The Year 2021 started with a whimper for most… It was out of pure habit that I visited my local stationer and bought my new calendar diary to transfer my most important dates. I use the blank white pages of my still shiny 2020 diary to take notes while on the phone; okay I also doodle in it quite a bit.

Behind all the angst of the unknown in terms of both the virus and the global economy, January 2021 has been a very different month to that of the previous year – for those of us in South Africa, we couldn’t even celebrate the turning of time with a glass of champagne due to the country’s alcohol ban.

.For those lucky enough to still be employed or able to manage their businesses under #lockdown restrictions there is none of the energy usually associated with the start of a new year. For the many forced to swivel industries, the stress of trying to maintain one’s head above water while still coming up with new business ideas and marketing strategies under a whole new set of operating rules, these new landscapes make no promises and only offer a cool outlook.

I personally have had to reassess my idea of productivity.

Stress and angst are debilitating. Friends and family talk of the mind fugue and the exhaustion being experienced – for me, it feels a little like trying to run underwater, its awfully clumsy, slow and I can’t seem to hear or see ahead too well. While some in my circle try to attribute it to either old age, menopause or a doubling down on bad habits, there is no denying the mass consciousness of fear which grips the world and its a pretty heavy energy right now.

Online marketers are quick to respond to the lag with a million different hacks of how to motivate ourselves, usually accompanied by some slick copy writing which ends with a call to action to pay for your place in their race.


As the head of my family, I have to admit, I am a Do-er.

Pre-pandemic, I was an early riser who stuck to a strict timetable of chores and activities – none scheduled in for my own personal growth as I now recall – but pivotal in bootstrapping my business and ensuring my children would succeed at whatever they set out to do.

I have always believed that if you work hard you will get somewhere. This has proven true for me over the years too. I have had to pull me and my young family out of some pretty desperate places while relocating, job searching and finding a safe abode. And indeed, hard work and personal endeavour saw that I found my feet, set my course and like many, felt ready that finally 2020 was going to be the year it was all going to come together in a glorious succession of work-life-money balance.


The impact of Covid-19 has cut deep on our mental health – but more perhaps more silently. We know what to do if we get the virus but what does one do when you want to run screaming for the hills and you can’t because its lock down. Its a personal battle that we grapple with in the privacy of our four walls.

Faced with the devastation either of our own lives or those around us, finding the meaning of life each morning can become one’s greatest and something only challenge for the day.┬áMy biggest battle has been trying to find the balance between self-care, stress and the motivation to keep putting on my battle gear and heading out to the battlefield.

Difficult economic circumstances make us automatically feel we must become more productive in order to compensate for the gaps. But, for many of us, we are finding instead, the need to take mental health days as a form of self-assigned sick leave… the one’s where in early lock down, it was easier to avoid having to face the worries of the world or our personal lives by sticking our heads under the duvet, especially since we couldn’t move further than our own front door.

Yes, the New Year has been announced, the first pay day of the year has either arrived for you or it was a no show. Instead of beating yourself up about what you should be doing to engender new business, motivate yourself to get out there or do something radically different and amazing, please take a few more moments for self-care.


Our well being must be our first priority. A stressed mind can’t think clearly and no one is sure of the future agenda at this stage. Stop beating yourself up that you should be working and instead do the most self-indulgent thing you can for you. Join that hiking group, the one you’ve been meaning to for the last five years. Sit and watch the Food Channel all day, there in may lie your latent passion. Study the butterflies that come to your garden. Set up a mental self-help support group on Zoom. Find your own personal sweet spot and keep dipping back in there.

Now more than ever we are being challenged by the expectation of always having to be ‘switched on’ in our work-from-home living spaces. Its counterproductive to think you can make any Goliath changes right now.

Instead, take a breath or two, sit quietly by yourself (for at least 1 hour per day or better yet 1 hour in the morning and the afternoon) and really feel your way into this new year.

The world needs you in all your authentic self… not that old office manager persona, as an entrepreneur hotshot, or as a super earning Mom or Dad. No, the world needs real people who can watch the dawn rising from a quiet space in themselves, in order to hear the true voice inside of us. Wait patiently, we have to give this voice the space to emerge, to grow and to flow so that we can reach deep into this new place and replenish in order to go out into this Brave New World.

We shift only when we observe the chasm. Spend time learning your new landscape. This is how we learn to build bridges and roads, the one’s that lead to our future, spoken with the words of our heart.

Mercedes Westbrook is a Momtrepreneur, raising her three children in Cape Town, South Africa. Firehorse Media is her homegrown business of 6 years, offering online support with #contentcreation, #communicationsstrategy, #socialmediamanagement, #publicity, and affordable #Wordpress #websites. Visit for more.