How is your 2021 so far?
I read the First rule of 2021 is not to dwell on what went wrong in 2020. I’m always up for reflection, journaling and review – but I’m finding bitching about 2020 is a full-time job for some people.
I wrote a lot over December, but it was confusing and weird, which would be fine if I was Lady Gaga or Andy Warhol writing to you but, well you know.
Something I found out over the holidays was I needed to stop.
But at the same time I could not wait to get back to work.
This blog post captures the feeling well: “I Love Time Off, But This Holiday Break Hit Different.
Being reunited with work has never felt so good!” By ‘The Only Black Guy in The Office’.
Dazed and confused
Supercoolwife and I walked around ‘dazed and confused’ for the first week of the holidays.
We did some serious tidying up to ‘cleanse’ our home for the new year, and by the time it was ready to start again, we felt prepared to rejoin humanity.
But I could not work out what was going on.
Is change confusing to you? I thought it was just me.
In preparation for our next ’12 Weeks’ that started January 4th, I read the whole ‘12 Week Year‘ book, again.
Every time I go back to it, I hear a new thing or go more in-depth on something I’ve heard before.
So for most of December, I was walking around holding onto a small, but a never-ending panic attack.
My idea for December was to finish strong and then rest, but my head would not stop.
And there in the middle of the ’12 Week Year’, as always has been, is the ‘Emotional Cycle of Change‘ (ECOC) as I read this chapter, I could see why I was feeling like a newspaper caught in a wind tunnel.
You can read the whole thing here.
What ECOC spells out are the emotions we go through as we change or the environment around us changes.
So, 2020 was several layers of change shot from a rocket launcher all at the same time at us all.
Then we get down to the personal changes that were going from ‘marketing consultant’ to running a company and building a team.
Of course, my change is a truly fortunate one, but it did unsettle me.
I am so used to waking up and thinking like a freelancer on my own that I felt like I had had a leg amputated.
Dustin Carter is a wrestler who, when he was eight, had to have his arms and legs amputated to save his life.
His story is in the ’12 Week Year’, and every time I hear it, knocking me quickly back into place.
And one of the reasons I did not publish over December was because most of what I wrote was, ‘ever so slightly whiny’.
This week I have had a lot of ‘how was your holiday’ talks, and the feeling is exhaustion and disbelief at how hard 2020 was on humanity.
Hearing this from other people, makes me feel a little more normal. Because again, I am thinking it is just me.
Back to the words
So I wrote a lot over the holidays and I boiled the last ten pages down to this, as the holidays unfolded my mental state flipped back and forth.
Like my mate David Sandler says, ‘he’s got one foot in the fire and one foot in the ice box!’
Apart from the global pandemic going on around us all life and work have never been so good.
And you see that last line is the one I am uncomfortable saying aloud.
Because I can pick up the phone and call at least ten people whose careers are in a shit storm right now, and they are at the end of the mental rope.
Or their work-life is so intense and impossible they’re on the brink of exploding, the uncertainty is exhausting.
Some of these people have several members in their family in different hospitals in a critical conditions.
We need a different kind of energy for 2021
Reading about ‘where our heads are now’ in an article by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg, where she points out that when everything hits in March 2020 our adrenaline will kick in, but now it’s boring.
Ok, there is a little more to it than that, I recommend reading the full article here.
After I read Merete’s words it all made sense.
Back in March 2020, I’m feeling energetic.
As scary and uncertain as everything there was, well there’s an energy about it all.
In the London Coworking Assembly we had two call a week with 20 – 40 people from the coworking industry in London.
Between those calls we’d be looking for people to answer questions, sort out business rates, get a leader from the Mayor’s office to come and share what the situation was.
Then the energy died at the end of August and early September.
We nearly got going again somewhere in October, but now I feel like falling asleep standing up.
Which I won’t do – don’t worry.
Energy for the next three months.
I’ve been in this cycle before, wanting to fall asleep or watch Netflix until it is all over.
And what I’ve learnt is something like it is NEVER over.
When you cook, you must clean the kitchen, and then you cook again and clean the kitchen, yet again.
My head is in the next 12 weeks. And knowing that book so well has saved my life during COVID, knowing the Emotional Cycle of Change’ (ECOC).
Being able to realize that I feel odd because I’m going through 12 cycles of change all at the same time calms me down – a lot.
The article by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg affirms that planning the next 12 Weeks and keeping to routines and accepting the boringness is an opportunity to build a solid foundation to spring from when things get back to normal.
WTF do you mean ‘back to normal?’
Did I say ‘back to normal?
Sorry I was sleepwalking.
Early on, people are saying things like ‘when this is over, we’ll get back to normal’. My mate Jeannine would come back with, we won’t get back to normal, life will never be the same again.
She points out what AIDS did to the way we talk, conduct relationships and run hospitals.
I read a book, On Writing by Stephen King this week. And he spoke about when he worked in an industrial laundrette.
Tablecloths from restaurants caked in food would come in. And sheets from the hospital are covered in blood, he mentions he would push them all in the washer with his bare hands as people were not worried about blood in those days like they are now.
In her article Merete points out we’re in the second wave now and things have changed forever.
Pay attention to your energy
We’re tired, and we need a different kind of energy to keep going, there is waiting. Merete talks about how when you are in the armed forces often waiting for the battle is more stressful than the actual fight.
The boredom and fatigue kicks in and our spirits flatten.
But I walked around my home for two hours in my running gear the other day before I went out.
Crazy – I know!
I am making myself go, even if I go out and end up walking it is better than sitting on the sofa waiting for a zap of energy so I transform from beached whale to Usain Bolt.
It does not happen.
So, it is a struggle.
I have never got back from a run and wish I didn’t go, even if a car runs me over.
But I have a power pack – all around me are excellent and self-aware people.
Every day I wake up, and I start to read, meditate, and write.
I am adding running to that now too.
If the primary daily battle is getting dressed and running around the lake, the rest of the day will work fine.