It is tempting — and natural — to look at past behavior as a guide for what will happen next. Professionals pour over data to ascertain trends, scientists make predictions based on replication of experiments, and businesses rely on cyclical behavior to guide ordering. That all makes sense when behavior follows a standard pattern but as we enter a post-pandemic era everyone is grappling with fundamental shifts in how the world works.

It’s no longer reliable to use historical information as a guide for the future. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said: “This is an extraordinarily unusual time. And we really don’t have a template or any experience of a situation like this. We have to be humble about our ability to understand the data.”

Taking circumstances into account is a wise strategy at any time, but even more important in this time of transition. Don’t just block out your 2020 data and act as if everything will return to 2019 levels. We’ve been given a rare opportunity to start a new page of data collection, allowing you to consider what metrics are important to attain and what to measure. What opportunity have the shifts in behavior created (or could) and how can you chart a new trajectory toward success? The path is yours to define with the future unburdened by the past.

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