As we work our way through the limitations, restrictions and changes to work and life because of COVID-19, and glimpses of life post-COVID-19 start to appear, I have some advice for you: don’t rush to get back to normal.
If you take the time to stop and notice, I bet there were many things about your “normal” that you disliked, dreaded or didn’t make sense, but you did them anyway. You have the chance to redefine what belongs in your new reality. Make it count. Make it better.
Kevin Sneader, a Global Managing Partner at McKinsey and Company, shared this when thinking about the post-COVID-19 period, “It will be critical to reconstruct for the future, not solve for the problems of the past.”
Don’t try to create an improved Normal 1.0. Instead, imagine, investigate, choose and build Normal 2.0 – something (way) better.
Sure, it sounds great, but how do you start? Where do you start? Let me share something I ask my coaching clients to consider when they are stuck trying to move forward. Let’s say you are walking along the beach and something tucked behind the rocks catches your eye. You go over to it and realize it is a weathered old lamp. You rub it to clean it off so you can see what it is and to your surprise, a genie appears. The genie says you can have anything you want in your post-COVID-19 life, but …you can only wish for only one thing.
What would you wish for?
Do you wish things would go back to normal, to what’s comfortable, expected and usual? Or do you get excited about options and opportunities that are possible that may not have been several months ago?
Here is a personal example. For almost 20 years, I traveled nearly 60% of every year. It sounds like a lot, and it is. Though I love the work, I could do without the travel. It’s something I’ve said frequently to family and friends, but never explored any other option to keep doing the work I love without the parts I didn’t enjoy as much. My clients always requested my physical presence to meet in-person with the executives or teams I worked with, so I just accepted this as part of the job.
So, my genie experience would be to be able to make my organization’s impact about leadership, share our mindful approach to work and life, and amplify our personal potential without getting on a plane.
As a result of COVID-19, my clients and other organizations are seeing that they can have my programs, coaching and support without the expenses of travel, the rigidity of organizational meetings and the difficulty of managing schedules. Instead, with my new approach, the materials are flexible, and group sessions are recorded when delivered so they can be available for anyone’s schedule and can be personalized by follow up calls, coaching and mastermind groups. It’s better – for me and for them. It took COVID-19 to interrupt “normal” to create the space for “something-better.”
You’ve been given a great opportunity to redefine the direction of your life. So, take the chance. Rub the lamp.
Here are some questions to consider:
- When you look at your current work and life, what works great about it that you would want it or more to continue post-COVID?
- When you stop and notice your current work and life, what’s not working that needs to be improved or discontinued post-COVID?
- What could your post-COVID world include?
Invent. Imagine. Rethink. Consider. These are words that remind you to come up with ideas, and from your ideas, choose the best one. However, if the only ideas you have look like what you are always do, you will waste this difficult but productive interruption.
If you can’t imagine it, you won’t do it. If you can see what about your pre-COVID-19 world didn’t serve you, you won’t improve it. If you can’t commit to rubbing the lamp and inventing a vision of something better in work, life, relationships, the planet, your spending, your health, your leisure time, your education, your savings – you fill in the opportunity – you will miss this moment of opportunity to challenge what is in favor of something better.
So, now what?
Rub the lamp. Dream big. Then, if necessary, scale it back but keep focused on what you want to have happen based on how the world is changing. Start the same conversation with your colleagues about how your work and workplace could be. Start the same conversation with your family and friends about how your relationships and lives could be. Imagine. Invent. Then go act.
The only silver lining I can see in COVID-19 is that it gave each of us a reset – an opportunity to rethink and reinvent. Though I hope we never get this kind of global reset again, I see this as a gift. Use it well. Don’t just look to fix the old normal’s problems. Instead, invent something new and better everywhere. Look back on this period as a time when you used its opportunity to come out better, wiser and greater.