Remembering the big picture, especially as you ease into 2022…

Remembering the big picture, especially as you ease into 2022…
14 Jan 2022

As you sit in front of your laptop for what is probably the first time in a couple of weeks, the uncertainty of what 2022 holds weighs heavily on your shoulders. And you start to panic about what the new year will look like for you.

It is quite possible that during your time off (possibly on a “staycation”, where you once again found yourself online), you probably surfed the socials where you saw memes, tweets and status updates regarding a “new year, new you” mindset where people expressed their desire to be motivated, be positive and to kick 2022’s ass”. “Sigh”.

All great feelings. In theory.

But, you find yourself (not surprisingly) exceptionally overwhelmed. And it is only day one – Will 2022 be as difficult as the previous two years?

A relevant question.

But it is at this point that we believe it is important to take a step back from unrealistic new year’s resolutions in order to understand that as individuals it is not so simple for us to rise above the dysfunction and disappointment that the last two years has presented us. It is not so easy to move onward and upward triumphantly despite it all.

You see, for many of us it has felt like our lives have been placed on hold since the beginning of the pandemic, inevitably prevented us from making big life changing decisions. So, before you undertake any knee jerk reactions based on a misguided effort to immediately improve 2022 – before it has really even begun – you first need to see the wood for the trees.

So take a deep breath – don’t stress – center yourself and remember the “big picture”.

The big picture

To be honest, we don’t blame you for wanting to take a “hopeful” approach to your new year, making optimistic resolutions as you begin. In fact, we can even understand the overwhelming need for a “better year”. We want it too. But with that “need” comes the urge to do too much too quickly in order to accelerate the change we have all been so desperate for. The result? We risk not achieving what we actually set out to do in the first place.

So how do we prevent this? By being able to see the wood for the trees, keeping in mind our overall goal and bigger picture for the year, what we really want to achieve, allowing us to focus our efforts on 2022 actually being better. Realistically.

What is our approach, you may be thinking?

  • Stay away from setting too many goals at once;
  • Instead, pick one goal at a time or choose just one word to focus on;
  • Be very specific with your plans to achieve your broader goal (or word), the bigger picture, looking at it from both a failure and success point of view. By doing so, you will have realistic expectations for what you are setting out to accomplish;
  • Factor in failure (it’s okay to fail, because at least you know you tried) – ensuring that you don’t immediately give up if you don’t attain your goal by the first quarter;
  • Remember to reflect back on and take stock of the past year (as we did in Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV of our Taking Stock series), focusing on what went right and what went wrong (trying your best to improve on both as you progress through the year);
  • Take actionable steps to break your goal (or word) down into measurable steps that will help you keep your goal on track; and
  • Keep in mind that “perfection” is impossible. There will be days when you don’t achieve what you set out to. But know that it’s okay – accept it, own it, and then get back on your horse and carry on.

Self-compassion and kindness are key!

The so-called “Great Resignation” has seen swathes of people quit or change their jobs in the hopes of finding that thing that “makes their hearts sing” – “if not now, when?” And this is a clear reflection of the widespread feeling of restlessness caused by the last two years. But instead of following suit or setting yourself up to fail by making rash decisions, you need to stop for a second. Don’t get caught up in the “hoopla” that is a “new year, new you” mindset. Focus on your goal and your ”bigger picture” with self-compassion and kindness. For example –

  • Approach this new year with cautious optimism, always making adjustments for setbacks along the way (particularly in light of any uncertainty amid the pandemic).
  • Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when some goals feel less achievable because of various life challenges. There will be moments when we all make slower progress than we would like. And that is an inevitable part of life. Not just of Covid.

2022 may indeed seem heavy with optimism and a “need for change” and sure, you may have an overwhelming sense of rushing in to achieve results as soon as possible, making hay while the sun shines so to speak, but this is simply not sustainable.

By choosing one word or focusing on one goal for the year, you are being gentler on yourself, which we believe is key right now.

But don’t confuse being gentle with being weak. A single word and a single goal for the year is a powerful practice. It is far more effective to focus on a word like “balance” than to immediately “jump to it” and know how to spread your time equally between work life and home life (especially if you have never done so before) from the get-go. As you inspire yourself towards an overall more balanced life, it is likely that you will find yourself achieving balance as a byproduct of simply having a different mindset. So, make sure that your goal (and your word for the year) feels good, achievable and attainable to you. Not pushy, demanding or unrealistic.

Remember – a small misstep today should not mark the end of your endeavours. Remember, it is only a small set back. And that’s okay.

Winston Churchill said it best –

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

So aim for slower progress, have the courage to get up if you fall and remember to always be kind to yourself.

Finally seeing the wood for the trees

Some positive notes to light your way forward.

Sometimes it can be tough to zoom in on the bigger picture when there is so much static noise around you. But a key to “keep on keeping on” is to see the wood for the tress, to see things for what they really are in order to accept them, deal with them and roll with the punches.

Covid

Haven’t we discussed this enough already?

Sure, the news has been dominated by this awful pandemic for two years now but breaking the “Covidness” of it down a little bit into bite size pieces can also help us digest the situation a little better (preventing further overwhelm).

Take Omicron for example.

The emergence of new variants such as Omicron or the new so-called Deltacron – an omicron and delta co-infection (discovered in Cyprus) is actually not earth shattering. In fact, it is something to be expected and should not affect the world’s ability to shift Covid from a pandemic to an endemic. The world should not panic – taking knee jerk reactions (like travel bans), because new variants are normal.

In fact, according to Politico, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the acute stage of the pandemic could come to an end in 2022, the big driver behind it being the vaccination of 70% of the world’s population by July. And WHO believes this is doable.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Covid will disappear completely, rather it will become more seasonal, which we can all deal with. Flu is an example of a seasonal endemic virus which constantly circulates in the background, rising and falling seasonally each year. People get their “flu shot” to guard against it, helping them to build up multiple layers of immunity over many years. And this will likely be the same situation with Covid. “Boosters” will probably be required on a yearly basis going forward, just like a normal flu shot.

Seemingly an end to the acute stage of the pandemic is finally in sight…..

Travel restrictions

Travel and tourism are crucial for developing countries, and none more so than South Africa.

South Africa is no stranger to losses suffered due to the impacts on tourism – travel restrictions having been placed on us more than once. According to Stats SA

“In South Africa, the direct contribution of the tourism sector to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was 130,1 billion rand in 2018 and constituted nearly 3% direct contribution to GDP. In 2018, the tourism sector contributed about 4,5% of total employment in South Africa. In 2020, the volume of tourists decreased by 72,6% from 10, 2 million in 2019 to 2,8 million in 2020”.

But with countries like Canada, the United Kingdom,  the United States and European Union lifting their travel bans on South Africa (as recently as 10 January 2022) – all key source markets in terms of both travel and trade for South Africa – it appears that tourism will once again be promoted and GDP finally positively influenced.

And the only place to go from here is up!

The world is more connected than ever!

After two years of settling into and adjusting to the realities of the pandemic, remote work and hybrid environments have become the new normal. Many legal practitioners have attended court via videoconferencing platforms, such as Zoom or Teams, have consulted with clients in the same way and have managed entire cases (and their entire practices) from home utlising legal technology that enables attorneys to work from anywhere, at any time and almost from any device.

As time has moved on and the novelty of change and the “new normal” has worn off, legal practitioners have realised how much more efficient remote work has made their practice. Using legal technology to enable easy access to documents, case management, document automation, legal accounting and practice management, has had the corresponding impact that the practice of law is altered in a way that has been easier, that has created efficiency, productivity and (importantly) profitability.

And if there is a silver lining to the events of the last two years – for the legal profession at least – it is the acceleration and adoption of time-saving technologies.

There’s no going back now!

And with that…

While we admit that we do not yet know (with any degree of certainty) what 2022 will actually look like, at AJS we want to encourage you to focus on the bigger picture as you begin your work year.

Remember that whether it is a pandemic we are dealing with or another newsworthy event (like the Russia vs Ukraine conflict), there will always be something on our plates. That’s just life, full of ups and downs. So, look forward, not backward and plan accordingly (and as best as you can).

We encourage you to smile, remembering that life is beautiful – often requiring the perfect mix of “will, humour, and imagination” to turn something unfortunate and ugly into something positive and beautiful.

Lastly, we encourage you to make mistakes, try new things and push yourself to learn, live and change. Look within yourself to discover what you truly want from this year and approach everything slowly and with cautious optimism.

You got this!

See also:

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
Alicia Koch
Alicia Koch

Alicia Koch is an admitted attorney with over 10 years PQE. She has worked in law firms, has had her own legal consulting company and has been an in-house legal... Read more about Alicia Koch

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