Welcome back from our annual holiday hibernation! It’s about this time every year that organizations shake off the six weeks of family, fun, downtime and distractions and realize that they have to get back to work. 

We finally turn our attention to the new year and the opportunities and challenges ahead. And 2022 is packed with both! For the next few weeks, we’re going to look at some of the trends that I believe are going to affect our business the most over the next 12-18 months and how we can take full advantage of them.

January always calls us to look at the patterns of the past and predict what will change in the coming months. Trend reports are plentiful this time of year! But I’m not sure, in our lifetime, we’ve ever been caught up in the tidal wave that we’re in now. The forces of the past are now bigger and carry more impact than in any other era and are going to bring about even more significant shifts.

There’s not a person on the planet who will not look back on 2020 and 2021 and marvel at what we survived. For most of us, it was the most unpredictable, volatile 21-plus months in our memory. But if we look at history, there’s some pretty interesting foreshadowing for what 2022 will bring as a result.

The Renaissance period followed the bubonic plague. The Roaring ’20s were born from the Spanish flu. As we emerge from the COVID crisis, our own version of the Roaring ’20s is upon us. The historical cycles are too plentiful not to expect the same. (I highly recommend the book “The Fourth Turning” by William Strauss if this topic fascinates you.)

When humans experience a major crisis that forces us, even temporarily, to reinvent how we survive and function, it changes us forever. As we emerge on the other side, we are no longer who we were when we entered the crisis. We rethink everything, question our priorities and redefine how our world is around us.

Some of what we created to survive remains. Some of it evolves, and some of it taught us to abandon what we once pursued. There’s no doubt that coming out of the pandemic, we’re heading from a period of crisis into a period of chaos. But, as most of us have heard before thanks to a famous John F. Kennedy speech, the Chinese word for crisis is weiji. Wei means danger and ji means opportunity or change point.

2022 is going to be all of that and more.

I believe that our readiness is critical right now. Many of these trends have already begun to form and take shape. Others are still emerging. But the change is inevitable. The only thing in question is – are we ready? 

We can stand waist deep in the water and be hit from behind by the waves and potentially be knocked down. Or we can face the waves, anticipating their arrival, and take advantage of the power of the wave as it carries us in new directions.

The waves are what they are. We don’t get to control the tides or manage the size of the waves. They are a force much greater than our ability to contain or manipulate them. Our readiness and our willingness to face the tidal shifts and take them for a ride are the only variables we get to control.

In the coming columns, we’ll examine six trends that are going to sweep us through 2022 and beyond and how we can best see them, time the ride, and make sure we end up where we want to be.