It’s certainly an interesting time to be alive. A global pandemic has swept across the globe and in doing so has shown a spotlight on inadequate leadership, ill-prepared infrastructures, fragile economies, the severity of the wealth divide and race-based inequality.
Big and very overdue change is afoot and it’s now integral to our survival that we pay attention and start thinking differently to be prepared for what comes next.
It’s fair to say that we will not be going back to what we previously called normality. And who really wants to? If anything, the current climate has shown us just how not normal, but rather totally dysfunctional, that normal had become.
But if we are shaping a new world, what will it look like and how will those of us in the creative industries survive and even thrive within it? My crystal ball isn’t working today and even if it were, I’m not equipped to make those calls, (and I wouldn’t trust anyone who says they are) but there are still things that every one of us, regardless of our trend forecasting skills, can do to learn from where we are now to prepare for what’s ahead.
This unprecedented moment in history is a great time to take pause, review and make some positive changes. Don’t miss this chance to ask yourself some big questions and learn from the answers, as the changes we make going forward don’t only need to be in response to the economy or other external factors. We also need to consider reprioritising our values and our approach to life in our new plans too.
Take stock of things as they were before lockdown. What was working for you and what part of that life caused you stress or unhappiness? Has being with your family been a blessing or a curse? Has the lack of commuting time or more long-distance travel for work been welcomed relief or a frustrating loss?
Once you’ve answered that, think about what, if any realisations you’ve had since lockdown. What have you been grateful for, never noticed before that drives you nuts or brings you joy? What have you come to appreciate or learned about yourself or your working style whilst home?
This information is important. It can shape the way you do things going forward. Have different things become important? Perhaps time with family or flexible working has improved your quality of life. Or maybe you’re not as sociable as you thought you were and removing the pressure of having to go out with friends or into the office has had a noticeable effect on your anxiety.
Whatever the findings are, note them down. Consciously consider your values and priorities. Focus on what this opportunity has afforded you and how you’ve benefited and work that into your plans for going forward and build from there.
It may not be as simple as never doing things that cause you stress, or if they are small fixes, it could be. Once you’ve identified your triggers or motivators, look at how over time you can adjust your working situation to accommodate or solve them. It may be a slow transition, but make a concerted effort to work toward achieving these goals.
Once you’ve got your priorities and preferred operating systems clear, look outward to discover what’s working beyond your front door. Never before has the whole world had to consider the same set of challenges and restrictions and adjust their ways of working to accommodate them. This rare moment has given way to some amazing dynamic pivots and creative solutions. This should inspire you.
Do some research and find solutions and creative responses that appeal to you. Think about how you can apply similar thinking to your business or practise to make it more viable, relevant, or attractive for you and your customer base. What other approaches or collaborations could you realise? Identify all the opportunities that the new world offers you and then weigh each one against your new set of values and priorities, as well as your bottom line to see which ones work best for you.
Then start testing your finalists. Do some experiments and pay attention to the evidence and what the results are telling you. Explore the gaps and find out if there are markets in them and if you’re ahead of the curve or if it’s a no go zone. It’s all too often overlooked, but doing research and testing the market now will pay dividends when you finally determine your next move and know that it’s based on more than a whim or desire, but on cold hard facts.
Relish the Restrictions
Often a blank page can be paralysing so we create restrictions for ourselves to operate within so that we understand our place and limit the boundlessness. The new world is presenting us with an interesting set of restrictions that many of us can thrive within if we are clever and willing. Change your mindset to see the restrictions as a roadmap or a guide and use them to positively inform your ideas going forward.
There are a lot of good things going on out there to consider in your plans going forward. The trends so far appear to include a slower pace of life with a more flexible balanced way of working. They show people prioritising their mental and physical health and appreciating what they have, as well as paying attention to the well-being of their community members. People are being more conscious than ever on almost every front. The lack of noise pollution and far less busy schedules have helped bring important issues to the forefront and people are actively paying attention and demanding positive change.
For businesses and practices, the good news is that the enforced working restrictions have taught us to work well remotely, which means time in the office may not be necessary going forward, there could be fewer overheads for your business and your talent pool is now greatly expanded as location is no longer an issue.
The demand for content and online events or classes is currently huge and people are willing to hunt down and pay for the good stuff. And again, there is no limit to where and how large your audience can be which could result in a pretty solid revenue stream if you crack the market.
All of these things, the trends, your new daily routine and the global impact of the pandemic, are lessons to consider and use to inform your next moves. A new world can, of course, be overwhelming and scary, and it can take unexpected twists, but it can also be exciting and full of opportunity for those who dare to take it.