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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people express their excitement about things returning “back to normal.”
But I’ll be honest with you – that’s the last thing I want.
I want our lives to be even better than they were before. I want all of us to collectively move forward, not backward. I want us to take all the lessons we learned when life slowed to a grinding halt, and use them with intention to make our future that much brighter.
I want us to continue to make time for the things that matter instead of getting right back to the things that never really did.
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As life slowly starts returning to “normal,” I invite you to reflect on the things you’ve learned in the past few months and commit to change one thing going forward. There are so many lessons but by picking one thing to do differently, your odds of success increase dramatically.
Here are a few of the major lessons I’ve learned – and how we can do things differently from now on.
1. The little things make a big difference
When life slows down, you tend to notice more. Though we usually miss it, we’re surrounded by so much beauty all the time. My mom opened my eyes to so much of it.
When the pandemic started, my mother moved into our house for a few months and brought her positive spirit with her. Every single morning, she’d go out on a walk and take photos of the beautiful things she saw. Then, without fail, she’d come home and show them to me and my family. Textured bark on trees, snails on the ground, a rainbow, or colorful wildflowers. Her enthusiasm was contagious. She taught me that in the midst of change, we can either find beauty in what life is or complain about what it isn’t. Since then, I’ve appreciated the little things so much more – from my kids’ infectious laughter to a gorgeous sunset to a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Try to keep creating moments of stillness, where you can notice your surroundings and appreciate them.
2. Kindness first
COVID-19 may have rocked our world – but it’s something nearly all of humanity is going through together. I’ve been so impressed and moved by the simple acts of kindness I’ve seen from friends, family, and even strangers on the Internet. When you focus on the good, the good gets better. When you look outside yourself and serve someone else, your problems seem to matter a lot less.
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Of course, kindness goes beyond just giving someone a compliment or writing a thank-you note. Sometimes, kindness means fighting for change and speaking up against injustice.
Make it a point to always be kind. You never know what someone else is going through – especially during these trying times. Be generous on every occasion. I promise you’ll never regret it.
3. You decide how you spend your time (and who you spend it with)
How many times have you said to yourself, “I’m too busy to do this,” or “I wish I had the time to do that”? Here’s the thing: we all have the same 24 hours in a day. But what you do with it is up to you.
During the pandemic, many of us found ourselves with more time. Time to daydream, create, reflect, and plan. But as life starts to pick up speed again, you don’t have to surrender all of that time. Be intentional with the way you plan your day. Think carefully about the things you’ll start doing and the things you’ll stop doing.
Along with that, be careful about who you let back into your circle. Continue to keep your distance from people and relationships that aren’t healthy for you.
You have the ability and power to make decisions in every area of your life. You are responsible for your happiness, your friendships, and your job. If you don’t like them and want to change them — you can.
4. Change is inevitable – embrace it
Don’t resist change. Adapt along with it. The future may seem especially uncertain these days, but honestly, it always has been. When I graduated from college, I went to work for a company I thought was “stable.” A few years later, it went bankrupt. The only certainty is uncertainty. Plan for the future as best as you know how, but be flexible when things don’t turn out the way you’d expected. Look at change as an opportunity, not an obstacle.
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This is especially relevant if you have a business that’s had to pivot during COVID-19. If the things you used to do aren’t working, this is a good time to pivot your business. Use this time to try new things and experiment. Not everything you try out will work. And that’s okay. It may take multiple attempts to figure out what works for you. There has never been a better time to try something new. Resisting change halts progress – embracing change stimulates growth.
5. The most important things in life aren’t things
I know so many parents who have spent more time with their kids and family than ever before due to the pandemic. I’ve been traveling extensively for the last 20 years, and I like to look at these last 3 months in quarantine as a gift.
Life isn’t about work or money or even success. In the end, relationships are truly what matters most. As life starts to get busier, make sure you’re devoting time to what’s most important. Give your family, friends, and loved ones the gift of your time. Love your family (and yourself) enough to say no to things that aren’t a priority. Be intentional about your relationships and invest the time to nurture them.
As our lives start to pick up again, I hope we can all be intentional about the ways we spend our time and the things we choose to focus on.
Instead of going back to normal, let’s move forward together.
What lessons has this unprecedented time taught you? How are you planning on changing your perspective or your habits as life starts picking back up again?