“Thank you for your patience.”
It’s become my mantra. I repeat it daily, not only to clients waiting for their projects and in emails I’ve finally gotten around to answering, but also to myself.
We’re all waiting, aren’t we? We’re waiting in lines everywhere, we’re waiting for deliveries, we’re waiting for our turn in the vaccine queue.
And let’s face it, we’re waiting for things to be normal. We’re waiting for “this” to all be over.
During the first shutdown last spring, the waiting in the midst of so many unknowns seemed interminable.
When we could finally reopen our business, we tried to act like everything was normal, even when it wasn’t.
We tried to maintain routine when nothing was stable.
We tried to continue pushing ahead with the same set of parameters we’ve always relied on, even when they were no longer there.
But nothing was the way we expected it to be. Especially ourselves.
I am co-owner of a mom and pop business, a custom jewelry studio and retail showroom. My husband is the jeweler, and I am the business manager, customer service representative, IT department and marketing/social media specialist.
In business, you are always adapting to economic reality. In the last 25 years, we adapted to the dot-com crash, the aftermath of 9/11, the housing crash, the Great Recession and the quantum shift of demographic and technological changes that permanently disrupted brick-and-mortar retail.
So this time around, with self-care in the forefront, we shortened our business hours and found myriad little ways to reduce our overhead. But even though we were more in control of our day-to-day life, we were also more stressed out.
And then something happened. Maybe we were just exhausted by it all, but one day we just stopped worrying about it. We relaxed. We let everything roll.
Today, we are fortunate to have remained healthy, to have not lost anyone close to us, and to still be in business, especially considering the highly nonessential nature of a luxury artisan product during a global pandemic, civil and political upheaval, and economic instability.
But there’s no denying that everything is different.
We looked at the toll the stress of the past year was taking and we decided to stick with our shorter workday and appointment-only policy indefinitely.
We made the excruciating decision to sell our beloved home and downsize, freeing ourselves from an unmanageable mortgage. We renewed our commercial lease for two years, but we also set the retirement wheels in motion.
And we acknowledged that we simply weren’t going to multitask or turn projects around with the same speed we — or our clients — were used to. Our clients, who are just as exhausted as we are, have been resoundingly supportive.
Instead of struggling to meet unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our business, we accepted the ongoing challenging reality of this chaotic time and chose to give ourselves a break.
“Thank you for your patience.” Indeed.