In Oregon, twenty of the 30+ counties are expected to step into Phase One of transitioning out of stay-at-home orders. Bend is part of the first twenty counties. What does that mean to how we will shift as we go about our daily lives?
In Paris and for all of France, on Monday May 11th, restrictions were loosened enabling citizens to go much further than the initial one kilometer radius from their home. The shifting is beginning gradually in many countries around the world, but do we want to go back to where we were and how we lived two months ago? Can we do it better? Can you cultivate a life you enjoy living far better than what you were doing pre-pandemic?
Perhaps your immediate answer is yes, but then you just as quickly state, but I don’t know how. You are not alone. There will be oodles of gurus and experts offering inspiration and ideas and discussions about how to proceed. And no matter who you do or do not turn to, remember to bring your own experience and own temperament along with your unique life priorities with you.
How you choose to reset your world as you begin to step back into work, your community, your relationships – casual and intimate – will be, and must be, unique to you. And let me ease your mind a bit: It won’t necessarily be easy to know quickly what to change, edit, keep or toss. It will take time. However, if you keep exploring your feelings and experiences and observations, you will begin to step toward what you wish to include more of and step away from what you don’t. Your actions will begin to define your reset, so let’s take a look at five areas in your life to examine.
“The really important thing is not to live, but to live well. And to live well meant, along with more enjoyable things in life, to live according to your principles.”—Socrates
Solitude is a prized possession. This is something I heard often from colleagues who were working from home with their kids attending remote learning classes and their spouse attending to their own job as well. Solitude has been difficult to find in the past two months for many people who share their home. However, there is a gem in this experience. Being alone, when it is our choice, can be powerfully restorative, healing and calming. It can also create clarity about our priorities so that we can return to those we love and make better decisions that align with our most sincere priorities.
If you are like me, and live alone, the solitude was deeply appreciated because I had time to think (on some rare days too much), but I honestly had more time than I have ever had as I was not expected to be anywhere – and I loved it 95% of the time. I had time to finish my work and with no commute, just be and contemplate and journal and then just be again. The practice of being fully present was strengthened during these past two months. While by no means am I more than an amateur with such skill, I am more readily able to be self-aware and step back from dwelling or worrying thus elevating the quality of my everyday experience.
I placed this area of our lives first – Life Priorities – because everything that follows falls where it will based on your life priorities. So again, what did you discover about what you truly value and want to continue to or begin to invest in? This part will take time for most of us, but I encourage you to explore what was awoken within you. What you see more clearly? What itched more uncomfortably than expected? What looked incongruent to you? What made you cheer and celebrate?
“There is no knowledge so hard to acquire as the knowledge of how to live this life well and naturally.” —Montaigne
Let me begin by disagreeing with Charles Darwin’s adage that “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Of course, it depends upon how you define “wasting one hour”, but to work, to struggle to put in more time for “more” does not create a life of “more”. It creates a life with very little time to enjoy the one and only life you have been given.
Everyone’s journey of how to live well will be unique to them, but make sure it is indeed your chosen journey and not the world or culture’s that you live within. Make sure you are living as a way of making your way through life rather than working through life.
3. Financial Habits
Whether you are forced to downsize or trim your budget or way or life or have the luxury of choosing to do so, do so. Where is your money going? What are you supporting with what you purchase? What frivolous, unnecessary expenditures are you making or not utilizing? From cutting down on how much you drive to spending less money on travel expenses to scheduling your regular haircut and color eight or ten weeks apart rather than six, every little adjustment in favor of spending in your budget’s favor will add up. And as the savings adds up, you can better support the priorities on your newly refined list.
4. How you go about doing your work
While we may not have enjoyed seeing our colleagues via a video conference call every time, did you discover time was saved by [fill in the blank]? Especially if you are in a position of leadership and have the ability to improve the work environment to improve the quality and step back from the quantity of busy, unnecessary, just-trying-to-fill-the-hours, begin to rethink how your team and you can work best. Often we continue to work the way we always have because doing so won’t ruffle feathers. Well, the feathers have been ruffled. We can thank the pandemic for that. Take the opportunity to strive forward into something better.
5. Communicating boundaries
The federal government and specifically state and local governments mandated social distancing guidelines – six feet apart. The boundaries were set for us. Now, as the mandates are softened and eventually will be no more, continue to communicate what you need to feel comfortable not only for your physical needs but your emotional needs as well. Passive engagement with life reaps no positive rewards especially when it comes to building solid, healthy and respectful relationships. Share clearly, directly and tactfully what you need and where you can bend, but also where you cannot. What was it that actually helped you relax, feel more comfortable, safe, content during this time? Examine those events and apply them forward.
There will be moments when others who are part of your life in some way – maybe small or large, work or personal – will make an assessment about how life must change as a result of what we all have experienced, but do yourself a favor: Just because they want to spend more time with you, want to adjust schedules this way or that, eliminate or add that or this, does not mean you do not have a say. Reflect on #5 again in today’s list and depending upon who is making the decree that makes you squirm a bit, find your voice, set your boundaries, respect that your experience during the past two months matters just as much another individual’s. Let your voice be heard if it will be a group decision. Listen to the ideas and the reasons and then move forward. And if it is a decision that you are the only authority, look inside and trust your voice.
There are nuggets of gold in this unwanted experience. I am confident you can find them and apply them as we move forward. I will and am working to apply the lessons I have learned for myself and the process goes on. Be well and thank you for stopping by TSLL. 🙂