By Caroline Tremblay
Your Brain on Grief & Disbelief
For the first weeks of quarantine, there was a flurry of activity across EVERY social media platform, encouraging professionals to embrace this time. Learn a language! Reinvent your resume! Build your email list! (Admission: I totally got sucked into it. My inbox is currently piled high with reminders for things I signed-up for.)
But as the weeks have gone on, I think a lot of people, myself included, are experiencing the same thing—loss of focus. Experts say we are actually in a state of collective grief (or even trauma), trying to process what was vs. what is and anxiously predicting what will be.
Small businesses have been pivoting left and right to stay afloat. But in the last week, I’ve noticed many announcing at least a brief reprieve to give their teams rest and to create a strategy going forward. We are truly building this ship as it sails, and not one of us knows what our destination will look like.
What I find reassuring is permission to feel all the feels without guilt or shame. None of us has ever been here before, and the emotional effects are surprising. As I’ve checked in with clients, they’ve expressed crushing loneliness as they try to run things alone, total energy as they pour their thought into the positive, and absolute ambivalence as the hours of Netflix roll by. ALL of these are okay.
If you’re feeling guilty about not using this time to test new products or revamp your website, it’s okay. You don’t need to do anything except take one simple hour at a time. I’d like to propose a few fun (gentle) ways to nurture your business in the process.
Mood Board Mission
If you’ve been toying with the idea of refreshing your brand this spring, you don’t have to tackle the whole project all at once. The future is up in the air, but there’s still room to dream. One of the parts I enjoyed most about re-imagining the Owl & Pen brand for 2020 was honing the exact feel I wanted the business to have.
To accomplish that, I took a tip from a biz coach I know and went to one of my favorite faraway places…Pinterest 😍. My friend suggested I work up a mood board capturing language, images, and color palettes that resonated.
Sipping wine and curating that part of the project in the evenings was honestly the part of the process I enjoyed most. I’ve since returned to it as a way to gather ideas for upcoming Owl & Pen projects (yes, you should get excited!), as well as client proposals.
So maybe make a little room to dream and let yourself be drawn to what feels good/exciting. It’s a small but potent way to set your vision for the days ahead, whatever they may bring.
Reading Nook Permission
How long have you been ogling that book on your nightstand shelf? Each night, you’re too exhausted from your commute, the groceries, homework time, etc. Now, if your work allows you to primarily be at home, you may be finding spare moments. They come in a haze of fatigue and maybe even disinterest, but they nonetheless call to be filled.
Consider putting down the remote (just for the next hour) and curling up with that book. Though you might not feel the value now, you never know what creative idea or conversation it may spark down the road (when you’re allowed to chat over coffee, in-person again).
Connecting in Transition
Each time I talk to someone I know, I uncover new implications of the pandemic that had never occurred to me. Every story blows my mind as I find out the impossible challenges people are tackling and the innovative routes they’re taking.
I’m also amazed by how grateful I am to hear from folks I haven’t connected with in ages and how happy they are to hear from me. This is a great time to reconnect. Text your old boss to check in. Write a Facebook message to that small biz you love and tell them you miss their baristas or musicians or makers. Let a friend from school know you’re so thankful for the work they’re doing on the front lines.
Each connection now may make a ripple later, leading to a new project you never imagined or a dream client who is a friend of a friend. And even if nothing comes of it business-wise, you’ve supported your own well-being in the interim and brought light to someone else in these strange days.
Stay well and don’t forget to let a little fun in when the opportunity presents itself.