A fifth wave, the possibility of new public health measures, disrupted supply chains and a worker shortage. Is there no end in sight?
It’s like jumping into a life raft as the ship begins to founder, and as hard as you paddle, the safety of the shore never gets closer. Your very mettle is tested to the core, and as resilient as you thought you were, there’s only so long you can hold out.
Even in the best of times, life can be like this. Everyone experiences unexpected twists and turns – the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, the loss of a livelihood, bankruptcy, divorce – the list goes on. Each changes us; some a little, others a lot. Each has the potential to break us. But each also has the power to make us stronger and more resilient, able to adapt more quickly in the face of trauma, adversity, threats and significant stress. Resilience allows us to bounce back from the struggles of life. It can also lead to profound personal and professional growth.
None of these challenges, these tides of change, need to define you. You can recognize them for what they are – events that happened. They are part of a past that you can’t change. The future is unknown. The only thing you truly have control over is this very moment. In the present, you can use your powers of resiliency to move forward, reinventing yourself and your business in the process.
Moving forward is tough, I know. I’ve been there. I have been through half a dozen times in my life where I had to pick up the pieces of my life and reinvent and restart, often from scratch and with little to no support from friends or family.
At times, I thought I couldn’t go on. But there’s just no way that I was going to let circumstances – let alone life – beat me. Each time, little by little, I became more resilient. I had run the gauntlet before. I knew that there would eventually be a finish line, or at least a place where I could catch a breath and regroup. I never gave up, no matter what the odds and found a way to adapt more quickly and rebuild and restart. Yes, it was traumatic, complicated and stressful. Change always is. But I was not about to let it ever get the best of me.
I wasn’t born with this superpower. It was a skill that I had to learn. Often, I was schooled by life itself, taught the harsh lessons it was hell-bent on teaching me. Other times, I had to master new skills to weather and master the many twists and turns life presented, turning them into new opportunities.
Skills you can learn to increase resiliency.
Personal Relationships. Start by building a support network. Find trustworthy, compassionate people who will validate how you feel, not criticize or question you. You are not alone in your feelings. Find those who understand them and support your journey. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself and indulge in a pity party with just one guest – you.
Help others. Become part of something bigger than you. Join a civic group or a local organization that serves the community. Help a friend in need, or maybe a needy family at your church. Find a higher purpose through service. This will help you gain perspective while engaging in activities that will improve the lives of others and the community at large.
Avoid self-destructive practices. Your mental, emotional and physical health is interconnected. Get a good night’s sleep, exercise, eat well, stay hydrated and stay away from substances that will only mask problems, not solve them. You may want to try journaling, meditation, yoga, or other spiritual practices that allow you to clear your mind of negativity, promote forgiveness, and heal you – mind, body, and soul.
Give yourself grace. If your business has closed or is struggling, give yourself some grace. Most of the forces at play in the economy during the pandemic were beyond your control. Much of it still is. You can’t mend a broken supply chain on your own or force people to work for you. Restarting an economy is complex, and quite frankly, it’s never been tried before at this level. Take a break from the daily news cycles, try to calm those doom and gloom voices in your head and realize that everyone – your suppliers, your competitors, your customers and staff – are all going through the same or similar journey.
Take small, manageable steps. If a problem seems too big to handle, break it down into smaller pieces that you can manage. Develop attainable goals for rebuilding or restarting your business. Create a checklist to see progress. Prioritize the list and check off a few items each day. Stop looking down the road too far. Again, you only have right now. Ask yourself, “What can I do today to move forward, either personally or professionally?”
Find joy. Remind yourself that what happened in the past doesn’t dictate what the future will be like. You have the power to change almost every aspect of your life and your business. Accept that things happened the way they did and find ways to embrace the changes they brought. Change is one of the few constants in life and fighting against it is a total waste of time, energy and spirit. As my wife loves to remind me, “This is a season. It will pass.” Optimism about the future – even about one little thing – can reset your mind. Find things to be thankful for or activities or events to look forward to.
History does not have to repeat itself. If your business teetered on the brink or lost ground in the last 18 months, you can take proactive steps to significantly reduce or even avoid threats to your operations in the future. A business continuity plan will give you clarity in the midst of chaos, simplify decision-making and create a more resilient organization, ready to face any challenge.
If you haven’t checked out our Disaster Planning Guide, perhaps you should. If we learned nothing else from the past 18 months, we’ve learned that even the smallest thing can disrupt the best-laid plans and throw us all into utter chaos.
Somewhere north of the Emerald City, wondering what the future holds,