"Don't miss out on something that could be great just because it could also be difficult."
How well are you positioned to take advantage of the next 365 days?
To sort through that question, here's an outline for thinking about 2022.
In calculating risk our preference is to identify "assumptions" since they have to be updated less often than predictions.
Here are three to consider:
1. Even with vaccines and newer medicines, COVID-19 remains as a variant of interest (VOI) or variant of concern (VOC) like Delta and Omicron for another year. If the coronavirus moves from a pandemic (spread is exponential) to an endemic or flu-like status (consistently present in certain areas), how will that transition affect government policy, business practices, consumer behavior, and civil liberties?
2. It's costing more to live and operate a business. Energy costs continue climbing though gasoline declines for now. Food and major purchases such as housing, new and used vehicles are experiencing significant price increases. Returning to offices raises the cost of operating buildings (cleaning and air filtration systems). The poor and middle class are most directly impacted by price inflation. Flush with cash higher-income households are keeping segments of the economy going strong, especially real estate.
3. The hunt for talent heats up. Professional workers are gaining the upper hand when it comes to salaries and benefits. Work-from-home (WFH) is still up for grabs. Changes in compensation are squeezing small businesses and nonprofits with larger companies finding ways to adjust. Hiring the right people was challenging before the pandemic and has only gotten worse with Baby Boomer retirements in the past two years. In the U.S. more than 24 million people have left their jobs since April 2021. Most are still in the labor market but looking for greener pastures and less stress in their careers.
No matter the unemployment trends, good people (character, work ethic) are hard to find.
- It pays to think ahead. Incrementalism is influencing strategy as the private sector responds to changing consumer demands and government mandates. For the longer term, the discipline of thinking two steps ahead should find its way into thought processes and decision-making. Constantly reacting exacts an emotional toll. Those who are most likely to do well in 2022 have an idea where they want to be in 2023, 2024, and 2025--even if they can't know the details ahead of time. Those fighting for survival need to keep the future in mind. Struggling to stay alive is often motivated by a strong sense of livelihood and imagining what could be.
- Reduce the noise. Questionable values are vying the hardest for our attention. Too much of what's allowed in our minds is morally suspect. Media and technology capture and sell personal data offering little in return. Most of what we hear are loud and unpleasant noises. And the clamor is a nemesis to clarity. "Noise is the unwanted variability of judgments," writes Nobel prize-winning author, Daniel Kahneman and Olivier Sibony. Screens of all sizes are like thieves stealing our most valuable possession--time and the potential for improving what we do. How to fit moments of silence and reflection somewhere in busy lives. Why? To increase self-awareness, have greater discernment about people, and carefully consider the opportunities before us.
- Don't borrow trouble. That short phrase recalled by Grammarist is an idiom that means don’t worry about something before it's time to worry about it. The idea is that worrying doesn't solve anything, and we often worry about things that never happen. The editors say that this kind of worrying wastes time and energy and distracts from things that should command our attention today. Whenever possible, don't make an issue critical before it's time.
- Justified concerns need attention. Another incentive for not appropriating trouble is that it frees up time for scrutinizing and solving the more serious problems. Identifying and making these concerns a priority could save your business. Not responding promptly to real trouble endangers lives. As someone once observed, "Disasters are most often an accumulation of events." The fatal Space Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986 comes to mind.
- Courage triumphs over fear. Wisdom and courage make it possible to do something demanding--like running a business, college, medical practice, house of worship, or charity--in the middle of a pandemic. An important lesson about fear and courage comes from "The Wizard of Oz"--Don't be a victim of disorganized thinking, which is a principal source of fear. "You have plenty of courage, I am sure," answered Oz. "All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty."
So don't miss out on the good that 2022 has in store-difficult though the times may be.