COVID-19 has felt like an emotional roller coaster for small businesses and entrepreneurs with few highs. The demands on our psychological, emotional and financial resources have changed drastically in a matter of weeks. We are worried about our families. Our livelihood. Our communities. Our world. It has become more important than ever that, as business owners and human beings, we take the time to re-group and focus on methods that will keep us moving forward despite the changes we face. Here are a few tips to help you stay strong and keep going during the pandemic.
Manage Empathy – Without trying very hard, you will find stories that will break your heart. Without sounding cruel, I strongly encourage you to avoid wallowing in the devastation and loss, and instead focus on your ability to respond. Turn your empathy into positive action. Find a way to become part of the good that is happening and engage others to do the same (from a social distance of course!). Empathy without action is sympathy and sympathy will drain your energy and serve no one. Active empathy will energize you and draw on your most creative resources all while uplifting you and those around you.
Keep Your Focus Sharp & Simple – In each of the areas of your life, narrow your current focus down to one sentence. For example: For finances, you could say, “My current focus is to reduce expenses and increase revenue to (revenue goal). State it in the positive and not the negative, (E.g. I want $x per month instead of my goal is to not go broke!). For home life, you could say, “My focus is to be present with my family during the time we spend together.” Maintaining a sharp and simple focus will help you avoid those moments of “What do I do now”, it will also help you stay balanced in your energy and consistent in your efforts.
No Catastrophizing – COVID 19 will be what you make it. If you believe that it could be the end of the world as we know it, then it will be. If you believe it’s the world’s way of making humans slow down, then it will be that too. Whatever belief we build about what this virus means to us will be true because we will make it true. We will project our confirmation bias on everything we see and hear until we feel like the ‘evidence’ of our belief is insurmountable.
So here is where you need to be… COVID-19 is a challenge. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s a challenge to your business. A challenge to your daily routine. And even, a challenge to the way you live your life. That is all that it is. Calling it a historical challenge, the worst challenge or the most devastating challenge of all time is just adding drama and creating psychological drain. To move past it, you need to accept it then respond. Make it an opportunity to grow. You have faced challenges before. As entrepreneurs we build our lives around tackling challenges and solving problem for our clients and our business. So, take this challenge and do what you do best… break down how it affects you, then decide how you can respond to each of the obstacles you now face. Then, take action. No drama required.
Reach Out – Now is the time to get connected and stay connected to a helpful resource – no matter how you are struggling. If you do not yet have a business mentor, find one. Be open. Ask for help. Do not spend time trying to solve problems that others have already conquered. If you are wondering how to get anything done with toddlers running around your feet, find one of the million work-from-home parent blogs! Looking for ways to manage the emotional roller coaster? Reach out to a trusted friend or professional. Struggling with faith or spirituality? Take time to connect with your spiritual community and leaders. Being isolated does not mean we have to be alone. We all do better with the support of our community!
Write a Letter – This is a perspective taking activity that will help you leverage this difficult time to build confidence later! Take some time, get quiet and write a letter to yourself. In that letter, detail every fear you have, every challenge you face, every observation you’ve made, and everything else that makes you feel anything. Pour out everything you feel and think as if you were writing to your most trusted friend. When you are finished, placed the letter in an envelope, seal it, and put it away for safe keeping. 6 months from now, 12 months from now, or whenever the dust has settled, and you have found your new normal… you will take this letter out and get a glimpse of how much you were able to overcome!
These are only a few of the many ways we can stop ourselves from getting caught up in the psychological whirlwind of this global pandemic. Add these to the basics, such as good nutrition, sleep, exercise, and restorative downtime. Turn large objectives into actionable steps and focus on the things that matter.
In the end, the impact of this pandemic on our personal and professional lives will be determined by how committed we were to consistently moving forward … no matter how small the step.
Stay healthy. Keep moving.
Bonnie J. Skinner, RP