How to move forward positively when everything has changed
A strange layer of mist appeared on the meadows near the Thames the other day. One minute you could see people, the next they were gone. To me 2020 often felt like that, like a world caught in dense fog. Knowing how to move forward positively when everything has changed, is not easy.
There has been crisis after crisis since the pandemic started and it is understandable that we worry about the future, about staying safe and not knowing what to do next. After all, there has been no rulebook, no strategy, no guidance to help us through!
Everything has changed
What have you had to adapt to since the pandemic started?
- To staying at home more?
- To new ways of working?
- Different ways to market yourself?
- Not knowing whether to plan or how far to plan ahead?
- To staying connected online only?
- To wearing a mask and keeping your distance?
- To buying less and spending your money more cautiously?
- Changing what you sell and who you sell to?
- And then there’s where you go, who you see, what you wear. Or how you spend your time off!
I could go on… What a list of decisions and adjustments many of us we have had to make!
But this year has not just been about doing things differently. You’ve probably also had to let go of expectations and putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. And this may not have been easy either.
Change happens – and always comes with important lessons
The pandemic is unlike anything that has happened to us before. It has had a destructive effect on whole industries causing unprecedented change to so many businesses. As if that wasn’t enough, it comes with serious health worries for many of us. We now have to protect ourselves and our loves ones from harm.
I’ve been through two previous recessions, the first one caused by the Dot.com crash 20 years ago. Losing one big customer after another in quick succession, I found myself in a state of shock and denial. Always hoping that sooner or later everything would return to normal. It didn’t. I came scarily close to losing my business.
Then another recession started in 2008. I was running motivational speaker events and (for the time) groundbreaking social media training for self-employed women. They were popular and did attract government funding as well as sponsorship from big banks and businesses. But it didn’t take long for all the funding to disappear.
Although this time I had another income stream that tied me over. I count myself lucky in a sense that I had already learned my lessons from the Dot.com crash. The pandemic may be unprecedented but the lessons about being open to change and being both flexible and proactive are similar.
I haven’t forgotten how tough these lessons can be. On social media I follow a few people who continue to use the same old messages with an audience that lost interest a long time ago. They still haven’t accepted that there is no demand for what they offer now. It seems being in denial is like wearing a blindfold!
Your feelings matter!
When everything changes, you may be feeling a strong sense of loss about all the things you miss. Loss will come with a lot of difficult emotions. I know.
I’ll share with you what I wrote on Instagram recently: “When the pandemic hit like a tornado and we struggled to understand what was happening, we all reacted in our own different ways. Early on, because of my lung disease, I was told to hide away, to “shield” as they called it. I could have felt safe, yet instead I felt helpless, even angry at times. I would often vent my frustration at the government’s poor handling of the crisis.
Luckily (perhaps) I’d been through many previous experiences of major change, even in my business. So I remembered that my reactions, including the feelings of anger, would often be caused by fear. Change is often like that – a frightening and confusing time.
I can’t quite recall when exactly I decided to acknowledge my fears and to embrace the “fog” of 2020, the not seeing and not knowing. I’m just glad I did.”
Had I not accepted my fears, I’m sure every single action of mine would have been influenced by some level of anxiety. I know that I would not have stepped out of my comfort zone when I needed to. And, if I hadn’t taken those brave steps, I would not have learned and grown as a person either.
So it’s always good to try and understand what’s going on for you. Not everything is always as it seems. Sometimes, when we can’t move forward positively because overwhelm stops us from processing what is going on around us. (If this strikes a chord, here are some tips about overwhelm, worry, and burnout)
If you need help untangling it all, please consider sharing your feelings with those you trust. Someone once said that a burden shared is a burden halved. I find that to be true.
How to follow your heart when everything has changed
It seems to me that the gulf between the business that is just in it for the money, and the one that follows a passion too is getting greater. Each has a right to exist but I believe it’s the passion business that holds more long-term promise because it attracts much greater loyalty from customers that share similar values.
It can also be more enjoyable to run when you know the difference you are making to your clients. But this can also make it more painful when you see them go through massive change. Especially when they can’t afford you anymore.
There is always a danger of rushing in and wanting to help. But without considering all your options, you could give away your best work for free or low cost. It can be difficult to recover from that financially.
However, there is nothing to say that you can’t still help and follow your heart. One business owner I know decided not to reduce her online training or her 1-to-1 service. Most of her customers are buying as before but those who are struggling due to the pandemic can apply for a ‘scholarship’ place. There are a limited number of places and, as a result, the business is still going from strength to strength!
We did something similar with our most recent course over at AttractReaders. And we also offered a “choose what you want to pay” option which worked really well. So it’s always a good idea to rethink how you position your service, what you say and how you sell it. And sometimes, you might want to look for a new market altogether.
Now is the time to be open. Please follow your heart, but do try to have a good understanding too what is going on in your (prospective) clients’ world and what they most need right now. The best things happen when you marry the two!
Why gratitude is important for a positive mindset
Expressing our appreciation can really help us to move forward positively when everything has changed. There is a big gratitude movement online and you can tune in by looking for the #gratitude hashtag. (#Gratitudedaily happens to be one of my favourites on Instagram.)
When you think about everything you are grateful for, you don’t always want to look for big achievements. A single decision or change of thinking can make a huge difference as you can see from my list:
- I am grateful for overcoming my fear of sharing a very personal story for a book project called “What if life were meant to be easy?”. Because it is now available on Amazon as a compilation of 20 inspiring stories
- For accepting that some good long-term projects had to come to an end when the pandemic started. I could have felt very disheartened but I didn’t
- For deciding to ignore my doubts about joining a new coaching project in a global company. I have now mastered the complex technology that had scared me (a surprise and an added bonus!). I enjoy the coaching too and can now relax a little about my own marketing.
- For gaining a much more mindful approach to nature – more than anything, this has helped me to stay sane!
What do you feel grateful for?
And were there any surprises? Was it anything you did, learned or let go of?
Why not write it all down. (Incidentally, if you write blog posts for your business, could this be a good topic for your blog?)
I hope you feel better about moving forward positively and with confidence in these times of change. Regardless of how disorientating life has been, or how much your business or your career may have suffered, you made it this far.
And that is definitely something to be grateful for.
My name is Ute Wieczorek-King. If you’d like to have a chat about your next steps, please contact me. I’ve been coaching officially for 18 years, and been in business much longer than that. Recently, a client told me: “I didn’t think I needed help on this occasion, but my partner encouraged me to talk to you. I now have a direction and I can honestly say this has been more useful than I could have ever imagined!”