2021 and 2020 feel like the same year.
2021 was supposed to be a year of new hope. Where I live, we’re still in back-to-back lockdowns, likely for the rest of the year. Dealing with a health crisis is harder than we thought. It’s okay. Humans make mistakes. It’s not exactly easy to fight an invisible enemy.
The changes in the pandemic reported by Yale University mean offices are likely to remain optional.
Working from home will still be as cool as it was last year. Clothes are still optional. PJs are kickass. Coffee still raises energy levels when the boredom of being surrounded by the same four walls at home takes its toll. There’s a huge upside to all of this: you can throw away the rules.
Getting married in style
I’m supposed to be getting married soon. There are a lot of rules about marriage. Oh, and a contract to sign.
Any sort of social gathering is still increasingly difficult. There are those who refuse to wear masks and obey science (I quietly chucked away their invites). There are those who qualify for a vaccine but protest and refuse to get it.
There are those who qualify but are shady about whether they did or didn’t get the jab. Then there are those cheeky buggers who sit in limbo between “I’ve had my first dose but not my second.” Their half-pregnant rationale™ is odd and hard to decipher. Why would you do one and not the other? I can’t work them out, so I cancel them too. Cancel culture is mainstream. Sorry.
Then there are daily rule changes in how many people can be indoors, how many meters apart one must stand, what is deemed a lawful business and what isn’t… The list of considerations is long and I’m a good little utopian citizen. But reading the guidelines is more confusing than reading parking signs.
The good ol’ honeymoon has to be organized too. Try planing any kind of travel, even if you’re staying in your home country like I am. God help us all.
“You can go here on these dates and not on these dates. These places have border restrictions. Now, if a lockdown occurs then here’s the 5-page cancellation policy that basically says we’ll take your money and run.”
Scammers must be having a field day. Collect money. Blame a virus. Run.
So I suggest we throw out the rules and expectations for weddings. If you even get a sniff of a wedding shrimp cocktail then you’re a bloody legend. Otherwise, Twitter doesn’t want to hear your feelings.
I’m going to go even more drastic. What would happen if wedding ceremonies became extinct? What would happen to the global debt bubble? Just joking. I only planned on doing the government marriage office anyway. $100k for a tent and cocktails seems like a bad investment. Especially when you can switch out the label ‘wedding’ for ‘dinner’ and get an 86.7% discount.
Dinner dates with people you don’t like
You know the ones. Some aunty you haven’t seen in years. Ya mother wants you to have a dinner at a restaurant with her. It’s going to require driving over an hour in sh*tty traffic.
The dinner should last about one hour given that’s how long it takes for the kitchen to cook the food and shove the food in thy mouth. But it takes longer. Before you know it, three hours from your Saturday night are goneski.
Oh, and you probably have to pay the bill… and drive them home.
Well, the rule for now is you don’t need to be nice and attend events just to keep others happy. You have a great excuse. You want to keep everybody safe. It has been a tough few years.
You feel my vibe? The best part is, maybe after things start to return to normal those people we don’t like having dinner with will simply stop asking. They’ll have a two-year habit of no dinners with us and that will be the new normal. We can only hope.
Life is too short to have an extended network of people you don’t like.
Meetings that have no outcome
Zoom changed my life. In 2019, I had to get dressed up like an ugly penguin in a suit and have my throat occasionally choked by a tie. Suits equal discomfort. Suits are done for show. And who the heck wants to be showy at work?
Meetings are a real problem that require disruption. Corporates love startup disruption but they haven’t disrupted themselves yet and the need for back-to back-meetings. One day, perhaps.
Zoom is hope. Zoom gave me my life back.
Many meetings I used to have to attend had zero outcome. The invite was simply a blank email with a bunch of names cc’d and a loose subject line like “meeting about business.” I protested about all the meetings and nobody seemed to care about time as much as me. I desperately wanted time to, you know, talk to customers and see if they’d buy stuff.
Zoom freed the shackles on my time. I learned to attend the meeting, say hi, and go on mute. Nobody had any clue. I then trained my colleagues like dogs to use eloquently placed excuses throughout the meeting about what I’m probably doing.
“He’s probably stuck with a customer.”
“Oh, he had that thing. That really important thing.”
“I know — there’s a meeting conflict with another just-as-important meeting.”
I acted nicely about meetings for a while. Eventually, I just stopped making excuses and threw away meeting rules. If the meeting is useless then let your attendance make a statement. The worst-case scenario is someone thinks you’re in another meeting.
Remember: if they can’t see your face then it didn’t happen. Reminder also: most people don’t check the attendee list while in a meeting. They simply assume everybody is there. Now you got time back. You’re welcome.
Ditch the need to progress your career
Career progression in the corporate world is used as motivation. It’s made out to be a built-in feature that should stop you from starting your own business. Nobody explains you’ve got to progress your career on your own.
KPIs are about revenue, revenue, revenue. KPIs don’t include helping people progress their careers.
How do you progress your career on Zoom? It’s pretty hard. Career progression comes from relationships. Relationships built on Zoom just aren’t as strong. You need to have a coffee with someone to lubricate the relationship with your liquid confidence. Or even better, you need to have a meal with someone to see how they eat.
Humans like to eat together to see how we eat. Must be a caveman thing.
Throw away the need to progress your career for now. Use the time you’d use to advance your career to work on an after hours side hustle.
Here’s your permission slip
The pandemic is a two-year gap year. Now you’ve got permission to take it easy on yourself and throw away the rules. Life will be great again. For the time being, disorganized is the new normal.
No need to apologize to the rule-makers. Explain the new rules. We’re living life on our own terms now. But let’s not tell them that extends beyond 2021. It’ll be our little secret.