It’s almost a year since COVID entered our day-to-day life. I seem to remember the first things we heard was news about things happening in China back in January. But did we know what lay before us?
I think at the end of January / start of February I had just got back from a week in France and was looking forward to a busy year with lots of goals…both business and personal. I had:
- Planned a charity marathon walk with my wife
- Was going to go to several festivals and make good use of my annual membership of the Leeds Playhouse
- A programme of taster events from my business owners’ mastermind group
Everything felt like it was good to go. Since then, my world, our world has changed dramatically. I won’t run over a chronology of last year, but I will share my thoughts as a husband, father and business owner.
It’s been an exhausting year to keep personal and business life going. There continues to be so much uncertainty, change and having to deal with different and extra responsibilities. In the run up to Christmas I was knackered, and I picked up a strong sense of complete exhaustion from the other business owners I know too. We just needed a rest.
Everybody I’ve spoken to recently had a smaller and quieter Christmas. Quite a few said it was actually better than expected…less pressure and no business to think about for a few days. It was just a chance to get off the COVID treadmill for long few days and enjoy being with close family.
Now we’re back into lockdown again. The weather is rubbish. Those days of summer walks seem ages ago. Despite the great news about the vaccine, it feels we have more tough months ahead. Restrictions are likely to continue for the rest of the year.
During the year I’ve picked up several trends or changes of emphasis from the business owners I talk to. Some also ring true for me.
Firstly, I think the pandemic and lockdown situation have made us reflect and think about what’s important in life.
Perhaps working in our businesses doesn’t need to take up as much of our time? We want to spend more time at home with our family and the people we love. All this talk of death everyday has reminded me that we should live for today.
Also, I think our definition of wealth has changed. Its not all about having a lot of money. The vast majority of SME business owners are motivated by independence. Not to build the next Google but to be in charge of their business. Freedom is the key word. That’s about having enough money to live life, spend time with family and pursue hobbies, charity work, etc. I sense less of us see wealth defined by achieving fixed amounts of assets and money.
I think Covid has brought a greater focus on having the Freedom that suits our lifestyle.
Finally, I think the pandemic has shown us the differences in people, especially in how they deal with great change and uncertainty. I feel my mental health has been reasonably okay so far, I can cope with being stuck at home and keep looking for the positive and things to be grateful about. Not always easy but worth the effort. Yet I know and hear of people who are struggling in many different ways for a whole load of reasons.
When we emerge from the pandemic, I think we will all be more understanding of other people’s needs. As business owners we need people to help us make our business work. We should revisit Stephen Covey’s 5th habit of successful people: Seek first to understand, then be understood.
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All I ask is that if any of my thoughts make you reflect, then share your thoughts with me. We aren’t alone and need to offer understanding to each other.