Hey, event pros, 2021 is just around the corner, and you’re probably as excited as I am about a fresh start. But before the year ends and a fresh start begins, embrace the downtime.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “downtime can dramatically improve mental and physical health and our personal relationships.”
Event professionals are prone to pushing themselves through stress, physical strain, and crushing workloads, all in the name of getting it done. Event checklists across multiple events pile up as new bookings overlap with active events, plus the fact that events happen on the weekend, means less downtime for you than for most others.
The Strain Of 2020 On Event Professionals
And that doesn’t even begin to take the stomach twisting stress of 2020 regulations having wiped out much of the event industry. Even if events were on hold, event pros were frantically rescheduling, renegotiating, and relearning. It’s been a wild ride.
I mean, we launched our event planning software about one week before the shutdowns began. And we were right there with everyone else in the event industry in thinking it’d be days or weeks. And as the months dragged on, we felt every bit of the stress too.
And that’s why our team is taking some downtime before 2021 begins.
Finding Control When No One Knows What 2021 Will Bring
It’s become a meme, or even something of a mantra, that 2021 offers a fresh start. But no one knows for sure what 2021 will bring. While we don’t know whether authorities will lift restrictions or whether vaccines herald a return to the “old normal,” there are some aspects of the event industry we do know.
We know that venture capital has heavily invested in virtual events and hybrid events. And that means that they’ll stick around, even as live events return. Bizzabo’s investors are pouring $138 million into hybrid events, while Airmeet, Hopin, and others have raised substantial amounts of cash.
We know that 2021 will be a busy year as people who delayed their events will seek to reschedule.
We know that 2021 will have ups and downs and will offer new opportunities for event professionals who are willing to learn new skills and think more about event production as part of their planning.
And while we might not know how people and governments will react to the catastrophe du jour, we can make better plans when we focus on what we do know.
Take Downtime Before Learning Something New in 2021
With all this stuff we do know, or at least can be confident in, it’s essential to think about, plan for, and come to terms with the changes. And, having done that, you’ll feel freshly motivated for 2021.
Knowing that hybrid events will be a thing, you can decide to learn about the various virtual event platforms out there. You can explore set design for streamed events or revisit sponsorship packages for digital conferences. You can look into continuing education classes that help you adjust to new client expectations.
Beyond merely feeling motivated or picking up a new skill, I recommend the downtime because it offers control. You’re going to give yourself a sense of confidence because you’re taking charge when everything around you is uncertain. And that’s one of the most incredible traits of event professionals.
Uncertainty Messes With Your Head
According to Psychology Today, “if your brain doesn’t know what’s around the corner, it can’t keep you out of harm’s way. It always assumes the worst, over-personalizes threats, and jumps to conclusions.”
Uncertainty causes stress, and it’s a natural response. Your brain is trying to freak you out and thus spur you to get to safety. So you assume the worst, worry and catastrophize, and utterly wreck your sense of stability. And it’s all because you’re trying to find safety.
But when you accept some degree of certainty, even if the outcome is negative, you’ll find yourself naturally calmer.
Waiting for certainty can feel like torture by a million tiny cuts. Sometimes the brain prefers to know an outcome one way or another to take the edge off. Studies show that you’re calmer anticipating pain than anticipating uncertainty because pain is certain.Psychology Today
Ignore Predictions – They’re Mostly Wrong Anyway
The thing about predictions is that no one actually knows what will happen. And yet we find ourselves getting worked up over things we can’t control anyway, even if they turn out to be true. Nate Silver’s book, The Signal and the Noise, points out that there’s so much data that finding the “useful” information is quite tricky. Even for the experts.
And when it comes to politics, Silver says, “We found that almost exactly half of the predictions were right, and almost exactly half were wrong, meaning if you’d just flipped a coin instead of listening to these guys and girls, you would have done just as well.”
But predictions help us feel better, as we’ve learned above. So what do you do?
Staying Focused Despite Uncertainty
Medical experts have a lot of good advice when it comes to maintaining mental health in a crisis. The problem is that much of it is easier said than done. Tips like “stay positive” are too vague to be useful because there’s little practical action behind them. However, one suggestion from Fraser Health resonates with me: embrace change.
And that’s why I recommend learning something new. It’s a physical and mental embracing of change. It’s a way to take control over uncertainty. The best part is you walk away with a new skill to apply when growing your business in 2021.
Reset Your Outlook And Commit To Your Business Despite Uncertainty
Choosing to take the downtime allows you to choose peace. There’s very little you can do to change the craziness of 2021, but you can change how you spend the holiday season.
Instead of hoping, wishing, and guessing what the future may bring, commit to positive actions you can control. And I mean committing to taking steps that grow your business.
Or maybe you’ll spend January working on styled shoots or blogging more or even simply uploading new images to your listings on WeddingWire. Whatever it is, you can cope with uncertainty by deciding to act on small yet highly beneficial things.
But take the downtime to think about what you’d like to do, even if you’re not sure what the right thing to do is.
Being Productive In Small Ways Adds Up
I’m a big believer in small wins. Whether it’s re-organizing your desk or some random 5-minute marketing idea like a new Instagram post, these little productivity actions add to a positive outlook.
This holiday season, why not take some time to think about little things you wish you did more of. And while the world moves ahead with their big reset, or whether nothing much changes at all, at least you’ll have accomplished something.
Reflect And Rebuild During Downtime
I live in a place that saw three very stringent lockdowns. I lost a lot of healthy habits because of it. I’m using this time between now and the new year to reflect on what I allowed to change and what practices I’d like to rebuild. Maybe you’ll join me.
Reflecting on the best parts of the past year and even the year before will help set up new useful things for the year to come. Remind yourself of what is worthwhile in your life. I bet there’s plenty.
Use The Downtime To Rejuvenate
Medical professionals recommend downtime for its restorative effects. You’ll rejuvenate your life when you make space for naps. And while you can’t go anywhere for a vacation, you can still enforce downtime at home by laying on the couch and snoozing. Sleep more, take breaks, and chill. You’ll enter the new year braced for success.
Downtime Is Part Of The Process
Rebuilding after a year like 2020 will be a slow process, even if your work comes roaring back once events are allowed. The strain on everyone has taken a toll, and it’ll take time to heal financially and mentally.
Downtime is part of that healing. Take a break, relax, and give yourself the appreciation you deserve. You’re going to have a fantastic 2021.