It’s been un-mistakenly obvious in the last few weeks that people in many walks of life have had it with the pandemic. I’ve heard it from clients, friends and casual acquaintances. It takes different forms, but typically comes down to frustration mixed with a feeling of helplessness. When the infection numbers were trending down and states were moving toward opening up there was a sense of optimism. But, recently, when separate sets of friends and clients have had to cancel trips because Maryland was suddenly on the “traveling pariah” list, meaning they couldn’t take their planned trips, well, that optimism faded pretty rapidly.
The cold, dark reality is that though we may be ready to leave the pandemic, it isn’t ready to leave us. So, it’s time to adjust. Yet again. Following are a few tried and true methods of adjusting that can help you get through this troubling time.
• Instill Discipline—No, I’m not talking about the kind a drill sergeant or brutal football coach instills. Instead, I’m talking about the kind you instill in yourself vis-à-vis working from home, looking for a job, etc. It may seem counterintuitive, but we are seeing the entire concept of work/life balance turned on its head during the pandemic. More times than I can remember, I’ve had conversations with friends and clients over the past few weeks in which they lament the fact that they are always working. Since they are “working from home,” there is no delineating their start and stop time. They turn on the computer or their phone first thing in the morning and it’s a constant the rest of the day. Well, that’s on them, as much as it’s on their clients and colleagues, and it’s a pretty easy fix. Think about what you did pre-pandemic. If you left the office at 6:30 and didn’t check your email until the next morning, it’s as simple as shutting down now at 6:30 and not checking your email until the next morning. If you always took a vacation in August, then take one in August this year. Right, you can’t go anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have to work! Take a week off from work or from looking for a job. Do it! Discipline yourself to get away. Draw boundaries and stick to them.
• Set Personal/Professional Goals—One of the most difficult things about this pandemic is that we don’t know when it will end. My friend, let’s call him “David,” likes to participate in crazy events. His latest is an event where the participants run four mile segments each hour until, one by one, they drop out, until only one is left standing. That last person is deemed the winner, though I might call her/him something else. But the key point is that the participants don’t know how long the event will last. It’s really hard to train for an event like that, but the best way seems to be to set interim training goals and to keep achieving them. I believe the same method works well in the current environment. Since you can’t control the pandemic or the country’s response to it, focus on what you can control. Your interim goals can be personal, say, cleaning out six closets or riding your bike 100 miles in a month. Or, they can be work-oriented. Learn a new skill by taking an online course or write a paper on a topic that can accelerate your career. Or, help three colleagues to achieve goals that they desire.
• Be Kind to Yourself and to Others—I’ve noted in previous posts that demonstrating gratitude is one of the key indicators of happiness. And, while that’s a well-documented fact, I worry that some folks interpret that to mean that if they are generally better off than others they are somehow not allowed to grieve the loss of freedom caused by the pandemic. Just because you are most certainly in the lucky group during this time doesn’t mean that your feeling of loss for your family vacation, your marathon or your boys/girls weekend getaway isn’t real. It’s okay to own that loss and to verbalize it. It goes without saying that context and perspective are key, but suppressing those feelings isn’t healthy either.
Bruce Springsteen famously sings, “someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.” I doubt that will happen in this case, so I’ll change one word: “someday we’ll look back on this and it will all be history.” Stay safe out there.SHARE: