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Time To Move Onward and Upward

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There I was on Tuesday December 29, with only three days left to go in 2020. But 2020 wasn’t done with me yet.

At store number two, we had lost our lead tech to cancer a month prior. We had two techs left, an older A tech and a younger B/C tech and by Tuesday afternoon both of them were also out with medical issues (neither COVID-related). What are the odds?! We pulled a tech from another store to help finish up at store number two, and made the decision to close for the remainder of New Year’s week. 2020 was just a tough year—no two ways about it.

I remember thinking how glad I would be to have 2020 over with, but also realizing that nothing magic was likely to happen on Jan 1, 2021. It’s just another day after all. But the New Year is symbolic, a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.

I’ve kept a journal for over 10 years now. I don’t often look at past entries. For me, the act of writing down my thoughts has been very helpful for processing issues, getting focused, and staying grateful in the present. We live in the present, after all. I was pleasantly surprised to look and see that my January 1st 2020 goals were not all failed—quite the opposite. I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but if you’re really pushing yourself, you never do anyways. If 2020 was, in fact, one of the hardest years in recent memory, then I am even more grateful to be in the automotive industry. A service deemed necessary by the world and filled with some of the best people I know.

I also reread my January 2020 online column. I had no way to know what was coming, but my thoughts there still seem relevant as we begin this new year, 2021. Change is inevitable. I shared a story of losing a shop when old two bay gas station service bays were being turned into convenience stores. We can remember the transition into OBD2 diagnostics, Right to Repair, GDI, hybrid vehicles, engaging customers through social media and messaging, there are so many challenges we’ve faced and overcome.

In my personal and business challenges I’ve experienced a few phenomena. One is what I call "the 10 second window"—the seconds before your life changes, and then immediately after. A car accident is a good example. One second you’re driving along, the next you’re never driving that car again and maybe you’ve experienced an injury. Or maybe one second your newest tech is changing oil and the next you have a blown engine on your hands.

Time doesn’t move in reverse, unfortunately. We have to move forward. Another feeling I’ve had goes something like this, “I knew there would be challenges, but not THIS!” COVID falls more into that second category. There wasn’t a 10 second window, but I can say for sure that this was not the challenge any of us expected to face. But we did. And like it or not, I know it was a lesson in how to pivot your business. The very definition of adjusting to consumer needs and FAST. If this year goes how I think it will, we may need to pivot again to handling a large influx of business as more and more people get back to work and school and need their cars serviced. A good problem to have, but still a problem.

If you’re feeling ambivalent about 2021 so far, you’re not alone. Maybe you’ve never given journaling a try. If not, a great place to start is writing down three things that you are grateful for. If you write in the morning, you can write three things that will make your day great and or if it’s the evening, three things that made your day great. Beyond that, there is something powerful about writing your goals down.

Today I am grateful for my home and family, my health, and new business opportunities. My goals for 2021 are to welcome my second child into the world next month, renovate one of my shops, and otherwise stay out of trouble! What are your goals this year?

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