The December holiday season including Christmas for my household, was not very much unlike December 2020. The grinch of the Omicron coronavirus variant arrived just in time to steal Christmas. And so, just as we had in 2020, our family of 5 cocooned together this year. We watched movies, played board games, got outdoors and made more memories. No doubt these memories will also include the memory of the COVID-19 pandemic era lockdowns, but I know they will represent so much more to the children of this era, many of who are growing up with only memories of a world in a global pandemic… A world of masked people, an inner circle of family and friends, cashiers behind plexiglass, handwashing at every turn, travel plans on and off again… And in this moment, as we watch COVID-19 infections continuing to rise globally, 2022 seems poised to continue in the vein of 2020 and 2021.

  1. What are we to do with this moment?
  2. So what, if anything, will be different in 2022?
  3. Where to from here?

I have been pondering these questions, pulling on the tools I have from the applied social sciences and human systems dynamics to make sense of this moment. I know that many of us have been cycling through the five stages of the Kübler-Ross grief curve of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance…languishing as we wait to get to the other side of this. In an organizational sense, we are also constantly going through the adapted Kübler-Ross change curve ending in cycles of experimentation and integration, only to do it all over again. As we slide back from acceptance and hope into depression, bargaining, anger and denial, we keep asking: When will this end? It’s a valid question, that if we are honest with ourselves, we have no clear answer for and as 2021 has shown us, holding on to false hope that it’s all over only sets us back. What we do know is that there is no straight line to the other side, and no one knows the end date to living through the pandemic. What we do know, is that we can shift towards deeper meaning-making….the sixth stage of grief and loss that is often forgotten but is the difference that makes all the difference in our experiences through difficult times like these.

  1. What meaning can we make of this era?
  2. So what can we do to have a different experience of 2022, even as we continue to live through the pandemic?
  3. Now what will I do differently to shape the experience I want in 2022?

These and other questions that shift us from anxiety to meaning-making might give us a fresh outlook. It just might allow each of us, individually, as leaders and in the groups and organizations we serve, to think differently and in ways that can help us be and work together differently in 2022, in full awareness that we must continue to adapt to our COVID-19 pandemic reality.

The COVID-19 pandemic season has been a long, cold winter…but no matter how long this winter lasts, spring will come. So for me, as I stand on the threshold between 2021 and 2022, and in the words of John O’Donohue:

“…As the year draws to its end,

We give thanks for the gifts it brought

And how they became inlaid within

Where neither time nor tide can touch them…

We bless this year for all we learned,

For all we loved and lost

And for the quiet way it brought us

Nearer to our invisible destination.”

See you in 2022.