If there’s any truth to the idea that it takes thirty days to create a new habit, what happens after a year of doing things in radically different ways? I think it’s safe to say that there will be a period of readjustment. As things begin to open up and more and more people feel empowered by immunization what is going to happen to the ways we have changed? Will things go back to as they were before? How will that work?
Questioning is the modus operandi of analysis. Analysis aims at an understanding and a description of a complex process. In order to make sense of the transition from a period of lockdown to a period of restored freedoms, we have to ask the right questions.
Who will be most affected? Right now, we have a very dynamic new set of forces interacting that are complicating the usual power dynamics. We have been divided even more distinctly into age groups and other demographics as a management strategy for fighting the virus. Now, those with immunization possess an advantage over those who don’t in terms of being allowed to travel or resume other normal activities.
Another new division that has been emphasized is between essential and non-essential employees. If you worked as a teacher or in any other essential public position, then your income was uninterrupted and so you basically had an entire year’s advantage over people who were told not to work because they were privately employed in “non-essential” jobs. The difference between these two sets of experiences should not be underestimated.
The psychological impact of being forced to stop competing in a workforce, to be kept from earning the resources needed to provide for your family is a major consideration. On the other hand, many public essential workers have had financial stability but have had to undergo such radical changes in their work/ life balance and their stress loads have increased far beyond the advantage given by their financial stability. For anyone who isn’t independently wealthy, this has been an extremely challenging year one way or another.
I’m suggesting that anticipating these new social antagonisms will help us to understand how to mitigate conflict to a degree. Through coming up with strategies to address the new needs, we will also identify business and community building opportunities. There will be a chance to found new organizations, to start new brands and generally to rethink how we use culture and our communications to address our needs and concerns in a proactive and productive manner.
I think that one key factor for all of the different groups with their different needs will be some way of measuring if you are doing well. We will need some sort of performance indicators to help to guide us in the right directions. What structure could we create that would measure progress for any of the varied needs we collectively assume?
When it comes to the problems we are facing, human psychology is the number one ingredient that is most responsible for both the symptoms and the solutions. We are suffering from problems of our own making, but we can find health and prosperity through solutions of our own devising. The first step in this process of self-improvement begins with realizing that we are the only ones who will be able to understand and respond to our own situations. We need both self-realization and self-actualization. We need to learn more about our own condition and work on a practice that will empower us to improve.
Every single person is a complicated case and needs figuring out on an individual basis. People struggling with frustration and resentment over being forced to not work are going to require different ways to think about their needs and contributions than someone who has been working on the frontlines serving the public during an entire year of escalated tension. We need to understand our own needs in order to address them. If we understand the needs of others, then we can find new ways to collaborate.
We need to identify and to create the new opportunities. As there are new needs, there are new demands and that means new markets. For people who have elevated stress levels, but who have financial security, there may be some techniques for rewarding that work that were not previously available. If stress is not simply the difficulty of a situation but the imbalance between work and reward, then coming up with better ways to reward those who are exhausted by the stress of their work will be an effective strategy to fulfill a new demand.
For people who have been out of work, who have had employment or income reduced even while the cost of living has remained the same or increased, there is going to be a need for economic activity. These people will be incentivized by opportunities to make money or to make meaningful contributions. They will be needing to restore a sense of confidence in their ability to be productive. Programs designed to put people to work and to reward achievement will help people in these groups to transition successfully.
If we are able to successfully identify our own needs and the needs of others, then this next phase can be a dynamic and rich period of growth. We are only limited by our understanding, our imagination and our will to get it done. But, if and when we see a vision of how it can be done better, how our energies will be put to good use and rewarded for the work, then we will truly gain traction and begin to leverage our way out of this quagmire.
As people begin to feel better about the future and are able to exercise their rights freely, we are going to see a lot of overcompensations that will unfortunately lead to accidents and tragic losses. It is a very good time to go slowly, to be measured, and to build upon tried and true practices. It is also a good time to found new things, to manifest that startup energy, to create solutions to the problems we are experiencing. Which direction is right for you? What resources do you have to fortify your decisions? These are some of the questions we can ask that will be helpful to coming up with sound strategies for social recovery.