Part 2: Your Vision
With vaccinations and the lifting of Covid restrictions it’s starting to seem possible to return to something of a normal work life. But before we plunge feet first back into work as we knew it before, it might be worth taking a little time to be mindful and set intentions for moving forward in ways that feel authentic an inspiring to us.
For some of us plunging back into what we had before isn’t possible. Many studios have closed or downsized, clients have drifted away, lots of people have relocated, leaving many movement trainers wondering “what now?”
I’ve heard from many trainers that they have a sense of being let down by long time clients, with whom they had established relationships, who went quiet, or got flakey, or just wouldn’t adapt to online training or studio Covid precautions. And many trainers have expressed having felt left adrift, unsupported by the studios for which they work through the pandemic.
Conversely, they are heartwarming stories of clients jumping in to offer stunningly generous support to their trainers, and studio owners sacrificing and working their butts off to keep their trainers financially afloat through the past year.
I know some of us are just trying to keep studio doors open and make rent or mortgage payments, so finding what’s “authentic” or “inspiring” might seem like a luxury beyond reach right now, but hopefully we can all look at the experiences of the past year or so and glean some positive insight and direction. We have an opportunity to turn set backs into growth.
All of our situations are different but, having heard from so many of you, here are some points for reflection that might be worth considering.
Understand it’s been difficult for all of us. Yes, we’ve seen amazing support and generosity, but there have also been some hurt feelings by people we may feel let us down. Your client who went quiet on you, or mass cancelled online sessions, might have been overwhelmed or depressed, or had any number of unusual life circumstances. Try not to write them off completely. Reach out, or if they reach out to you, maybe give them another chance.
The same goes for trainers who may have worked for you, or studios for which you worked. Many in our industry were in survival mode, which doesn’t always allow for being one’s best self. If we feel conflicted about a working relationship it may be a good time to reach out and try to understand the situation from the other’s perspective.
That said, tough times do sometimes expose some character traits in others that might be deal breakers for us. Only you can decided what you can and should tolerate, but try to evaluate your particular situation from a place of understanding and kindness.
Consider what you missed most about your “normal” work during restrictions. What was it you craved? Using hands on cueing? Working with other colleagues in the studio? Getting out of the house to work in a different space? Private sessions, or group classes? Teacher trainings?
What we yearn for is an indication of what aspects of our work really drive and inspire us. These are the elements of your career you might want to develop further and emphasize more going forward. If you missed simply being in a space away from home with a lot of people, then big, bustling studio life could be the direction for you going forward. If what you missed was just the chance to work quietly, one on one, doing subtle breath work and hands on cueing, then you might not need such a social environment. A small or home studio environment might be best, or even doing sessions in clients’ homes.
Learn from what you didn’t miss. I’ve spoken to many trainers who actually very much enjoyed the quiet and independence of working from home, some who were pretty happy to skip a daily commute, and a few who embraced online training so fully that they really don’t feel a drive to get back to working in person.
Maybe you were teaching at several locations and narrowed it down to just one or two during the pandemic, and maybe that feels more calm and manageable.
Or maybe your hours were lighter for a while and that gave you more space in your life for other interests or activities. Is there a way you could keep some of that space while still maintaining an income level that works for you?
Listen to your gut. If when you think of going back to some aspect of your regular work life you get a little wave of anxiety, that may be telling you something that’s important for you to recognize. See if you can make some quiet time to examine that more deeply. I often find that going for a long walk with no music or podcast playing can help me delve more deeply into the thoughts or feelings I may be pushing aside just to get through my busy days.
Think creatively. Many of us do our initial teacher training in a certain type of studio situation, then likely continue on to work in either that same studio or one very similar in its model. This can sometimes limit our imagination as to what our movement careers could be. Those of us who weathered the pandemic fairly successfully probably found that we had to be extremely flexible and creative in our thinking about our work. We had to respond to rapid-fire changes in restrictions, limitations, and expectations in our industry. We had to go online, reorganize studios, equipment, staffing, and work hours, rebalance home life and career, adapt and change our roles among our colleagues and in our families, just in order to keep our heads above water. Now is a great time to take those lessons and apply those skills to creating a career path that is truly ideal for you.
Does that mean a home studio? Starting a collective with colleagues who came through for you in unexpected ways over the past year? Putting yourself forward for a bigger role in a studio that really had your back, and for which you were able to demonstrate your loyalty and leadership skills through the tough times? Maybe it means exploring new professional relationships and finding a work environment that better aligns with your values and ideals.
Obviously, I can’t answer these questions for you. But I feel these rough times have shaken up our industry to the point that we can make just about whatever we can envision out of the pieces. So dream big. Or dream small. But I feel if we can envision something better for ourselves, and set clear intentions toward that vision, we’ll come out of this stronger as individuals and as an industry.