It’s the end of January, just four weeks into the new year, and I get a sense that people feel like they are eddying and going nowhere slowly. I have experienced moments of this myself, feeling like I have one foot still in 2022 and the other in 2023. Have you had the same neither here nor there feeling? Even Forbes alluded to people feeling overwhelmed by a new year.
I ascribe this ‘greyness’ to some of the issues I’ve listed below. If they resonate for you, create a mental tick next to them, or print out this blog and scribble all over it (my preference):
- Still feeling exhausted from 2.5 years of Covid trauma that is unresolved:
- This trauma went on for a long time. It essentially changed our wiring and went deeper than you might think. If you don’t deal with your trauma, or avoid working through it to diffuse its power, you will still be emotionally triggered at the slightest thing.
- It was also mass trauma and when most people have not processed and healed from trauma it persists in groups (I see this in just about all of my clients in the coporate and education sectors — it’s a big thing!).
- Being fearful of another pandemic hitting:
- I have to say that the thought of wearing masks again and having lockdowns definitely sends shivers down my spine. It’s an overwhelming thought and a little like anticipating the death of one of your parents; not knowing whether it will happen tomorrow or in 10 or 20 years time.
- You can’t let that fear rule your life. You must live for today and know that you have survived tough times of all kinds before and you will deal with it if, and when, it happens, trusting that you will put your well-earned life experience to work for you in that moment.
- Still feeling like a victim who is being repeatedly punished/persecuted in different ways by outside forces beyond your control:
- Think the impact of loadshedding in South Africa that can feel like psychological torture and manipulation.
- Think the knock-on effect on supply chains and price increases due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
- Think developmental delays you are dealing with in your young children due to the pandemic (these are very real, I hear about them every day).
- Think how so many people (adults and children alike) are still avoiding socialising which is exacerbating the pandemic of low social confidence and high social awkwardness that I wrote about late last year.
- Feeling unconfident in yourself, your country’s leadership and the future:
- This applies anywhere in the world right now.
- There are red flags in every country (Clem Sunter’s term). You need to pick your poison.
- The wellbeing and mental health pendulum that has swung to such an extreme in the past 2.5 years that now everyone thinks that all stress must be avoided at all costs, which is not true:
- I am thrilled with the increased level of awareness around mental wellbeing, improved work-life integration and creating psychological safety at work, home and school.
- I am not happy that people no longer understand the difference between positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress).
- You absolutely need enough pressure and tension in your ‘system’, or your being, to perform and deliver. Without sufficient pressure and tension, you will feel flat and unable to wind yourself up. Many teams find themselves in this position right now.
- Feeling out of control
- We love to feel we are in total control of our lives, but it is just an illusion.
- Your power doesn’t lie in controlling every circumstance, it lies in the choices you make in each and every moment.
- This is not an exhaustive list and I am sure there are more you can add that are specific to you. Do add them to give yourself a clear picture of where you find yourself and why you may be feeling overwhelmed by the new year.
The cheese has moved: have you?
In the past couple of years, we have all experienced change and disruption, often imposed by external forces, and not by choice. A useful analogy is that the cheese has moved. If this is so, we need to move with the cheese or look for new cheese to avoid getting stuck wishing for things to go back to normal. Insisting on getting your old cheese back can be futile and will just lead to frustration, especially if the people concerned, or powers that be, don’t want to give it to you, have stolen it, or hidden it away.
The cheese analogy comes from the bestselling book, Who Moved My Cheese?, by Dr Spencer Johnson. It’s one of my all-time favourite leadership books. Published in 1998, Dr Johnson’s teachings are even more relevant to our situation today, worldwide, as they were then. Are you going to become a victim of circumstance, or will you take back your power?
Avoid victimhood before it sabotages you
I truly believe that human beings are built for change. However, to thrive, we must consciously activate this wiring to avoid victimhood, which has the power to sabotage us if we let it.
I have found you a short animated video of Who Moved My Cheese. While the quality of the visuals (from about 20 years ago) is not great, and is better watched on a smaller screen than a bigger one, it is well worth watching!
How to use it:
- Absorb the message and the wisdom enacted by two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two little men, Hem and Haw as they deal with the shock horror of the missing cheese that is their lifeline. What will they do?
- After you have watched it, do ask yourself these questions:
- Which character represents you most closely?
- What is the old cheese in your life you need to let go of?
- What cheese has been moved in your life?
- Who has moved your cheese?
- Can you get the cheese back, if so, how?
- If you can’t get the old cheese back, what new cheese do you need to look for?
- What action do you need to take to find or make new cheese?
Does your team, staff or organisation need to look for new cheese?
If your team feeling overwhelmed by the new year? If they are stuck trying to find old cheese and not looking for new cheese, drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s start a conversation. It’s time to reset, reconnect and reignite in the face of change, so that your organisation can thrive in 2023.
Nikki Bush, Human Potential and Parenting Expert
“Nikki brought such energy, context and humanity into our session. She is an incredible speaker who exudes empathy and authenticity. She inspired our team to reconnect and reframe. It was such a necessary session for us and she gave us all the gift of each other again.”
Veruschka De Wet, Head Credit IB&TS, Nedbank
“The energy was electric. The combination of boisterous and fast-paced activities to quieter more reflective ones in your session From Delivery to Impact, took us on a journey that bonded us and built trust, while helping us to look deeply within ourselves. You took us from the big picture to the personal, setting the tone for the rest of the year.”
Dineo Sesoko, Journey Lead, Absa Voice & CRM, Channel Infrastructure and Change
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