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  • Jenn Johnson

Having COVID-19 helped me find my North Star


How this pandemic affected me personally, and helped me find joy in my work again.


At the end of 2020, I received results that so many of us have painstakingly tried to avoid in the past year: I tested positive for COVID-19. While I wish this diagnosis on no one, I was not only incredibly lucky to walk away from the experience relatively unscathed, I learned a few critical lessons about how to prioritize what’s most important.


Before COVID, I prided myself on being a doer. My clients' problems became my problems. I jumped into the trenches, took on their frustrations, and busied myself taking on challenges that were well outside my area of expertise. I was also overscheduled and sweating the small stuff.



Having COVID forced me to eliminate anything that wasn’t critical. I couldn’t lean into my people-pleasing I-can-do-everything-at-all-times tendencies. Instead, I quickly got clear on how I wanted to spend my time in ways that serve me and my clients.


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I didn’t need to attend every meeting.

Whether you work in the mortgage industry, nonprofit sector, creative agency world, academia, or countless other fields, so many of us find ourselves staring down endless hours of meetings every morning. And yet, so often, only a fraction of the people in the meeting are actually needed. My work has been no exception.


Having COVID required me to establish new boundaries. I got comfortable saying when I thought I wasn’t needed at a meeting and at the same time, empowered clients to make decisions for themselves. So many of us have the knowledge required to make an informed decision; more often, we need to muster the courage to do it. With fewer cooks in the kitchen, we all have more opportunities to step up and make time for what matters most.


I had time to think strategically.

Once I’d cleared my calendar and reduced the daily minutiae that bogged me down in the past, I had time to think about what was most important to me and my business. Like my clients, I’m often pulled in many directions and trying to solve problems for someone else. But to do my best work and grow my business, I need uninterrupted time.



This space allowed me to recognize the gaps in my own game, focus on projects and proposals I didn’t previously make time for, create high-quality content, and set intentions for 2021 with a roadmap for how to execute my vision. I did the best work I’ve done in a long time.


I got really clear on what I do—and what I don’t do.

Speaking of intentions, as I reflected on my vision for The Client Cube and my personal strengths, I realized that saying “no” is as important as saying “yes.” Prior to getting COVID, I took on a few clients that I was hesitant to pass on even though they weren’t in my lane. I’m naturally inclined to say yes and figure things out, but this doesn’t always serve me. I was taking on unnecessary stress when I could have directed these clients to someone who would meet their needs more efficiently.


I am not the perfect solution for everyone, nor do I aspire to be that. Instead, I’m excited and focused on what I do offer: design and marketing that reflects who you are. In 2021, we will be taking on more clients who have this exact need.


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The most common frustration I hear from CEOs in the mortgage industry—and really business owners across industries—is lack of staff or time. My challenge to you is to ask yourself “why?”



If this isn’t you, bravo!


If it is, do you know what’s derailing you? Have you quieted the noise, honed in on what’s important, and simply need someone to take on the work? Whether you’re crystal clear on what you need or you’re looking for guidance to figure out the kind of support that will serve you best, we’re here to help.


The pandemic kicked off a season of blurred boundaries: Kitchen tables have doubled as school desks, Netflix-binging has become a nightly comfort instead of an occasional treat, and Slack notifications chime too early and too late in the day. We have to set our own boundaries and define our priorities.


Today, my days feel more peaceful and more productive. I have more time and more joy. And I’m a strong believer that when you have more joy in your life, you do better work.


I’m grateful that COVID helped me find my North Star again. Don’t wait for a wakeup call to reimagine how you want your life to look. Start right now.



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