What A Long Year This Month Has Been

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I know when the clock struck 12:01 on January 1, 2021 we didn’t have delusions of grandeur, but there was a small exhalation of breath, a bit of cautious optimism and a few glimmers of hope. And don’t get me wrong, January hasn’t been all poop emojis and doom scrolling, but as an agency founded on warm fuzzy vibes it can feel like the rainbows and unicorns of years past have lost a bit of their luster. That is until the voice of a client twinkles through my phone or a team member shows up dressed up for Zoom.

Between emails of admiration and postcards of kindness, we’ve managed to make this long month of the new year feel manageable. In fact, I myself have learned a lot this January. I’ve learned that many of the items on the list of things we aspired to do in 2020 were checked off. I’ve learned that inspiration still has the power to inspire and relationships are, and will always be, the best way to get through good times and bad. But even more important than all of those things, I’ve learned that gone are the days of business as usual. Business as needed has taken its place.

Business as needed.

What does that even mean? Well, anything and everything. I’ve spent time speaking to tourism clients about peaceful protests in their communities and the devastating loss of small businesses on their main streets. I’ve talked at length to historians about how best to convince organizations to preserve history, including that of 2020. I’ve brainstormed with cities on the ways they can continue to make public health and staying home engaging. I’ve also planned for the unplannable spring festivals, summer conferences and fall fundraising.

Through all of these experiences, it has become evident that businesses have pivoted and are continuing to do so, but they aren’t using that vernacular anymore. Additionally, organizations are moving ahead with strategies for virtual, in-person and hybrid events. Not to mention employees are clocking in in different states, both literally and figuratively. In other words, we’ve stopped pivoting and started doing business, as needed.

What does that look like for you?

You may not have realized it, but you’ve likely started to do business as needed, too. The paralysis caused by the pandemic has lifted slightly and our makeshift workspaces have morphed into defined stations. So, though you likely have no idea what Q4 2021 will look like, you are in a place to gather some ideas for Q1 and Q2. As you begin to cautiously look ahead, I invite you to try a few tricks that I used to give myself the confidence to plan again:

  1. Look back on the goals you set last year.

    I know just saying that makes you want to send me a nasty gram, but I’m serious. We did it for our Q1 team meeting and you know what we discovered – that we actually accomplished quite a few of our goals. So, go ahead, look back and see what you were able to achieve.

  2. Review your organization’s 2020 work/content output.

    I’ve spent a lot of time over the last two months talking with clients about their 2021 strategy, but I don’t jump right into it. Instead, we talk about everything we did together in 2020. Again, I know this is weird as we are all trying to move past 2020, but for most of our clients it’s a nice reminder that although the world shut down, things still managed to get done. And sometimes even better things came out of the bad.

  3. Take baby steps.

    There is absolutely no need to have June planned out in January. But you can and should have some actionable items on the list for February and maybe a few for March. When you have a few doable ideas written down, it’s a lot easier to accomplish them.

  4. Don’t forget your commitment to change and diversity.

    2020 was a year of reckoning, and for a period of time we were all making pretty big promises to do better and be better, which is awesome. However, it’s important to bring those changes with you into 2021. Plus, you already started doing these things, so it’s less about planning and more about implementing.