Here we are, 11 months into the pandemic (at least in terms of the US shutting down), and we are still not certain when or even IF life will get back to “the way it used to be.” So, it’s time to assess: what “bad” habits did we drop last year which should be left in the past, and what “new” habits did we pick up that we want to keep? It’s time to “plow the ground for the future” and fully embrace the work ahead with the “Year of the Ox!”
Lucky for us the Ox carries some excellent advice about how to approach what could still be a challenging year, even after last year’s trials and tribulations. The Ox is a symbol of strength, focus, and determination. It promises prosperity through hard work and sustained effort. It is an animal that works in teams and nourishes the community in which it lives. So, what does the Ox suggest for 2021?
- Invest in relationships – take time out for people.
- Last year, we were forced to quarantine and seclude ourselves. We also learned how to connect over distances using technology such as Zoom and Google Hangouts. Now is NOT the time to let these connections lapse!
- This is known as a “Metal Ox” year, which tells us a focus on interpersonal relationships is essential. As it becomes safe to do so, find ways to see each other IN PERSON (a novel concept!), while still socially distancing, of course. And in the meantime, keep using technology to build and maintain your connections.
- Take the lesson to heart from 2020 about slowing down to focus on people in your work. Even as we “get used to” this new reality, there is still a need to care for your organization’s people, and celebrate those who have helped your organization and team still exist to this point!
- Remember to practice self-care – your continued success depends on it.
- Keep a positive attitude and please get help if you feel down.
- Don’t let the stubbornness of the Ox get the best of you! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as business resumes and our world speeds up again – you’re not alone in this. Speak up when you need a break, even if it’s just a few hours.
- This is set up to be a busy year, as we all recover from 2020. Celebrate increases in success, but be sure to balance it out with your own self-care (and the good habits you hopefully built for yourself last year!).
- Work hard on your goals, and remember to bring others along – because that’s what it will take.
- Many of us are ready for action after such a stagnant period, and have been building our vision of the opportunities for 2021. Persistence and patience as you push through barriers and work toward your goals.
- YOU may have a vision and goals for the future – but have you shared those with your team? The true success of the ox comes from the success of the team!
- As much as the hard work of the Ox is a gift, it can also be a challenge. You may find that stubbornness getting in the way of sharing new ideas and utilizing innovative techniques.
- Focus – on the future.
- Don’t make the mistake of making only short-term decisions to conserve your resources (the turtle approach). If there’s any time to focus on planning for the future, it’s now!
- Now is the time to invest in assessing your culture, determining how is has been changed by the pandemic, and deciding what you want to keep for the future.
Invariably, there will be those who prosper in the year ahead. Remember the Chinese saying, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.”
Catherine M. (Cathy) Perme is a partner at Perme & Peterson Associates, LLC.