I don’t know about you, but I’ve never navigated a business through a pandemic before. It’s completely new to me. And doing new things is the epitome of uncertainty, vulnerability, and discomfort. 

Brene Brown says that the only way to get to the other side of the discomfort of being new is to push right through the middle. Experience teaches us that as much as we want to fast forward through the hard rocky parts of doing something that we’ve never done before, we just can’t.

And this pandemic is pushing us through tough, new things more than usual. 

One of the biggest things I hear from travel entrepreneurs when they talk about struggles in their business during normal times is that they put off doing things that they know that they should do, because they are uncertain, uncomfortable, or scared to try. 

What I also know is when Travel Advisors give up trying new things, when they give up on learning something new because they aren’t “techie” or they refuse to learn new marketing techniques, they quickly become obsolete. There’s no neutral. You must be a constant learner. Especially in today’s digital age where things are moving a million miles a minute. Especially when COVID forces us into virtual spaces.

This might be your first pandemic and this might be your first hard thing but this won’t be your last. We can do hard things, but what do we do after the hard thing? 

Another damn hard thing. The next hard thing. 

But how you handle this crisis–this hard thing–will set the tone for how you handle all of the obstacles and challenges that come next. 

In fact, Brene Brown identifies this as your FFT, or your Effing First Time. 

We are all collectively going through a lot of different FFT’s right now. Here’s the steps to navigate:

Step 1: Name it. Identify it. And normalize it. 

Naming all the new and uncomfortable things is the first step. How can we know what we are up against it if we can’t name the anxiety inducing thing in the first place? 

So what’s the FFT here? Well I can I only tell you what it looks like for me:

Like I said – I’ve never been a travel advisor during a global pandemic before. I have never had to field this many rebookings and cancellations. I recently partnered with Ashley to launch this new host agency. I’ve never done any of this before. 

I’m nervous, scared, and uncertain a lot of the time. The start of 2020 felt AH-mazing. I had a full docket of group bookings. We went full into the launch of our host agency. We had a huge momentum going into February. You guys, it was happening for us and it was incredible. Then the travel bans kicked into effect. Social distancing went into effect. Travel advisors were collectively in it. We still don’t know what we don’t know. 

Every new day is an adventure. And we are continuously pivoting to stay fresh for our team and give them the tools they need to move forward. At the same time we are homeschooling kids and navigating sharing our work from home space with our significant others. 

I mean, I don’t know about you, but when I said that I loved the laptop lifestyle, this isn’t what I meant. 

Life in 2020 is hard and our anxiety levels are at an all-time high. We are all learning as we go. 

We need to normalize discomfort, talk more about how this is hard. And not because you are doing it wrong, but because you are trying it at all. 

It is normal to be frustrated. Normal to feel confused. It’s why we feel wobbly right now. Why this feels scary. Why we feel fatigued. Because we still don’t have clear guidelines on what the next right thing is. And it is ok to feel all of that and more.

Then Step 2: We put it into perspective. 

Even though we can’t put a timeline on it, we do know it won’t always be this hard. The quarantines and travel bans will not last forever. But they will be forever changed.

It’s ok to be disappointed right now. We can be both safe, have enough food, and healthy, but also feel disappointed by the current climate. Breathe into knowing that you are not navigating this alone. Lean onto your colleagues. Listen to the science.  

Then Step 3: Reality check expectations. 

Right now we are done with the adrenaline of the pandemic and the cancellations. And now we are in the lull. Now is the time when everything is settling in. We thought if we could JUST get through to the end of the school year, or till the end of summer…..

But now we have no timeline. And it’s become more and more apparent that uncertainty will be the name of the game for 2020.

Kind of like how a lot of people think the formula for a successful business is that you post on social media, post a blog, and magically someone will make a booking. 

We have terrible expectations for what this is supposed to look like. This is harder than we originally thought it would be and it’s going to go on for longer than we originally anticipated.

It’s time to settle into some discomfort and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

*****Disclaimer****Be weary of those offering certainty in uncertain times. “Anyone who is using anything but science and facts to give you certainty right now in my opinion needs to be reality checked.” —Brene Brown. 

Announce and clarify your expectations with what you are expected to accomplish with work and marketing. Clarify what your policy will be regarding bookings for clients for the remainder of 2020. Know your left and right limits. Ask for what you need. Be honest with what you can accomplish during this time. All of these things can be incredibly freeing and save you from resentment later on. 

  1. Name and normalize.
  2. Perspective
  3. Expectations

We are all new at something. And what makes us better and pushes us to grow is to be brave enough to wade into that discomfort and try to figure it out and learn. Whether that be setting up your ezine and autoresponder, learning a new social media platform, setting up facebook ads, reaching out to a client for the first time, handling bookkeeping, having hard conversations about racism or politics, etc, etc etc. Entrepreneurship is HARD. Because life is HARD. And it’s hard because you’re trying. It’s hard because you are experiencing an FFT. 

My hope for you is that you are always experiencing an FFT. 

**If you are interested in listening to the podcast that inspired this ezine, I encourage you to check out Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us on iTunes, stitcher, or wherever else you get your podcasts. 

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