Here I thought I had 2020 all mapped out, with trips, family visits, and conferences – but life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.
Given the rapidly changing developments of the past week, we can safely assume that our lives will not quite be the same when the pandemic is over. I don’t mean that in a pessimistic sense – times of upheaval are cathartic and remind us of the things that matter. Now that we’ve all heard the health warnings, bought food and more or less accepted the fact that we’ll be cooped up for much longer than we’d like, there is the obvious question – what’s next? I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the past days. When I consider recent years, I realize that my life–and perhaps yours too–kept accelerating. My clients frequently expressed frustration about getting so little done while time seemed to go by ever faster. Many talked about the projects they would address when ‘things calmed down,’ but somehow that never happened, and life got crazier. And now we are sitting in separate homes, and it’s eerily quiet outside. The abrupt halt the pandemic has imposed on everyone is of course frightening, but also represents an opportunity to reassess that busy life.
“The food you have stockpiled matters way less than the strength of your community. Individuals don't survive disasters, groups do,” my son wrote a few days ago. He lives and works in Rwanda, where the government just closed down all public gatherings. Most likely, you spent more time than usual contacting people you care about this week. Perhaps you checked in with neighbors and old friends, phoned parents, and got in touch with other family members. The people we sought out and supported in past days are the fabric of our lives. The images of Italian people making music on their balconies are a reminder that neighborhoods and communities can only thrive together, and that this togetherness requires everyone’s time.
“I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me,” is the most common regret people express at the end of their lives. In the sudden stillness of our house, I have had time to think about that as well. Am I living according to my values, and what truly matters to me? What can I change to offer value to others?
As circumstances force us to use time differently, there are opportunities as well. Here is our chance to finally pull out those wonderful ideas that never went anywhere because there was no time. Getting reengaged with a larger project, e.g. a new website, a blog, or a long-forgotten inspiration to develop something new offers many benefits now. It will calm and focus your mind, you will be ready to respond when business picks up (which it will), and the insights you now have will improve your existing products/service. So, what will you work on, and if not now, when?
I am offering a free daily conversation on “Staying productive in the chaos” to help freelancers and small business owners getting things done in these unsettling times. E-mail me, or text 518-572-3531 to join.