How to accept and navigate the “new normal.”
Updated: Jan 21
On February 26, 2020, I celebrated my 60th birthday by inviting my closest friends and associates to join me for an evening filled with laughter, optimism, and hope. An amazing poetry writer spoke privately with all guests and wrote each a personalized poem. It was my gift to my friends. A gift that was meant to be personal and lasting. In spending time with my friends, they all shared their hopes and visions of the future. Everyone was bright-eyed and excited about the amazing year that was poised ahead.
Less than two weeks later the first of countless set-backs took place as the nation was asked to stay home in an effort to slow the curve of the pandemic. We were asked to stay home for three weeks so as not to overwhelm the hospitals.
Our enthusiasm for an amazing year ahead was not stifled by this effort. Opening day of Astoria Sunday Market and the cruise ship season in May was still months away. Surely this will all be over by opening day.
The year of hope and optimism gave way to despair as week after week (sometimes day by day) business models changed as we all coped with the unending mandates doled out by our state’s leaders in their efforts to slow down the virus. We all had to be nimble in how we did business. People became divided with some threatening those who struggled to safely stay open. Some businesses and consumers alike made threats, demanded closures, and launched personal attacks. Other businesses and consumers supported any efforts to open up the economy and allow others to shop safely.
Our artists, makers and farmers watched their livelihoods slip through their hands as event after event was cancelled and restaurants shuttered.
But surely, this would all end. 2021 will bring a new year and renewed optimism.
Here we are. It is the first month of the new year. Vaccines are being distributed. Hope should be proliferating. Yet, business closures and new mandates seem to be expanding, not shrinking.
Some leaders are acknowledging the future will embrace a new normal. The nation will unlikely go back to the carefree days of crowds, full bars, and naked smiling faces. At least, not in the near future. New strains of the virus are emerging and even if the economy is opened up, consumers may no longer have the desire to return to activities that force close contact with others such as concerts, consumers shows, festivals, and even holiday shopping at the malls.
So, what does a small business or artist do?
Step I: Acknowledge that we are living a new normal for the near and possibly far future. If a business doesn’t embrace this notion, they will forever remain in a crisis mode until “this is over.” Preparing for a future of a new business model ensures you will thrive instead of tread water.
Step II: Take stock of your emotional health. Your business won’t thrive if you are not thriving emotionally. It is easy to wallow in what was lost this past year and it is OK to acknowledge those losses. But one must also take stock of the positive strides that took place. Focus on the positive changes you've embraced. It will be the starting point for a positive future.
Step III: 2020 was a year many of us operated in crisis mode the entire time. 2021 needs to be the year where businesses and individual artists re-evaluate what worked and what didn’t in 2020. Some changes may have worked so well they will become a permanent part of your future. Take stock of the old way of doing business and see if some things need to be abandoned entirely.
Step IV: New skills. 2021 may be a year where you learn new skills to thrive. As a nation, new technology, social media, online banking, video streaming and other digital products were already changing how we do business. The pandemic simply sped-up the process. Zoom meetings were slow to take hold, but the pandemic has made video meetings, classrooms, conferences, concerts and even festivals the new normal. In fact, even when restrictions lift and people are allowed to gather again for activities, Zoom and similar technology will likely continue.
Step V: We are here.
Personally, my life changed dramatically. I went from living in a house I loved, in a town I loved, employed by jobs I loved, to living in a 5th wheel in the middle of a muddy field on my father’s farm. It wasn’t the pandemic that brought me here, but my father’s health. Even so, the pandemic made my final season with Astoria Sunday Market and the Clatsop Cruise Hosts difficult and defeating. It was not how I wanted to end my thirteen-year career with the market.
Most of my friends and associates navigated similar changes -- some worse and some better than others.
It has been painful watching businesses close; friends become unemployed; and others yo-yoing between employment and unemployment as business mandates fluctuate.
But we are here.
References & Links
Leyes, Kevin (August 11, 2020). The New Normal For Business And Marketing. Forbes Magazine retrieved from
Mudge Media Blog, Creatively Quarantined
Mudge Media Blog, Mission Possible
Mudge Media, Pandemic Career Options