Is it just me or does the build-up to this Christmas feel much harder than usual? On a personal level there are a lot of emotions that I am wrestling with but this is more about the feeling that exists when I am talking to people, when I am out in the shops or when I am talking about the festive break. The cost of living crisis, war in Europe and climate crisis are on our minds. But even the World Cup has brought with it concern, controversy and crisis.
In a number of recent presentations that I have given there is a slide that I keep using and it has one word on it – chaos. We have become used pre-2020 to a world of relative consistency where we would be able to plan six, 12 and even five years ahead with a degree of certainty. Slight issues would emerge and disappear and yet we could see the long-term road ahead. Now I spend a lot of time encouraging people to plan for 12 to 18 months but be ready for things to derail that approach.
The key for 2023 and the way forward is going to be flexibility and being able to change and adapt to events. I nearly wrote unexpected events but even those events we plan for can become a problem due to external factors.
Covid-19 took a lot out of people, particularly those caught up in the communication that was required at the same time they were trying to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. So, it feels harsh to say that the approach to that crisis needs to become mainstreamed. Being ready to flex, adapt and change plans, is an essential skill. Being able to see the bumps in the road, and to effectively horizon scan are critical.
As communicators our major challenge is maintaining our own resilience and finding ways to help people find a way through the current crises. I can only see this increasing given the current issues that are being faced. So, what should we do?
- Recognise that things are hard and don’t expect too much from yourself, your team or your communication and remember this when you are working on projects and issues
- Take time away from the news and analysis of it when you are feeling overwhelmed
- Make plans that have back-ups, can accommodate changes and focus on a way forward rather than a fixed destination
- Know that nothing is perfect, including the festive season, and try to enjoy what you do have instead of looking for other things
- If you are feeling under pressure, low or in need of some help reach out and speak to people
On that last bullet point, I will be available for festive #thinkthroughbrew sessions throughout December. If you would like to chat through things now, how 2022 has been or what 2023 may be just get in touch.
We know that times are hard, and things are difficult, but this is when coming together and helping each other, as happened in the pandemic and at times of crisis, is important.