Bracing Yourself For 2021: 5 Things You Need to Prepare For

Written by Horng Yuan | Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. We have seen increasing death tolls, lockdown after lockdown, disruption in the market and business continuity, businesses closing down, loss of jobs, depression, and so on.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been actively studying the coronavirus, has reported the short- and long-term health effects of the coronavirus; note that their findings are still not conclusive and yet worrying enough. A new strain of coronavirus has been discovered recently and experts opined that the virus will continue to mutate. The World Health Organisation noted that tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, and the number of undernourished people could soar up to 822 million. In addition to that, nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion global workforce are at risk of losing their livelihoods.

All these should give us a better and clearer perspective. The pandemic will continue to unfold, and many believe that year 2021 might not be better.

A Bleak Future?

We are not really sure about the future, are we? While most people predict a bleak season ahead, we actually do not have good insights into the future. The truth is that anything can happen.

We should stay hopeful and prepare for the future. Those who are intentional in making preparations to brace themselves and lead in the real world by taking into account what is happening around us will more likely encounter success than those who do not do anything. Making preparation is the onset of a great strategy.

What Should We Prepare for?

There are many things that require our attention. The following are five that you should prepare for as you brace yourself for 2021.

1. Uncertainty

Most people do not like the feeling of not being sure what will happen in the future. Uncertainty is the opposite of predictability; nothing is really predictable at the present moment. The uncertainty that the world is facing now will likely be prolonged; we do not know when it will end. Hence, it is expected and required of you as a leader to lead through uncertainty.

To lead through uncertainty, two important attributes are needed, namely being flexible and agile in responding to current trends, demands, and circumstances. You need to be ready and able to change as to adapt to changing and different situations. You also need to think quick, make decisions fast, and move quickly. Delay can lead to unfavourable outcomes.

2. Opportunity

There is opportunity in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many fear the pandemic and see it as a crisis and great obstacle, you can choose to look at it as your greatest opportunity to create and innovate out of needs. It really depends on your perspective. The COVID-19 situation can be an accelerator to you, your dream and vision, and your innovation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that the small businesses that have thrived during COVID-19 include mask making, cleaning services, delivery services, grocery stores, meal prep delivery services, game making and selling, furniture selling, fitness equipment companies, landscaping and yard care, gardening supplies, telehealth services, used car business, and tutoring business. According to CNBC, the hot startups that can thrive are in the area of home improvement, pet products, home beauty products, gaming, and health and fitness.

So, what do you see? Note that the future belongs to those who see well and find the opportunity.

3. Instability

In the midst of uncertainty and opportunity, there is instability; volatility and unsteadiness are in the air. This may sound negative, but we have to accept the fact that things are liable to change for the worse rapidly and unpredictably.

One practical thing you can do to lead through instability is to make wise investment. Focus and pour more resources - your time, energy, and money - into the things that are gaining traction and simultaneously remove resources from those that are not gaining momentum. For examples, fitness trainers are investing into online gym sessions. Corporate trainers are reducing on face-to-face training and are more committed to online experiences and virtual sessions. Restaurants and eateries are beefing up takeaways and delivery services.

You create future momentum when you invest into the things that are producing current momentum. So, identify those things now and keep fueling them.

4. Restructuring

Your model or ways of dealing with things will possibly not work anymore in this new normal and season; the pandemic has very likely made it out of date. Therefore, if you have not, it is now the time to rethink, restructure, and reboot your model so to be responsive to the uncertainty and instability, and relevant to the opportunity presented to you. You do not want to be redundant and obsolete.

While restructuring, remember to stay true to yourself. Your new model should remain consistent with your vision, life priorities, goals, and values; your new model should complement them, not compromise them.

5. Self Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched us thin, and it will continue to do so. Long working hours, stress, and the demand for our energy, time, and resources will increase. We will need to dig deep into our reserves to lead through and navigate 2021.

It is crucial for you to be intentional in taking good care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically. You need to take time off to rest, recharge, rejuvenate, and heal. You need to generate deeper personal reserves so you can continue to give and contribute. As a leader, you cannot run on empty. The following are some practical things that you can do to enhance self care:

- Spend time with your close and loved ones

- Create sustainable pace and balance in your life and work

- Say “no” when you need to

- Quit doing the things that are no longer working

- Do not spend time on your unsolved problems when you are taking time off

- Eat healthily

- Exercise regularly


Year 2021 will be more challenging than the year before. Proper strategies are necessary for us to thrive. But we can choose to be positive and hopeful. Begin well by preparing well!