I was recently asked to write an article on how small businesses are faring as the COVID pandemic stretches on even further into 2020.
My initial idea was to come up with a piece that highlights some of the most inspiring and innovative ideas from both individuals and businesses during these challenging times that have not only saved them from financial ruin, but in fact brought them great success.
Then I started to think more about the real human side and the human cost of a situation that none of us asked for, none of us caused, and none of us are responsible for, yet we’re all suffering as a result of it.
That’s when I realised that painting a ‘rainbows and unicorns’ picture of all these fantastic successes that only a select few are achieving isn’t going to be particularly helpful or motivational for so many of the people that are really hurting right now.
All these terms like ‘pivoting’ and ‘innovating’ don’t mean a lot when you’ve suddenly found yourself without an income and struggling to put food on the table for the first time in 20 years.
I’ve spoken with a lot of these people during 2020, and that’s why it didn’t feel right to cheapen their struggle in any way by somehow giving the impression that they’ve failed, or that they’re only in the situation that they’re in because they didn’t do x, y or z.
The last thing anyone needs right now is a guilt trip.
The truth is that it breaks my heart. It really breaks my heart to see so many good, smart and hard-working people that have built a fantastic business or career through years of grit and determination have it all come crashing down overnight.
For anybody that is reading this and identifies with the above, I want you to know that you’re not alone. When I say this, it is as no token gesture like ‘we’re all in this together’. I say it because myself, along with many others have been there before.
I know how it feels.
I’ve experienced the stresses, the guilt, the frustration and the feelings of hopelessness that all come with sudden (and sometimes prolonged) unemployment.
This is in no way intended to belittle anyone’s opinion, but I don’t think you can truly appreciate how it actually feels unless you’ve been there yourself. After a while, you realise that you can’t just shake off these feelings, you cannot ignore the negatives and just focus on the positives. The effect it has on your entire psyche sometimes just cripples you, and quite simply doesn’t allow you to do what you want to do, even though you know what you should be doing.
I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve hit rock bottom in the past. 2012 and 2014 were both incredibly difficult years for me, and it took me a long time to fully recover.
When I look back on those times now through clear eyes and a clear mind, I barely recognise that person, and I wonder why they didn’t make the right decisions to get their life back on track sooner.
But, then I realised that when you’re in the middle of a situation like this and feeling all the different pressures that are associated with it, you’re not yourself. And, sometimes you’re just not capable of making the decisions and taking the actions that at the time you know you should be.
If I can offer just one little bit of advice here it is that it’s ok to be feeling like you’re feeling. It’s completely understandable and completely justifiable.
If you can give yourself permission to feel that it’s ok to not be feeling ok, then you’re going to be ok (if that makes any sense?).
Everybody’s situation is different, and everybody approaches these things differently. As long as you don’t get too caught up in how you think you ‘should’ be feeling (be careful of falling into the ‘should trap’. It can eat you up inside) and instead focus on and accept how you ‘are’ feeling, then in my opinion you’re putting yourself on the right track to get through this.
I’m not a councillor or a psychologist or anything like that. I’m just a guy that’s been there and has a genuine empathy towards anyone that’s going through a similar situation.
If what I’ve written here has provided even just a little guidance or encouragement to at least one person out there that’s doing it tough at the moment, then I feel that I’ve achieved something.
For anyone that ever wants to chat, my door’s always open.
I always love to receive feedback (positive or constructive) on this or any of my posts. Feel free to contact me at any time.