During a Crisis, Focus On What You CAN DoWe’re all reeling from the effects of the current coronavirus pandemic, and a natural part of that reeling process is paralysis – an overwhelming feeling of “What the hell are we going to do in the face of this?”

This paralysis comes, in part, from a looming sense of uncertainty. None of us has any real idea of how thing are going to shake out over the next few months – or through the end of 2020 – and that uncertainty can make it hard to make real-time decisions. So much seems up in the air right now.

Dr. Sonia Lupien – founder and director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress, cites this “sense of low control” as one of the 4 ingredients to the recipe of stress that we feel about anything that concerns us. (Naomi talks further about the specific effects of this on your family on her blog as well.)

When we feel a sense of low control – and therefore stress – it can be very easy for that paralysis to start taking hold. And unfortunately, it can become a vicious cycle. We don’t act, so things stay stagnant, and we feel even less control, and it continues in a downward spiral.

To reverse this “sense of low control”, we can start acting on the things that we CAN do.

If we begin focusing on the things that we CAN do in our business (and our life as well), we can combat that sense of low control by reinforcing that there are a whole lot of things that are in our power.

This sounds a lot like The Serenity Prayer:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

There are so many things going on in the world that we don’t have control over. And perhaps, at no time in history has this been more clear.

But there’s a lot that you can do for your ittybiz, even in the face of economic trouble and a world that’s in a serious state of upheaval.

Many of your standard business activities may be off the table right now, but there are many that are still within your power to act on.

The more you act on those, the more of a sense of control you’ll have. And this is going to benefit you not only psychologically and emotionally, but financially as well.

Naomi often said, “Action is VERY good for business.” So we can put ourselves in a better position by taking the actions that we still have available in the midst of this pandemic.

It’s critical for all of us to draw a thick line between what we can’t do and what we can do.

You already know that there are some big things you can’t do in your business at the moment. Live events, for one. Flashy launches, for another. Even positive and upbeat content? For many people, that’s going to fall into the “too soon” category.

But our brains like to make generalizations about things, because it’s more neurologically efficient. And so if we can identify a dozen “business” activities we can’t do right now, those neurons are going to want to come to the conclusion that we can’t do “business”.

However, the number of business activities that you can engage in is much higher than you may realize right now. You just have to step back, look at your business, and identify them.

So while everything is in flux, you can put yourself in a stronger space by clearly defining what you can’t do and what you can do. (Bonus points for making a physical list of business activities that are still do-able right now that you can refer to every day.)

There’s a lot you CAN do in this space of business “downtime”.

You can set yourself up for a stronger business in the future by taking actions that build up the foundations of your business itself. You may not be able to do immediate-revenue-generating activities as much as you want, but there’s still a lot that can bring your business tangible value.

Some examples:

  • Nurture your contacts – whether on social media or email or video calls, now is an ideal time to talk to people and strengthen your connections. (Or make new ones.) Even a few points of contact per day add up.
  • Work on your business’ backend – Improve your website. Update your copy. Improve your welcome emails. All the fiddly bits of that rebrand-in-progress you’ve been working on. These are the little things (or big things) that you were always too busy to do before.
  • Improve things that were already working before – You know how when you linked to other posts within a piece of content, your traffic improved? Do more of stuff like that.
  • Do projects that don’t require creativity – Maybe right now creative work like making content is out of reach for you. So find less creative projects that impact your business, like organizing your project files, proofreading your content, or creating that spreadsheet of blog posts or contacts.
  • Create “backlist” content – If you still need to put out content but can’t come up with anything new right now, you can create roundup posts of 5 or more older articles that your audience may still find of interest right now.
  • Learn a relevant skill. If you were always planning on going through Canva’s free Design School tutorials so you could make your own images, now’s the time.

You can’t always improve the “now”, but you can set yourself up for a better future.

Invest your time and attention in things that Future You will be really glad you did. (That is often best described as “things Past You was avoiding”. )

One way or another, this time of flux will eventually be over.

When that time comes, you’ll be at your strongest if you keep busy now. And your sense of low control will start being replaced with a sense of empowerment and confidence in between now and then.

Keep yourself busy with useful, relevant activities for your business.

Keep training your brain to focus on what you CAN do.

That’s the way forward.

You can do this. :)

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