As we look in anticipation towards a future that returns us to ‘normality’, it’s the perfect moment to ask whether that normality is as good as it can be. Covid has meant a year of restriction and compromise. What a pity it would be were we to go back to different, just more familiar, compromises. We are at a crossroads and we each have a choice as to which way we go.
Life has a habit of sweeping us along with it. It is easy to lose sight of what is individually really important along the way. As women, we are programmed to care for others and to make sure their needs are met. Admirable of course, maybe even essential at certain times, but often those default behaviours continue long after they truly necessary. This can lead to underlying frustrations, a sense of unfulfillment and a life that far too quickly slips by.
Defining moments often cause us to rethink. The last year did exactly that. It has taught us how very precious life is. We owe it to ourselves to take the opportunity we are now being offered: what is the right road to take from here? A return to the status quo, an updated version, or a completely different path? What do we need to do to make the one life we have better than before?
Simple questions but in fact they are anything but. Don’t be surprised if you encounter some resistance along the way. It is common to uncover some hidden beliefs that you may not even know you had. I often hear women say that it feels selfish or self-indulgent to think about themselves and their life is this way. Don’t be afraid to question those underlying responses.
Others can find it incredibly challenging as they realise that a sense of responsibility or expectation, usually instilled by someone else, has been their driving force and the basis on which they have hitherto made the key decisions in their lives. We are all conditioned to live our life in a certain way. We often make choices that, if we were truly honest, are not our own. Stepping beyond this takes determination, effort and courage. If we can access OUR truth, no matter how scary, the reward is a more authentic, purposeful life.
What really matters to you
What is appropriate for now will be different for everyone. For some, the time will feel right to address the bigger questions and make more far-reaching changes. For others there may be smaller ones that will boost our happiness sufficiently. It may be a mixture of the two. Speaking personally, I know there are lots of small things that I can easily add to my post-covid routine that will really make a difference to my wellbeing and quality of life. A daily walk, quality time with friends, putting boundaries around my working day, and taking time out of my schedule to spend on personal development are all on the priority list. Little things count for a lot.
At the same time, I know that what truly excites me and scares me in equal measure is the desire for bigger change that has been ignited during the last year. I can see that the strength of feeling is simply an indication of the importance of the task in hand and the possibility it offers. I need to use the fear as a motivator and not allow it to persuade me to take the easy way out. Watch out that you too are as honest with yourself as you can be.
When going through any change process, the way we see ourselves is critical. Our ‘self-concept‘ is made up from our experiences and the narratives we receive from others, often during childhood. They create a lense through which we see the world that does not always work in our favour. These beliefs influence our reality. They limit our horizons and hold us back. They become our truth when in fact, they are about as far away from the truth as they could be.
I’m not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. Carl Gustav Young
How often have your heard yourself say ‘I am not the kind of person who…’, ‘I could never do….’, ‘I always…’. Ask yourself what evidence you have to support this. Aim to find a more positive dialogue, drawing on ‘can do’ and ‘have done’. In so doing you can re-define your self-concept and, more importantly, deliver an entirely different outcome.
Covid has forced us to change much of our routine, something that would have been much harder to instigate on our own. However large or small your appetite for change, now is the time to look to the future and actively set your own agenda. Doing what you have always done is fine if you want what you have always got. If not, there’s no better opportunity than now.