For those of us in and around the hospitality business, July has been particularly cruel. June brought us increases in customer demand – and what a welcome sight that was. STR showed increased in RevPAR month of month (we won’t talk about year over year), traveler sentiment surveys were FINALLY trending up and though it still seemed distant, we could all see some sort of light at the end of this tunnel.
Enter July, and we realized that light was just another oncoming train. Our curve was not flattening, cases were rising, and we watched our potential travelers retreat into their cocoons. And let us be honest, it made us sad.
I sit on several boards of hospitality sales and marketing leaders and there was a noticeable difference in mood on our Zoom meetings for the last few weeks. There was an actual sadness that did not previously exist. I have been on phone calls with several colleagues who previously were maybe apprehensive or overwhelmed, but now, they too were sad.
We have legitimate reasons to be sad. The virus is proving to be tenacious, our leadership is a mess, our guests that are showing up are not wearing masks and they are complaining about are limited services or staffs.
If ever there was a time to collectively go back to bed and pull the covers over your head, this would be it.
But, we cannot. For a lot of reasons, we simply cannot. Somehow, someway, we have got to rally and continue the good fight. You know we do. But how?
Any way we can. We need to look beyond this pesky oncoming train, to the actual light that is behind it.
I have been something of a risk taker for many years, so I sort of feel like I am a little better prepared to deal with this than many. When you take risks a lot, you end up failing a lot more than if you play it safe. So, I have failed, and been presented with the strong desire to pull the proverbial covers over my head but have found ways to rally. Multiple times! So, I will share what has worked for me in the hope that you may find something that might work for you too.
- Start your day with a motivational video. Or a happy song. Seriously, it helps. Do you remember the Jessica affirmation video? I watched this video every for about a month when it first came out and it just helps. Here it is. https://youtu.be/ziED1Aanvzo
- I also listen to Katrina and the Waves Walking on Sunshine first thing. It just starts me out in a better mood. This song may not do it for you, but I bet you have some song that gets you moving. Play it.
- Set some very teeny but specific goals and do them. Why teeny? Because giant goals right now will likely be beyond your control. But teeny goals, you can control those, and we all need to feel a little bit of control. If it makes you feel better, you can have an aspirational goal that is larger, that is okay – but map out some teeny goals you can start to accomplish today that will help you get there. For me, I usually sign up for some ridiculous athletic event that I am in no shape for right now. But I sign up for one that is six months away. Like a triathlon. Then I just set a series of small goals that will help to get me ready – spend the next two months doing my couch to 5k running program so I can run 3 miles. However, that is a little too much for right now. But right now, my teeny goal is to spend 30 minutes walking on my treadmill (it is 110 in AZ right now) for 4 out of 7 days this week. AND, as I walk, I listen to Mary Trump’s book on Audible. Now that is a teeny goal with a built-in reward. I make a little chart and it just makes me feel better to check off my treadmill days. Plus, I honestly cannot wait to hear the next chapter in the book, so I am happy to jump on that treadmill to get to listen to the book.
- Help somebody else. If you want to feel better, I used to think that a spa day would help – a day of being pampered. But then a wise friend told me if I really wanted to feel better, I should try to help someone else and, ha, they were right, the feeling is even better than a spa day. And less germy. There is something uniquely satisfying about being able to offer any sort of aid to another person. And it can be anything. Pick up groceries for an at-risk person, put a neighbor’s trash can out for them, pick up the phone and call someone who might be alone and lonely. Pay someone a compliment. There is not a single person who is not in need of some kindness today, share it.
- Clean and organize your workspace. Wherever you are working, tidy it up. Spend 10 – 20 minutes making it more organized and efficient and pleasant. You might need to spend a lot of time there; it should feel appealing. Light a candle to make it smell good too maybe.
- Learn something new. I try to do this every single day. Take a class, read an article, watch a YouTube how to video. I am pretty sure there is a YouTube How To video for everything you ever wanted to learn. Is your dog misbehaving? Do you have ants you need to get rid of? Video. Need to fix a dripping faucet? Video.
- Express yourself. Somehow, some way, we all need to be heard and reassured that what we think matters. Paint a picture, make a TikTok video, write a blog post, email a friend. Find a way to express what is on your mind in a way that isn’t hurtful or harmful to others. That last part is important because sometimes I want to express myself by hitting people hard on the head who don’t wear masks and that may not end making me feel better because they may in turn beat me up. Nobody wins then. So instead, I bought myself two masks with a funny picture on it that makes others laugh when they see it. And one non-mask wearer even said to me, “now if I had that mask, I would wear one” so I handed him the 2nd one I bought, and he put it on. No head hitting needed (today).
- Practice gratitude until you get good at it. Try to start and end every day but thinking about a few things you can be grateful for. Again, they may be teeny. But just getting into the habit of trying to think about things to be grateful for help your brain focus on good instead of doom and misery.
- Write down what works for you. If you do something and you find it makes you feel better, write it down so you can remind yourself in the future. Keep an ongoing list, because chances are good, you might find yourself in need of motivation again sometime.
Now I will add one caveat to all of this – there is a difference between being temporarily demotivated and clinically depressed. These steps above are not going to help much if you are clinically depressed – you need to seek out some professional help and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. A happy sone or video is NOT going to do it for you and thinking it will make you feel worse.
But if you are just feeling weary from cranky coworkers, customers, or family members, or feeling stressed about what the future holds, try any or all of these. And, if you have any other ideas – PLEASE share them in the comments! We can all use all the help we can get right now.