Envisioning a post-pandemic normal is difficult at this point in time. As we hit the one year anniversary of closing WeSpire’s office, I asked our team to share with each other the most positive thing that’s happened to them in these twelve months of otherwise previously unthinkable changes and challenges. The strongest themes that emerged centered on strengthening relationships and friendships, albeit with fewer people. Stories were about more quality time spent with children, siblings or parents and new furry friends that entered lives previously free of any dependents. The second theme was recalibration and evaluation. More appreciation for the simple things in life. A rethinking of what they really wanted out of life and work. The sense that anything can happen, so live life to its fullest now.
I’m itching to travel to see distant friends, family and colleagues, sit inside at a bar on date night, and hug people again. But, as we hit this anniversary, it’s also becoming clear that I don’t want to completely go back to the old normal. I’ve been thinking a lot about how one emerges from this post-pandemic normal and deliberately designs a new routine for work and home. This process is known as life crafting and it’s a relatively well-defined and researched intervention in the field of positive psychology. Life crafting is not just about planning. It’s about envisioning, exploring, and reflecting on what makes you happy, what you stand for, and where you want to go.
The process of life crafting takes time and reflection. I’ve been fortunate to do these exercises as part of retreats and with coaches in the past. In pandemic life, it has been just me reflecting at our kitchen table over a cup of tea as the sun rises in our backyard. Other coaches advise taking a half day “away” to some place that inspires you. The next steps involve taking an “audit” of how you are doing in all of your life departments: health and wellness, mental/emotional/personal growth, family and friends, love and relationships, spiritual connection, career/work, finances, and fun. If you need good materials to guide your thinking, I highly recommend the free resources at The One Thing or this simple “How to” article will get you thinking.
I find the hardest part comes next, especially when the future is still rather murky, which is defining what you want it to look like. It’s the most critical step for three reasons, First, sometimes it’s really hard to know exactly what you want. The best advice I received on this front is that these desires are not set in stone. They can and will change. Just reflect on how you feel right now. Second, this step identifies the gaps between your ideal and your reality so you can figure out how to adjust. But finally, this step forces you to confront some of your own paradigms or limiting beliefs that create that gap.
What’s become clear for my new normal is that I don’t want to travel the 3+ days per week as I did before. I suspect I’m not the only road warrior feeling that way. Some of that travel was very worth it, like a 2-day conference where I could see dozens of people at once. But, travel for 8+ hours in order to have a single meeting for one hour? Yuck. The limiting belief I have to face is that WeSpire’s success hinged on us spending time with our clients and prospective clients in person, even if it was just for an hour. Yes, the pandemic has proven we don’t have to travel to succeed, but relationships are important.
How do we adopt an approach of “mindful” travel? It likely involves a lot more advance planning and coordination between sales and customer success so no trip is just for one meeting. It means setting the default to remote, then using strategic in person meetings on a reasonable cadence and delegating more to a distributed salesforce and doing hybrid sales calls. It will take more, not less effort. But, the benefit on our health, relationships, finances and the environment are worth it.
What is also clear is what I want to keep doing more of, like frequent family dinners, walks with friends, Sunday afternoons spent reading a book, and baking fresh bread. Life will get busier again, but crafting these simple pleasures into it will calm the craziness.
So as you take time to envision your post-pandemic normal, reflect back on the positives of this time. Consider what you don’t miss at all. Then, start to craft what you want your new normal to be.
The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.Bob Moawad