.

FACT: The CDC's has Been Warning us About Another Global Pandemic for Years

The CDC webinar presentation continued with some alarming predictions and worst case scenarios. These 2018 predictions gives more reason to believe (if you don't already) that the extreme measures governments are taking today will save tens of millions of lives:

1918 Pandemic Partner Webinar by the CDC

In the CDC presentation, there were also accurate predictions including the incredible global surveillance effort underway tracking the data daily:

1918 Pandemic Partner Webinar by the CDC

And accurate predictions on gaps the rest of the world didn't take seriously enough, like reusable respiratory protective devices, ventilator access, and overwhelmed health care systems:

1918 Pandemic Partner Webinar by the CDC

Lineages of related viruses, the virus family for COVID-19, showed how H1N1 was the first to hit globally, and how variations of H2N2 or H3N2 came and went as well:

1918 Pandemic Partner Webinar by the CDC

But this next graph was the one that struck me as most interesting, and the best predictor of what might come next. The 1918 Flu came in three pandemic waves:

1918 Pandemic Partner Webinar by the CDC

Three waves over 18 months. It's hard to fathom 18 months of self isolation is ahead, but it may not be as bad as it first sounds.

That timeframe is unlikely to come all in one long, never ending "stay at home routine."

Governments around the world know economies and people can not sustain this for ever. And there is at least some good news in this.

Recovering soldiers watch a motion picture show wearing flu masks at U.S. Army Hospital Number 30 in Royat, France / U.S. National Library of Medicine

The Good News Part 1: Some curves are flattening

Some curves are flattening, like in Italy, a place badly hit by the virus. And with it, perhaps, a glimpse into our own future.

From Wuhan, China we see an example of what the new normal looks like. Shops are reopening, people are going outside, people are visiting parks and beginning to travel.

Consumers are no longer just buying goods for day to day use, they are buying clothing again, or other items they stopped consuming over the past three months. Some people are going back to work.

An open-air barber shop. Public events were encouraged to be held outdoors to hinder the spread of the disease during the influenza epidemic. Photographed at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1919 National Archives

The Good News Part 2: Three Waves = Social Distancing Breaks

As Global News reports, there is word we may experience "intermittent" breaks, meaning social distancing, or physical distancing as my wife says, won't last forever:

"While it’s unclear what extended epidemic controls would look like in Canada at this point, analysis by Harvard researchers, released March 27 ahead of peer review, suggested that multiple “intermittent” periods of physical distancing might be a more effective strategy for saving lives than continuing with “strict” distancing measures."

This mean learning to go back out in public wearing masks and still practicing forms of physical distancing like everyone else did back in 1918. This is what the new normal might be like for the next 18 months. And that's ok in my books.

Left: A conductor checks to see if potential passengers are wearing required masks in Seattle, in 1918. Right: A mask is worn by a street sweeper in New York in 1918. The admonition of the New York Health Board to wear masks to check the spread of influenza epidemic was: "Better ridiculous than dead

Library of Congress via AP, National Archives

This pandemic is with us now. What we next depends on how well we cooperate as one nation in one world. But what you do next matters also. We are masters of our own fate in so much as what we do with our personal time. The new time, the time we didn't have before, for those of us who are stuck at home.

As we've said in the articles before - now is the time to get started and get working on you and your goals.

A typist wears her influenza mask in October of 1918. Worried by the hold that disease had taken in New York City, practically all workers covered their faces in gauze masks as a protection against disease.

National Archives

We Are the Authors of our Fate: The Power In You

Below is a list I wish someone shared with me when I needed it most. This list works in good times and in bad. If you're wondering what to do with your time now, look inwards to your authentic self for advice.

What was something you've always wanted to do, but never had the time to get started? This of course, will mean you do that thing, for now, from home. And that's ok. Because this won't last forever.

Here's my list on how to develop a goal that matters to you. And get moving on it too.

Building the future of your dreams can come in the strangest of times and places, and now might just be your time to shine:

Top 10 Rules To Get You Moving Towards your Goals

  1. Decide the ONE thing that you ARE or WANT to be. Success won't come if you try to take on 10 things at once. Pick 1 goal and give 110%

  2. Act As If - Once you've defined your goal, act as IF you’ve already reached it. How will you act differently? Would you be more disciplined in how you lived if you'd reached that goal?

  3. Conversations that Matter - If you're not sure which goal to work on, have a conversation with someone you trust about it. They may know you better than you know yourself.

  4. Build your Brand - Every moment working on your goal is an opportunity to build your brand, your identity. It’s the way people see you. Be a professional in what you set out to do.

  5. Your reputation enters the room before you do. Understand that if your reputation is damaged only you can rebuild it. Your reputation in how you work towards your goal matters. Goals should not come at all costs. Integrity will build your reputation. And people like integrity.

  6. Read like you’ve never read before. This could be online and could include online courses too. Look for book recommendations to help you with the goal you're working towards. And reading 10 to 25 pages per day won't hurt either. With goal setting comes learning about how best to achieve your goal.

  7. Execute your ideas. Get started. Now. Even if you don’t have the exact formula worked out, execute. This means working on your goal on a daily basis. 30 mins, 1 hour. Make it happen. Once you're in motion you'll become unstoppable.

  8. The 10x's rule - work harder than you've ever worked before. If you're working towards a goal you have to put in the hard work to make it happen. You can slow down later once you reach your goal.

  9. Set Weekly Goals and make sure you complete your tasks on schedule. This one is really all about self discipline to ensure you are continuing to move forward.

  10. Balance. Find balance in your daily life. These are Daily Habits to improve how you live. These habits will keep you healthy, keep you balanced and sustain your progress.

Thanks for reading. Until next time. Stay healthy. Stay Strong. And Thrive.

- Goran Yerkovich

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China Ends Wuhan Lockdown, but Normal Life Is a Distant Dream

The Atlantic: Photos of the 1918 Flu Pandemic

No return to ‘normality’ until coronavirus vaccine is available, Trudeau says

What if COVID-19 comes in waves, as other pandemics have?

----------------------------------------'s related links:

1. What is the Single Most Important Factor in Reaching Your Goals?

How the idea of hope can change your life. Just ask the Olympic athletes who live by this rule

2. Does Sharing Goals Help or Hurt Your Chances of Success?

Accountability Partner is proven to work, if it's a close friend. Don't tell strangers.

3. The Inspired Foundations Articles: How Your Foundations Matter in Reaching Your Goals. Simple tips, routines, principles and habits to get you started.

4. Be Brave Enough to Suck at Something New: Is there something you've always wanted to do, a personal dream sitting there, a goal, still waiting to be realized?

5. Flow Will Change Your Life: Creating Goals Begins with Understanding Your Flow. Personal Growth meets the real authentic you. How understanding your passions will fuel your progress, happiness & personal growth.

6. Meditation - Skinny Dipping, Polar Bears, & Debunking Common Myths of Meditation

COVID-19 Articles: My fact-checked articles with plenty of tools, tips and links to get you through the days ahead:

11. How Do I Self Isolate? The More You Know The Less You Fear - An Astronaut's Guide During COVID-19

12. Unsung Heroes: The International Team Mapping the Real-Time Spread of COVID-19: How to Take Action.


Get your Free eBook The Inspired Guide to Self-Evaluation when you"Subscribe" and join the thousands who read for FREE each week. Featured on Quora, Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn.

Goran Yerkovich Founder,

About the author - Goran Yerkovich is the founder of, an online magazine designed to help readers reach their personal goals. The-Inspired includes some of the best tools, tactics, and habits from the greatest minds of today and yesterday. Goran lives in the greater Vancouver area with his wife and two cats Kimchi and Kauai.



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