Why, hello there, Fall! So great to see you, although I’m trying to figure out how you are here already! I cannot believe we’ve been dealing with COVID-19 for over six months now! 2020 is the oddest year where time feels like it’s standing still, yet flying by at the same time! I remember the first week of COVID closures when the restaurants and bars were forced to close down. That week seemed to take FOREVER as we were all glued to the news sources to see what other restrictions were coming down the pipeline. Before we knew it, schools were closed for two weeks, then four weeks, then for the rest of the school year. Other businesses were forced to shutter, and mask mandates were put into place. Never in a million years did I think we’d still be trying to figure out “the new norm” 6 months later! One thing COVID has done for me is given me time to do some self-reflection, and today I wanted to share with you 5 things I learned from COVID-19.
1) Don’t take things for granted!
It’s incredible all the things we take for granted, from super simple things like being able to hang out with friends and family on the weekend or going places without a mask on, to way more complicated things like your health (both physical and mental!). When my business was forced to shut down for two months, I realized how vital having purpose in your life was! While it was nice to catch up on items that had been on my to-do list forever, after a couple of weeks, I began to feel lost. I also never realized how much traveling kept me sane until I couldn’t do it anymore. When you suddenly aren’t able to do the things that you love, and that feed your soul, you realize how important they are to your well-being. COVID taught me to pay more attention to things in life and think about what would happen if suddenly those people or things were gone. It also taught me how fragile our economy is and how important it is to not just talk about supporting local businesses but to ACTUALLY support them! Otherwise one day they might be gone too.
2) Don’t put off until tomorrow what you could (and should) do today!
COVID taught me that things could change in an instant! I remember hearing the words “Stay at Home Order” and going into a panic thinking about all the things I needed to do before businesses were forced to close their doors. I remember watching my printing labs start closing down one by one, some giving us a week’s notice, others closing instantly. I was frantically retouching orders to get them sent off to printing, hoping the lab would get them completed before their closure went into effect since no one knew when they would reopen. COVID taught me the value of staying on top of my work and completing things quickly. It also taught me to keep supplies on hand because you never know when the shelves will be empty (hello, toilet paper and cleaning supply shortages!). I learned that kicking the can down the road can be a dangerous game to play!
3) It’s ok to not have all the answers.
Honestly, this is one I still struggle with, but I’m working on improving on every day! I am the type of person who likes having ALL the information and being informed before deciding. COVID taught me that there are some things you just can’t predict, and trying to do so will cause you to go insane! I remember reading all the information on what state rules and regulations were being put in place and attending countless webinars about the different stimulus and business financial aid programs. I felt like I needed to know EVERYTHING before I could make a decision, but once I started getting a grasp on the information, it would all change, and I’d be back to square one. Analysis paralysis is a real thing! COVID taught me that it’s ok not to have all the answers, that sometimes all you can do is take the information you have, make an informed decision, and take a step forward. You can always change course as you go.
4) Don’t stress about the things you have zero control over.
This one is also a struggle for me some days. COVID taught me that sometimes things are entirely out of your control, and stressing over them doesn’t do any good! The first couple of months of the shutdown, I stressed out a lot with being forced to halt my business. I stressed about “what happens if…” and would run all kinds of scenarios through my mind. I’d find myself scrolling social media all the time and getting stressed out about what was happening all over the world. Then one day, I finally realized that stressing over all the things that were out of my control was a waste of time and just making me physically and mentally exhausted. Why waste time and energy on things I cannot control? Instead, I started focusing on things I COULD change like organizing my business, so I was ready to hit the ground running when I was finally allowed. COVID taught me that things don’t always go as planned, And while it’s easy to stress over “how things should have been,” it’s better to have a plan A, B, C, and D and ready to work them if need be.
5) It’s totally ok (and necessary) to slow down!
I think one of the BEST things that has come out of COVID is forcing people to slow down. While having to close your business for two months is less than ideal, it gave me the great gift of being forced to slow down. 2020 marks my 11th year of owning my own business and when I first started, it was very cyclical with jam-packed summers and falls, but then slower winter and spring months. However, in the past five years, I found myself steadily busy year-round. I remember saying things like, “oh, I’ll get to that in the slow season,” and my fiancé pointing out that I didn’t have slow seasons anymore. While that’s a wonderful problem to have from a business standpoint, it does take a toll on you, your health, and your relationships. The moment I was forced to slow down, I could feel a weight taken off my shoulders. I finally felt like I wasn’t frantically treading water to stay afloat. It’s amazing what happens when you slow down – I could think more clearly, I slept better, I connected with people on a different level, and I learned that I do have some hobbies outside of running a business! When things started opening back up, I vowed to myself that I needed to not fall back into the rat race. I put things in place to allow me to run my business more efficiently and give me a better work/life balance. It truly is amazing what can happen when you take a moment to slow down and regroup!
What lessons did you learn from COVID? Share them in the comments below!