How pragmatic optimism could help steer your business (and mind) over the winter months

It’s often said you’re either a glass ‘half full’ or a glass ‘half empty’ kind of person. 

You’re either an optimist or a pessimist. But do those two things necessarily need to be mutually exclusive?

Children’s Activity Providers tend to be more of the former and have an optimistic approach to business challenges, however we can all agree 2020 has been a testing year and your outlook, which might be full of sunshine and rainbows normally, is perhaps a little more cloudy?

As a sector and as individuals, we’ve all needed to be incredibly resilient over the past few months (and that shows little sign of stopping) and I think we’ve done mighty well. However, the reality unfortunately is that depression, anxiety and stress have all increased since Covid-19 and social distancing measures were introduced. Recent studies suggest this is as high as 64% of people showing signs of depression.

If you’re feeling any of those things or concerned about your wellbeing in general, here’s a source of information you may find useful.

Not full-proof psychology but something I believe in quite strongly, is ‘pragmatic optimism’; the confident belief that the future is bright, filled with hope and opportunity, whilst staying realistic about the day to day challenges we face in business and life. Another way of defining ‘pragmatic optimism’ is both accepting the realities of life, and then making a choice to view and frame them in a way that is both beneficial and actionable.

I believe this approach is could be very useful over the coming months amidst continuing uncertain times for children’s activity providers.

Some simple examples of this in action:

  • We know the long-term popularity and demand for children’s activities won’t cease and parents value our services highly, so the sector will bounce back to full strength eventually – in the meantime I need to work hard to steer my business as best I can over the coming 6-12 months which will be challenging.
  • Online classes pose both an opportunity and a threat to my business, but I’ve learnt a huge amount of the past few months about my ability to get outside my comfort zone and learn new digital skills – this will hold me in good stead as I figure out which direction and services I continue offering longer term.
  • Government intervention will likely be an ongoing challenge to running my business, but with a proactive approach and ability to switch or even add new services to my business, I can ride out the storm and possibility of less revenue over the coming months.

We’ve by now accepted the impact of Covid-19 on our businesses and understand the likely uncertainty that will continue for some time. However, the ‘doom and gloom’ surrounding us can be suffocating without a belief system that actually helps us positively move forward in our work efforts. 

A little quote I came across recently by Morgan Hounsel;
“Optimism is usually defined as a belief that things will go well. But that’s incomplete. Sensible optimism is a belief that the odds are in your favor, and over time things will balance out to a good outcome even if what happens in between is filled with misery. And in fact you know it will be filled with misery. You can be optimistic that the long-term growth trajectory is up and to the right, but equally sure that the road between now and then is filled with landmines, and always will be. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.”

Before ending this thought, I want to state that traumatic experiences in life aren’t fixed by adopting a new perspective as simply as stated above and this piece does not take precedent over the qualified work and support of psychologists or therapists. If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression or stress, you may want to seek professional help or consider using resources online to get started.

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