We are all looking toward a newer, freer life as the worst of the pandemic recedes in the United States.
But deep inside, there are probably a few things we dread about going back to “normal” life.
Each of us, if we are brutally honest, could probably make a list of the activities and relationships that we didn’t like in pre-pandemic times, but that we accepted through self-deception, sheer inertia, and the pressure to go along and get along.
In this article, the author suggests that we have a one-in-a-lifetime chance to change our lives to a new “normal” and how we can make a plan not to return to the way things were. Here is his step by step guide:
1. COLLECT YOUR DATA.
On a piece of paper, draw a two-by-two matrix, where the columns are what you like and dislike, and the rows are pre-pandemic and pandemic times. Many of us have taken to asking each other, over the past year or so, what we miss from before the pandemic and hate about living through it. But for your happiness, the more germane questions are “What did I dislike from before the pandemic and don’t miss?” and “What do I like from the pandemic times that I will miss?” Don’t settle for the easy stuff, like being stuck in traffic. Go deeper, like the friends you always went for drinks with who were relentlessly snarky and negative.
2. MAKE A LIST OF THINGS TO LEAVE BEHIND.
Some of the things you disliked before the pandemic might be unchangeable. Start a list of these things, and think carefully about whether you might have more agency than you assumed. While not possible for everyone, for some it might make sense to start looking for a new job or a new job.
Leaving people behind can be trickier. But in truth, we all have relationships that are simply not mutually beneficial. At work and elsewhere, there are people who bring out the worst in us, belittle us, or just bring us down. If the pandemic has been a welcome furlough from these relationships, you should ask yourself whether you can make that break permanent. This moment is the best chance you might ever have to do so.
3. MAKE A LIST OF WHAT TO KEEP.
This exercise shouldn’t be all negative. Remember things you like about your pandemic life and will miss when they stop. Consider how you might work them into your life after case numbers drop for good. Perhaps you stopped traveling for work and found life at home sweet. If so, start thinking now about how to re-engineer your job to include fewer trips, setting up a mix of in-person and virtual meetings for the future that’s more to your liking. Maybe you developed your spiritual life, read a lot, or started cooking, and wish these practices could continue. They can—but only if you do the work. Join a house of worship; organize a book club; put dates on the calendar to host people for dinner.
How are you reacting to re-emerging? Is it different than you expected?
Have you made any changes in your daily life to create a “new” normal for you?
Let us know!
With love and light,