This strange reality we are living in these days has caused many of us to have what I'm calling The COVID Fog.
If you find yourself asking questions like:
You are infected with The COVID Fog.
It's like March never ended as the days blended into a stay-at-home routine. So let's acknowledge it and name it. Today is officially March 173rd.
Humans have evolved to grow and learn, and it's deflating for us mentally, physically, and emotionally to be uncertain and play the waiting game. We can handle a temporary holding pattern, but when it lasts months and has stress and doubt piled on top of it, our resilience suffers.
Physically, the Quarantine 15 is real, as we face a convenient refrigerator and the closure of our gyms.
Mentally and emotionally, we've been on a roller coaster. People are facing lost jobs, furloughs, increased workloads, a difficult business environment, and a general sense of uncertainty about what is coming next.
Now doesn't that sound like a recipe for anxiety?
But enough of that. It's time to face the new reality. We cannot continue to just fly a holding pattern anymore. Too much time is passing by and life is a fleeting enough.
It's time to set revised goals, take an accurate assessment of where we are right now, and create a plan to move forward.
Madeline Blanchard said it beautifully
“The world changed for all of us in the first quarter of this year. All of the plans we had in place for 2020 were disrupted as the coronavirus spread around the world. Our well-thought-out goals to grow and develop were quickly set aside as we switched gears to simply get through the day. We all became agile, adaptive, and reactive, changing strategies as the situation demanded.
“Now that we have a better sense of what we are up against, that this will be a marathon and not a sprint, we need to take a look at where we stand. What are our goals for moving forward into the next 18 months?”
In my post last week, I laid out a process to set goals. It's a good process, but not very COVID-world friendly. After all, what good is a bucket list item to explore Barcelona when leisure travel to Europe is highly discouraged? So I wanted to put out there a slightly revised version.
Development, whether personal or leadership, is an inside-out process. So we have to start within.
This pandemic world has put a lot of pressure on us and when pressure is applied, cracks form. It's likely that our less desirable traits, the ones that we've been working on SO HARD, have resurfaced. I'm not talking about overeating and binge watching TV shows. I'm talking about more insidious things... like the need to control, the need to judge, avoid difficult conversations or make snap decisions. Now is the time to pay attention and make sure those gems don't start running the show.
It's time to look at yourself over the last few months and notice these behaviors. Hey, we've needed coping mechanisms, but it's time to move forward. If one of these is getting the best of you, seek support from a friend, family member, even a coach. Frankly, I got a dog.
I'm a planner and I love to execute to a clear plan. Throw in a world pandemic and I can't plan for next week, as the rules seem to change that quickly. So I got a dog. She is my mental health practitioner that sheds all over. Between petting and snuggling, and the three walks a day we take together, my (occasionally) obsessive need to plan has been curbed. Just in case this sounds like a good plan (ha!) to you, here is a link to a great shelter in SE Michigan where you can adopt a furry psychologist.
After taking stock, look at what you wanted to happen in 2020! What did the eager, January 1st you look forward to this year?
Then the harder part. You have to decide which part of your vision for 2020 and yourself is most significant right now. This is the perfect time to do some purpose work, and a good place to start is with Simon Sinek's Start with Why TED talk.
Now it's time to turn vision into action.
Ask yourself, "What is the very first thing I can do to dip my toe into the waters of the vision I want?"
Think very manageable, and doable so we can build a platform of success. Want to be more physically fit? Set a task to do 15 squats while your coffee is brewing or something is heating up in the microwave. Want to clear the air with a pesky coworker? Set up a meeting and download my guide.
Whatever it is, the important thing is to start. Right now. In the middle of COVID 19. The uncertainty isn't going to go away any time soon, so let's control the things we can. And that is our thoughts, feelings and actions.
As Abraham Maslow once said, “You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” We've been in safety too long, it's time to get growing.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: This is the first time in history we can save the human race by lying in front of the TV and doing nothing. Let's not screw this up!