How To Not Go Back To Business As Usual
One of the things that I’ve been having a difficult time with, since the U.S. election in November, and the inauguration and #MuslimBan in January, is seeing people and businesses go “back to business as usual.” We had a candidate run a campaign on open hatred, racism, sexism, islamophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, etc, and WIN (though it was the system who elected him, not the people as a whole). Regardless, it’s a bad situation for the majority of the people. It’s gotten worse really fast as soon as He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named took office and put a #MuslimBan law in place, signed an order to construct the wall against Mexico, signed a new global gag rule-which puts people’s reproductive rights more in danger, signed to advance the Keystone pipeline, is completely denying climate change, and appointing openly known White supremacists to his cabinet and doing it illegally. I know things were bad for people of color (especially Black folks), Muslims, queer and trans folks, disabled people, and women before, and they’re only getting worse. The U.S. is no longer considered a democracy, and an authoritarian, enormous ego is, now, trying to run this country. How can we possibly go back to “business as usual”?
What I mean by “back to business as usual” includes businesses (big, small, and individual, self-employed folks) continuing to sell themselves without acknowledging the dire political climate that we’re in, as well as folks “moving on” with their lives as if everything is going to be okay or they’re not affected by this mess. Everyone is affected by this mess, and some people have more privilege than others that will help them in certain ways. For the most privileged, going back to business as usual may seem like the most natural thing because they’re not as worried about their livelihood being affected. However, some or many of their clients, customers, friends, family, neighbors, co-workers (in other words, fellow citizens) might be, and already ARE, really affected by what is going on politically, and that needs to be addressed.
I’m Not Saying You Shouldn’t Promote Your Work
What I am saying is…
Do it in a socially and politically conscious way. There IS a way to promote yourself, your work, or your business that also acknowledges what we’re facing as a country, and as a world, right now. I’ve heard from self-employed friends that they’ve changed their messages on social media to match what their clients/customers are feeling right now, and this is a great example of being more conscious of the realities that we're currently facing. Here are a couple of things for folks to consider:
1) How does the current political climate impact you, personally? What are your biggest worries and concerns for yourself, for others and the world? What do you wish others would say that they’re not? What do you wish others would do that they’re not? What do you REALLY want to say deep down? Are you outraged? Are you shutdown? Are you sad?
All of these questions are important to consider for your health and for your business, and helping others. I encourage you to journal on this or record yourself talking out all of your thoughts and feelings out loud. Then, I suggest that you share your thoughts and feelings with your audience, customers, clients, friends, etc. Which brings me to number two…
2) Are you listening to your audience/client/customer and what they’re feeling right now? Chances are, some or many of them aren’t feeling too great about the state of the country and how that impacts the rest of the world. Listen to what they’re expressing on social media. If you don’t know, then reach out to a few of them, personally, and ask. Connect. We need to be connected to one another if we’re going to fight and resist.
After you’ve listened to what your audience/customer/client is saying, see how you can acknowledge their thoughts and feelings into your social media messages. This may mean taking a step back from directly selling and just sending a note of acknowledgment. This may mean re-evaluating your business values and ethics. This will most likely mean shifting your perspective in some way, getting more creative, and, most importantly, just being real and genuine. People like real and genuine. The more real and genuine you are, the more people will flock to you and resonate with your message.
But, I want to be clear that this is NOT a marketing technique. This is a call to get in alignment with your values and beliefs, and live out your values and beliefs in your business and everyday life in your most genuine way possible.
Are You Spending Your Money In Ways That Align With Your Highest Values?
People have had enough, and they are resisting as much as they can. Part of this resistance is paying attention to who we give our money to and support. As soon as the CEO of Uber associated himself with DT, everywhere I turned on social media, I saw people #boycottuber and #deleteuber. Lyft, Uber’s competition, did what Uber should have done in the first place, wrote a letter against the #MuslimBan clearly stating their values and beliefs. This is a critical time, and it’s important that you’re upfront about what you believe, and who and what you support. I believe all businesses have a responsibility to speak out against human rights; it is humans, after all, that they’re trying to reach. When our human rights are in question, as they are (and have been for folks for a long time prior to this recent election), we need to speak out and take action to fight that and ensure our rights. Do you support #BlackLivesMatter, Muslims, queers, etc? Make it known loud and clear through your business.
After the election, one of the things I heard from a lot of women, in particular, was that they were, now, going to donate a certain percentage of their business’ profits to an organization that was in alignment with their values and beliefs. This is an important way of giving and supporting marginalized folks and their rights. What organization are you passionate about? It’s wonderful to support the more well-know ones like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU (I have myself), and I encourage you to look into local, smaller organizations that could really use your help too. Like Black Lives Matter. Like your local women’s clinic that is just trying to stay afloat. Like any other grassroots organization in your area.
Also, think about giving to individuals who could really use financial support. Do you listen to podcasts by people of color, or read blogs by disabled folks, or watch YouTube videos by and about queer folks? Consider giving to them. Most of these creatives aren’t making much of a dime for the essential work and art that they are producing. If you enjoy their creations, then consider giving to their Patreons or reaching out to them, personally, to offer a donation. If you really don’t have extra money to donate right now (and I totally hear that because I’m in a similar boat), then here are some free ways to give.
~Volunteer: The ACLU has a list of various ways to volunteer. Here’s a sample of their volunteer page, and how you can sign up to do any of these things. Check with other organizations you like to see how you can give your time.
~Rate & Write Reviews of Podcasts by Marginalized Folks that you enjoy. I cannot stress how much this helps, and it only takes a few seconds! Just log into your iTunes account, search for the podcast, and click on rate and review. Done! iTunes doesn’t notify you of new reviews, so if you want the podcasters to know that you wrote them one, then send them a little message on social media as well; they’ll be happy to hear you’ve taken the time to do so.
~Spread the Word about creatives that you enjoy and get something out of. Share their episodes, videos, blog posts, articles, art, etc… on social media. You can retweet, but, also, consider adding your own message about what you appreciate about a particular episode/writing/video/etc and why you think others would like it.
~Give Testimonials to the individual businesses you support and believe in. Write a Yelp review of one a Black-owned, Muslim-owned, Mexican-owned, disabled-owned, queer-owned, etc... business that you love and support.
Do Anything But Get Complacent
We have an opportunity to change things, and it's our responsibility as humans and citizens living on this earth together to try and make the world a better place for us all. I know that politics and thinking about the state of the world can feel very overwhelming. As an empath, I feel this all the time, which is partly why I do the work that I do, and why I'm constantly creating and redefining my boundaries. Remember, you're not the only one overwhelmed; we're in this together. If you need support, reach out to a friend, family member, or someone who cares. Also, it's important to remember that taking care of yourself is an act of resistance. Selfcare also involves caring and being cared for by others. We need each other; take the courage to ask for support. But, how do you take care of yourself and not get complacent?
Create healthy boundaries for yourself. It's a constant process of trying to find the right balance between trying to stay aware of the state of the country and world and taking a break from the news and media. You're definitely going to need these breaks though, and I highly encourage you to find a system that works for you. Maybe instead of looking at your phone first thing in the morning, you do something else like drink your coffee, exercise, stretch, meditate, journal, etc. Before you fall into bed at night, place your phone on a table far away from your bed an hour before sleep, then read or watch a television show before bed; you'll have a lot less bizarre and dark dreams and will sleep better. Create the boundaries that you need.
I suggest planning out actions that you're going to take and scheduling them in your calendar ahead of time to help you balance your selfcare, joy, and being aware of the news/politics more effectively and efficiently. Research some actions you can take (pay attention to what your activist, social justice, and feminist friends are saying on social media) like calling your Reps, consider running for office or support a woman to run for office, join an organization that you believe in, think about how you can use your privilege to support marginalized folks, listen to marginalized voices, show up at local protests/marches/events, attend city council meetings, educate yourself and others, stay aware, organize with your friends and neighbors....
There are lots of everyday actions to take (If you need more detailed suggestions, let's talk). Pick some that you will ACTUALLY do and that excite you, then write them down in your calendar. And share what you're doing with your partner(s), family, friends, co-workers, etc to help inspire them to stay motivated to resist and help create the kind of change we want to see in the world. I highly recommend getting involved with a group that is taking structured actions, or organize with a small group of friends and host "town hall" like meetings at your house (like a friend of mine is doing). It's more fun and effective to create social and political change together anyway. Which brings me to...
Collaborate and Support Each Other
I would love to see businesses share businesses they love. It can be lonely for us individual self-employed folks who are trying to grow our business, why not share each other’s work? Write each other testimonials. Be guests on each other’s podcasts or guest write posts for each other’s blogs. We socially conscious business folks need to stick together! Let’s think of more ways to collaborate with each other and support each other’s businesses. How would you like to see others support you and your business? Do you have a collaboration idea brewing? Reach out and connect with those you respect, adore and support.
I’m urging us to re-examine our values and priorities in our business, within ourselves, in our personal lives and our work lives. I’m urging us to care. Not just for ourselves, but for others, for the planet, for each other, for the whole world, and wake up to become more conscious of how we can implement our care in our everyday lives. The world does not revolve around us, as individuals, as capitalism will have us believe. We are in this together, and we need each other. I’ve been hearing from others that selfcare is not just about caring of the self, but also involves caring for one another. We need each other. And, now, is a perfect opportunity to really tap into that care, lean on one another, ask each other for support, create together, have the hard conversations with one another, organize social and political change together, support one another in running for political office, getting together to write postcards, host an important film like Ava DuVernay’s 13th, take a trip to your govenor’s office if you have access to that, or just hold space for one another to just BE. SEEN. And HEARD. And CARED for. What are you going to do to disrupt business as usual or go back to business as AWAKE and CONSCIOUS and LIBERATED?
If you're looking for more support around how you can live your life everyday in alignment with your values and beliefs, then let's talk!