The Summer of Decision

For a year and a half our decision making was curbed by circumstances. There was no need to juggle a social calendar, try to secure a restaurant reservation, or budget for clothes, concerts, sporting events or vacations. Work and homelife sort of blended for the work from home cohort. Those with jobs felt fortunate to have them even if they were unhappy. For the most part, we didn’t question the need to wear masks or socially distance in order to protect ourselves, friends and family.

Now that the world is opening up, we are being confronted with decisions on multiple fronts, and what might be simple for one person can be complicated for another. For example, here in California we were under a mask mandate through June 14 but could go mask free come June 15, if vaccinated. Instead of immediately banishing our masks to the garbage heap, most people are continuing to wear masks indoors (if a recent trip to the local supermarket is any indication). In other states, they’ve been going mask-free for months, seemingly more relaxed about it.

On the work front, big decisions are being made about what it will mean to return to the office by employers and employees alike. It is easy to say we’re not going back to business as usual but far more difficult to determine what that means, as there is no road map for anyone to follow. Even major companies with deep resources like Apple are shifting plans in light of what their competitors are doing because they don’t want to risk the ire of employees. We’re all in the midst of trying to figure out what a hybrid workplace means and how it can be structured to meet the needs of everyone involved.

Employees are feeling newly empowered by a job market with more openings than qualified people to fill them. For some, lockdown gave them time to reassess their personal goals and make a major life change while for others the motivation is less clear cut, more driven by opportunities that haven’t been available for over a year. It is why we are seeing headlines about the great resignation, which means the need to fill existing positions will compete with staffing new jobs because companies are opening up, the other big headline.

On the personal side, there are even more decisions to be made, and not all of them are easy. We want to get together with friends and family, but how do we deal with those who have chosen not to be vaccinated? Do we stick with outdoor gatherings? Are we comfortable with hugs and handshakes or want to continue the elbow bump? We have to be prepared for differences of opinion, not to mention how well we know the person. After a year of sweats, home cooking and DIY projects, are we prepared to give all that up? Some decisions might continue to be restricted because of circumstances. If TSA statistics are any indication, we’re ready to travel, but are vacation destinations ready for us? Some aren’t prepared for crowds and others are still dealing with the pandemic. That means coming up with a Plan B. There are also restaurants asking patrons to be patient because they aren’t fully staffed.

The good thing about making a decision is that it’s pretty easy to fix a bad one. You just have to make another one. Hopefully it’s like riding a bike, the memory muscles will return to help ease us back in.

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