2020 is going to be a special year in many ways… There will be highs and lows…
I concluded my blog on goal setting with these words as the year began. Little did I know what would transpire and where we would find ourselves in the summer.
The restrictions around COVID have changed life for everyone and plans have been altered or put on hold completely. As we struggle to return to normality in August, it’s worth taking time to consider how we have been blown off course and where we have drifted to.
This is particularly true for politicians and candidates who find themselves six months closer to the next election with as much or even more to do.
It’s time to brush off those goals we set and revisit the six categories that I laid out as the year opened:
Your physical health is your greatest asset – as the COVID crisis has reminded us.
There seem to be lots of people on line who have set a fine example with their Lockdown diets and exercise regimes. But for many of us the experience has been less uplifting. With little to enjoy beyond food, drink and sedentary activities and restrictions on travel and going out, a lot of people will be less fit than they were in February.
For candidates, good physical health is particularly important because fighting campaigns can be a long grind. You also need to look your best at selection interviews so now is a good time to get back to the gym, control your diet and shed some pounds.
Having more money removes limits on your personal choices so whilst maybe not an end in itself, it can only help.
The Lockdown has had widely different effects on people financially. For some, with their incomes covered by furlough money and less to spend on, the period has actually enabled some saving. Banks and building societies have reported that people are putting more away for future. But if you are self employed and outside the furlough net or if you have lost your job, the financial picture could be catastrophic.
For candidates, financial security is very important. Some years ago, Conservative Home estimated that contesting a seat in Parliament cost each candidate an average of £40,000 in travel, accommodation and lost earnings. This sum is unlikely to get any less so candidates may need to urgently assess their resources and take steps to replenish them.
Career targets tend to be longer term, so whilst COVID will have put them back for many people there will be opportunities to catch up. For those who are able to work remotely, the Lockdown might even have provided an opportunity to progress. Nevertheless, with companies announcing job losses every day, options are likely to be more limited in the recovery period.
Time in Lockdown has also given people the opportunity to reassess their career priorities. Do you want to keep doing the same thing? Is returning to commuting an attractive option? Or is it time to make a break and try something new? In the current climate you should take time to plan ahead before contemplating career changes.
Relationships will have really suffered during Lockdown. A lot of people have lost contact in recent months.
For would be politicians, good networking is absolutely vital – so now is the time to get out there and re-establish the links and contacts you were building before the crisis hit. Campaigning for the delayed London elections is getting started again, so get involved!
Good politicians never stop learning. There’s always something you need to know about.
Lockdown has provided an opportunity for people to learn new skills on line and many have taken it up. For candidates it is particularly important to consider where your skills gaps lie and how you will bridge them before the next election and the selection round that will precede it.
One skill you may have acquired is communication via video conferencing. Many political meetings have taken place remotely and I even found myself delivering a 20 minute speech from my own home, via the camera on my laptop. It’s an unusual experience, not least because you can’t see your audience or judge their reactions. You also can’t warm them up easily because they won’t see one another’s reactions either. So in many ways it is more akin to broadcasting or video blogging – you might have a very useful new skill to add to your political armoury.
Those experiences you were planning for the coming year will have been put off. It’s time to reassess their importance and decide when and how you will do them.
For candidates, some experiences can be very useful as a way to illustrate your skills on the application form or at the hustings, so you should prioritise them as time is running by.
As always I’m available to help with goal resetting face to face or on line, so do contact me.
And my friends at Barndoor Strategy are now running a network for Tory Candidates to gain skills, build useful contacts and swap best practice. We look forward to working with you as we set out on the long road to recovery.