The nationwide lockdown, implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19, has been incredibly disruptive and difficult for everybody. Navigating the new normal and planning for what the newer normal will be post-lockdown is particularly challenging, primarily because there is absolutely no certainty in this situation. If you are a control freak or planner like me, the uncertainty is likely causing you a high level of stress. This is unfamiliar ground for us all, whether you are a business owner unsure of how to pivot and stay in business, an employee trying to work from home, or one of the thousands of people who have been furloughed or forced into unemployment. However, none of this is an indicator that we should all retreat to our beds and give up. Now is an opportune time to sit back, take stock, re-evaluate, brainstorm and plan.
What is Strategy and Innovation?
A focus on strategy and innovation can help to give us some order and focus during this chaotic time. These two terms are typically associated with business. However, both are applicable to everyday life:
- Strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.
- Innovation or to be innovative is to make changes in something established, by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. Essentially generating new ideas or ways of doing things.
Why is it important to be strategic?
One of the key reasons it is important to be strategic during this time is due to the high level of uncertainty. Whilst we previously may have thought that our jobs were secure, many people have realised that, unfortunately, they are dispensable. There is no such thing as job security, so many people are now being forced to reevaluate their career plans. As society is changing, it is important to consider how we fit into whatever the new normal will look like. We need to ensure any new plans take into consideration the impact that the worldwide lockdown will have on key industries, the economy and even how people interact daily. Rather than being impulsive or reactive, it is important to be rational, pay attention and be proactive.
Now is the time to really consider if we enjoy what we do and if we are walking in our purpose. If you have realised that you do not enjoy your job, maybe it is the time to choose the career route that you have always been too afraid to pursue. Spend time considering what lights your fire and excites you. Create a vision for your life and career/business that reflects this. Crafting a three-year vision is useful as it is not too far into the future that it feels out of reach, but it is not so immediate that it sends you into a panic. Breakdown in detail exactly what you want your life to look like in three years’ time; what do you want to be doing with your time daily, how much do you want to be earning. Map it all out. Take time to consider the actions you will need to take to achieve that vision, whilst also taking the changing landscape into consideration. Being strategic may include exploring the idea of multiple streams of income. It has become apparent that the individuals least impacted financially by the lockdown are those who have multiple income streams and therefore if one is lost, they have several other income streams to keep them financially balanced. Can you incorporate multiple income streams into your vision?
How can you be more innovative?
Periods of uncertainty can lead to increased periods of innovation. With so much change, there are increased opportunities to create products/services that can help people to adapt to a new way of life. Can you use the current crisis to come up with something innovative? Innovation in some respect should feature in your three-year vision. During the 2008 recession, when people were being particularly cautious about spending, entrepreneur Andrew Mason launched Groupon. There have already been several examples of innovation during the lockdown from homemade PPE production to DJ’s live streaming Instagram and Zoom parties.
Great businesses are often born out of a problem being faced by the founder. In 2009, Uber was launched after the co-founders struggled to get a taxi home one evening. What are some of the problems/challenges you are facing during the lockdown? How could you create a solution? What solution can you create? Unique circumstances can lead to unique responses. Focus on problem-solving and looking at problems from different perspectives. In doing so you may come up with something that helps you in your work, business or life.
How can you remain motivated?
Maintaining motivation levels during times of chaos and confusion is a significant challenge currently being faced by so many of us, particularly for those who may be furloughed or unemployed. A key suggestion is to try and ensure that you are following a daily routine. Easier said than done if you have kids at home too (trust me, I know). But if you don’t have a routine, now is a good time to create one and stick to it. Create a routine that works for you. Waking up at a specific time, getting showered and dressed, time blocking are all great ways to increase motivation levels. Exercising and spending time on mindfulness can also give you the energy boost or brain space you need to get you motivated. Do what you can when you can and when you can’t, don’t guilt-trip yourself. Focus on doing one small thing per day, even if it’s only for half an hour. Half an hour is more than nothing and by focusing on small chunks of activity, you may feel less overwhelmed and subsequently make more progress.
You might be trying to work strategically towards a big vision, or developing an innovative new idea, but struggle to balance that with homeworking and/or caring responsibilities. It can feel frustrating that you’re not able to dedicate the time you want to this, but I encourage you to be patient with yourself and realistic with your circumstances. If you do too much, you can risk burning out, so finish your work for the day then take a break. Then start your 30-minute chunk of work. If you are inspired or motivated/energised to do more, then do more. I started 30 minutes of work last week and ended up working until 2am in the morning. I had an overflow of clarity and ran with it. Had I decided to work for 6 hours when I sat down at 8pm to start work, I would have been overwhelmed and probably not done anywhere near the amount of work I ended up doing. Try not to overwhelm yourself. It will probably take you longer than it normally would to do the groundwork, but as we know, these aren’t normal times. Revisit your vision regularly to help motivate yourself. Set small weekly goals instead of enormous ones that you know you won’t achieve. The aim is for forward progress, not speed.
Whilst it is important to be future-focused during this time, I would also like to stress the importance of self-care. We are all experiencing a stressful and traumatic situation. We are separated from our loved ones and our normal way of life has ceased until further notice. If you don’t feel motivated or inspired, this is understandable given the circumstances. We haven’t experienced a worldwide pandemic before, so it will take time to process and adjust. I urge you to not to be too hard on yourself, especially as you’re making the best of a situation that is completely out of your control. My motto is Think Big, Take Action, Keep Pushing. Now more than ever before this rings true. You need to think big in terms of your vision and your strategy for achieving it. You need to be motivated into taking regular action, even if in baby steps. Don’t give up on yourself. In order to get through this, we MUST Keep Pushing!
About: Daniella Genas is a multi-award winning strategy and innovation expert. Through her business, She’s The Boss International and her role as a Senior Business Advisor with Enterprise Europe Network, Daniella helps SME’s to transform their businesses. She has used her techniques, experience and training to generate significant results among the companies she has worked with. Key metrics include increased turnover and profits, increased staff, launch of new products/services and increased brand awareness, in a diverse range of sectors.
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