I have been shaking my head in disbelief for a few weeks now and it is only getting worse. I simply do not understand.
I will start by saying I am grateful and privileged that in the year+ of the pandemic as of this writing, no one in my immediate friends/family have been severely ill from COVID. Combined with continued income, we are blessed. I know others have not been as fortunate and my heart is always aware of this.
I feel it is important to have this perspective before I potentially go off the rails on this “return to normal” nonsense.
So much of pre-pandemic normal was decidedly NOT in any way normal. Not healthy, not sustainable, not enjoyable. Soul crushing commutes in dead-stop traffic. Unrelenting stress in jobs that think everything is a crisis (Like somehow the corporate overhead roles are on the front-line saving babies?). No time to sit, breathe, enjoy your morning coffee. Running to and fro to endless in-person events and commitments. The life according to the martyrdom expectations.
Yes, I have missed in-person gatherings, live music, theater, fine dining, getting on a plane and going new places. I am not suggesting the better path is living a life in lockdown forever. Absolutely not.
Yet with all the pain, loss, depression, fear, and grappling with mortality, there have been many gifts over the last year.
Time to breathe. Less restrictive working arrangements. No over-packed schedules. Less running around. More headspace to self-reflect. Opportunities to try new things and let go of others.
For goodness’ sake, I had time to play with 00 flour dough for 72 hours prior to wanting to make my own pizza. That simply does not happen in the normal course of events. (And believe me, the juice is worth the squeeze on the homemade pizza from scratch.)
Why would you want to go back to an unsustainable way of being and operating?
As I ventured out to my first in-person business event in over 15 months yesterday I found myself stuck in traffic, dodging accidents, and watching people drive like unhinged lunatics. I thought to myself – how sad is it that so many have learned so little.
We are now faced with one of the greatest turning points in our lifetimes. Will we take what we learned – about ourselves, each other, and the world and make wiser choices?
Or will we turn a blind eye and try to recreate a past that was not working in the first place?
Maya Angelou said: “When you know better, do better.”
We can all do better. Live more fully. Love with more abandon. Breathe deeply more often.
As this transition point to “normal” is underway, it is imperative to take time and answer the deeper questions for your business and your life in general.
- What are the gifts you have experienced during pandemic times?
- What new rituals, routines, service offerings, and ways of navigating have you created during this time?
- What things have you missed about pre-pandemic that you truly want to re-engage in? How do you want those experiences to be richer because of having missed them? Do you want more/less/same as you had before?
- What habits, thoughts, behaviors, actions, things do you no longer wish to keep?
- What gifts do you want to protect fiercely and not allow them to get lost in the hustle and busy of going forward?
- What have you learned about yourself and what you truly want? How will this inform and direct your choices now?
Do not turn a deaf ear to your intuitive intelligence, hard-won wisdom, and hearts desires. If the last year + should have taught us anything it is how precious life is and that nothing is the way we really think it is anyway. (Because in January 2020 who among us would have thought it was even possible to shut down the world?)
As organizations and the people within them try to grapple with the discomfort and groundlessness of the past year and this new transition, the answer is not to perpetuate past dysfunction. You cannot try to put the toothpaste back in the tube and pretend that nothing has changed. It takes courage, honesty, and time to choose a wiser, more compassionate path for who you are now, not who you were in 2019.
Take a deep breath. It is okay to feel uncomfortable and “in-between” what was and what is yet to emerge. Give yourself the gift of living with intention and do not fall prey to being swept up into a frantic merge lane in an on-ramp to “let’s get back to normal” that is not going to serve you.