By now, most of us have settled into ‘the new normal’ of ‘pandemic life’ – so, it could be a good time to take stock of where you are, and what you have accomplished within the current context. And time to celebrate getting through, thus far.
After a period of lockdown and pressing the pause button, things are gradually moving forward, although our working life and daily living have changed since the Covid-19 pandemic – as have we, too. In returning to work and seeing our children go back at school, we might still be adjusting to this new way of living and working, so it is opportune to look back, take stock, review and, yes – even celebrate, as we go forward.
We often use the end of a year to take stock, and I have previously explored ways to reflect, celebrate and plan. But in these exceptional times, now seems as good a time as any to review where we are. Society has changed, and we have responded accordingly – often in new and resourceful ways.
Looking at the positive outcomes, the roll-out and take-up of certain emerging innovations and trends have been accelerated. Society has been forced to experiment and in practice in real time. How well have you managed? For example:
There has been increased home-working and agile working. In order to maintain the economy and most employment functions, many organisations allowed staff to work from home, wherever this was possible. This has meant staff – and you – setting up their own workspaces and managing their own time. Despite the reluctance of many employers to relinquish a ‘command and control’ kind of management, this change was forced upon them by recent circumstances. And, to leaders’ sometimes great surprise, most staff rose to the challenge – and worked productively and effectively, even without the close oversight their employers presumed they needed. Staff appreciated the opportunity to work from home, cutting out travel time and expenses, and many enjoyed the greater autonomy and independence it gave them. It has been a lesson in trusting staff to be responsible and manage their time. Some organisations may even maintain this way of working when restrictions are completely lifted – saving on the cost of office premises and resources.
- What adjustments have you made to working more flexibly?
- What challenges have you overcome? E.g. childcare, home-schooling, sharing space with family 24/7, communications.
- What outcomes and learning have there been for you?
- What opportunities and benefits have there been?
There has been wider digitisation and use of IT. More people – especially older people – are now confidently using IT, mobile apps and video-conferencing: from grandma learning how to Facetime the family, to choirs using Zoom; from neighbours setting up community pages on Facebook to trainers devising web-based courses; from video-conferenced team meetings and job interviews to 3D-printing of essential medical equipment. Despite less physical contact and communication – there has been a rapid and pervasive rise in digital communication and wider use of technology to deliver solutions to pandemic-related problems.
- How has your use of technology changed?
- What new things have you – or your family – learned?
- What skills have you or your community developed?
There has been less use of physical money and more card and online purchasing. With shops shut for weeks at a time for all but essential items, and people’s attitudes to money changing, your spending patterns and habits, or leisure pursuits and priorities may well have changed. And if you sell products or services – you have probably had to adapt your marketing and sales processes, too.
- How has your spending changed? Are you spending more, or less – and on what?
- Have your shopping habits changed? Do you shop more online? Less as a leisure activity?
- Have your sales or fundraising methods changed? In what ways?
There has been more emphasis on healthcare and self-care. Naturally, with a global health scare, everyone is more mindful of taking care of their health, through better hygiene and safety measures, good nutrition, physical exercise and positive mental wellbeing. We have been reminded of the need to take care of our mental health – especially in the context of increased social isolation and the lack of socialising, human touch or contact. Homeworking has meant, at times, a blurring of boundaries, and the need for greater consciousness in achieving work-life balance, through self-care and mindful activities like meditation, yoga, and walks in nature.
- In what ways have you taken care of your health?
- Which self-care practices have you followed?
- How is your work-life balance now?
- What will you take forward?
We have survived a global crisis. Without minimising the tragedies people have suffered through this time, the fact that you are reading this means that you have survived thus far. Even if it’s just that you’ve managed to endure several weeks of lockdown with your irritating partner or closest family, 24/7! You have done all the right things. While the crisis may not be over yet, and there will likely be other challenges in future – we are all growing better at crisis management. You have adapted and adjusted to changing circumstances – whether that’s been Zooming while supervising a toddler, coping with toilet paper and flour shortages, sourcing face-masks, managing to pay the rent, or running an organisation as if it’s ‘business as usual’.
- What difficulties have you handled well? And how?
- What skills, strengths and qualities enabled you to do this? E.g. baking, humour, emotional resilience…
- What resources and learnings will you take forward, into the future?
You have achieved. Overall, looking back over the months since the pandemic hit, you will have achieved more than you think. Whether it’s been managing to teach your kids Maths, keep your temper, stay married, pay your bills, take time to relax or evaluate your priorities, or keep in touch with friends. Perhaps you have managed to keep your services or business running – maybe even gained more contracts or clients, or increased income.
- What positive changes have you made to your life, work or other activities?
- Make a list of your accomplishments, however small or large – at work, at home, and in the community.
- What are you proud of?
For some further suggestions on reflection on your achievements over the last few months, read one of my previous posts on looking back.
You might have thought there had been little cause for celebration recently, but I hope that reflecting on all you have achieved through this time has highlighted the good things that have come out of this experience – whether at work, or in your home life. Recognise the achievements you listed above, and find a way to celebrate them – privately or with others.
- You have stayed (relatively) sane: either surrounded by your kids – or living alone. Celebrate!
- You have enjoyed your time at home. Recognise this, and mark the fact.
- You have de-cluttered or decorated your house, or taken up new hobbies. Celebrate your achievements!
- You have learned new things about yourself – e.g. that you can concentrate on work at home, handle multiple priorities, or enjoy your teenager’s company. Celebrate – have a party!
Your resilience and capabilities have got you through – and you have accomplished more than you believed possible.
It is important to recognise your strengths, skills, abilities and achievements in all domains of your life – whether at work, home or in society, and acknowledge them. Whether your achievements have been physical, mental, emotional, social, economic/financial, creative, practical or academic, remember to mark your accomplishments with some kind of celebration. So, your bread wasn’t as good as the artisan baker’s – but you tried! Congratulate yourself on stepping out of your comfort zone.
Whether you have achieved big or small – celebrate in some way:
- toast yourself with a glass of wine or indulge a kid/spouse-free 30 minutes for uninterrupted reading or podcast listening (even if locked in the bathroom)
- buy yourself a take away dinner (supporting a local business) or donate to your favorite charity
- have a celebratory dinner or party
- encourage your friends and family to reflect on their successes and share tips and funniest moments
- add things to your CV or LinkedIn profile – ‘self-starter’, ‘crisis management,’ etc.
Give yourself a pat on the back and simply feel proud of yourself – or check out Self-care and Leading with Resilience for additional tips.
There has been much to endure, and yet, here we are – with much to celebrate. Even in our personal circumstances our crisis management and resilience are transferable skills for the workplace and valuable strategic leadership capabilities for the future.
What is important is to commit the time for taking stock, reflecting and congratulating your whole self – as a sound basis for future planning and action. It is not a luxury – it is a necessity.
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