Embarking on a career in live events primes you for dealing with the unexpected. Your keynote speaker goes AWOL? No problem. Venue cancels on you at the last minute? Piece of cake. (Well…not quite, but you get my drift) We’re tough, resilient and creative, because we have to be.
But – and here’s the rub – event professionals also tend to be the kind of humans that thrive on planning. Whether that’s mapping out our three-year strategy, budget forecasting, or drafting function sheets, our entire professional lives are based on these fundamentals.
So as #eventprofs, we are both best placed and worst placed to cope with the disruption that a global pandemic causes. It’s this dichotomous blend of skills and behaviours that make us so bloody good at our jobs. But some of us will be struggling with all this right now, experiencing a significant shift in our career trajectories. Perhaps you’ve been furloughed and are at a loss without a purpose. Or you’re struggling to adjust to working from home. Maybe you’re self-employed and your clients have cancelled your gigs. And some of you will have lost your jobs entirely…and swiftly. So what does that means for us? In my case, it means navigating a tumultuous rollercoaster of emotions which veer from dramatic catastrophizing to determined positivity within any given moment.
Those feelings, and everything in between, are perfectly ok. But I’m not a psychotherapist so I’m not qualified to validate anyone’s feelings, but rather to offer a few ideas for how we can harness that inherent resilience that lives inside us, and take some practical steps to give us the illusion of control, and help us move forward.
Suggested daily aspirations
- Do one thing to progress your professional goals
This could be updating your CV, re-organising your WFH workspace, upskilling by doing an online course, or applying for a PT job in a supermarket to get those bills paid and learn new skills you can apply to your next events role.
- Do one thing to progress your personal goals
If you’ve got the time you could apply to volunteer for a charity you’re passionate about, for example. Or maybe it’s something as simple as painting your garden fence or getting those sacred eight hours of sleep per night.
- Do one mindless fun activity
This can be anything that brings you joy and gives your mind space to breathe. I binge-watch musicals…don’t judge me, it’s my thing, let it go (pun intended….)
I’ve found that by tackling those three areas of life every day, I feel much more in control and positive about the future. But if that’s all too much and you can only manage to do just one thing right now, reach out to your fellow #eventprofs contacts and use this as an opportunity to reconnect. If you don’t have an extensive network yet, use communities (like EventWell) to find and connect with people like you. There has never been a more unifying time than right now, when everyone is struggling in some capacity. Just the sheer act of reaching out will make you feel less alone in your journey, and you can share war stories as well as ideas for next steps.
Finding your own balance – whether it’s similar to what I’ve just described, or something totally different – is going to be crucial in protecting your mental health through this unsettling time. I don’t want to add to the noise about predicting when the events sector will revive – speculation on that is well-documented by those smarter than myself. But I’ve been speaking lots of my industry contacts over the past month – corporates, recruitment agencies, venues, vendors – and the overwhelming feeling is one of unity and positivity that our beloved sector will recover quicker than may first be apparent. Perhaps that’s simply unsubstantiated optimism that we’re all embracing as a coping mechanism, but in any case, I’m taking it. And let’s remember, that if we can deal with all of the dramas that live events throw at us on a daily basis, then we can deal with anything. We’ve got this, gang.
Caroline is an events and content specialist with over 12 years’ experience curating and delivering B2B events and awards programmes across various sectors including retail, real estate and legal.
Her most recent role was a senior leadership position heading up the events division at Burlington Media Group, a publishing and events company operating in the legal business services marketplace.
Prior to this, she held events roles at Reed Business Information, the Professional Publishers Association, and Newtrade Media.
In her spare time Caroline is an arts journalist and theatre critic, spending most evenings either in a theatre, or writing about one!
Caroline is passionate about supporting mental health in the workplace, and is honoured to sit on the EventWell committee, to help promote and support the wellness of event professionals.
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