Over the past few weeks, I have read four books (my typical pace is one book a quarter). I dusted off my guitar for the first time in years and learned some new chords. I have taken daily walks, sometimes two; cooked homemade meals every day; attended my first virtual bachelorette party, and FaceTimed regularly with family members and old friends. I have also slept more, laughed more, and meditated more.
I am not sharing these accomplishments to boast. In fact, as I reflect on how I’ve spent these first few weeks of quarantine, it has only made me more aware of how much precious time I used to waste BSD (“Before Social Distancing”). I never made time to read. I texted my friends and family instead of calling them. I was always too “busy”. But the sad truth is, while I may enjoy a few extra hours each week due to cancelled travel and social events, my day to day hasn’t changed that drastically. I already worked from home and my husband and I don’t have any kids (shout out to all the superhero parents out there!). With the exception of a few client calls each week, I have complete control over my schedule. So why has it taken a global pandemic for me to prioritize the things that matter most?
It feels like this collective pause has finally given people, myself included, permission to slow down. And while this new pace of life has many gifts to offer us, it can also be quite uncomfortable. You can no longer hide from the things you’ve been burying under excuses or sweeping under the proverbial rug–consciously or unconsciously. Pardon the pun, but #timesup. If you and your partner haven’t been on the same page for a while, it’s time to have the hard conversations. If you’ve been unhappy at work, it’s time to acknowledge that your first emotion was relief rather than fear when you were told to go home and wait for further instruction. If you’ve let clothes/paperwork/emotional baggage pile-up for “a rainy day”, that day has come, my friend.
Of course, I am acutely aware of the irreversible damage this virus is causing to families, businesses, and markets around the world. And my heart goes out to those who are suffering or have family members who are suffering, as well as the brave healthcare providers on the front lines who are putting their own health at risk day in and day out. But those of us who are safely quarantined have a choice: continue clinging to excuses and fear to justify business-as-usual…or, embrace this new rhythm and take advantage of the opportunity to reexamine how we’re living our lives.
If all you want to do is Netflix and Chill, by all means DO IT. No judgment here. But if you want to do the work to make this time count, I’ve got you. I help individuals and corporations articulate and live out their purpose for a living. A big part of this work is helping people get crystal clear around what matters to them most. The secret to this, I’ve learned, is asking the right questions. Often, the right questions are the most obvious ones. You may overlook them or brush them off, because “it’s not worth your time.” But these simple questions can be an incredibly effective way of getting to the heart of the matter. That is, if you’re willing and brave enough to do so.
So, I would like to offer you some questions. Mull them over in your meditation, journal about them, or bring them up at the dinner table tonight. Above all, I encourage you to keep an open mind and to respond to these questions from the heart, without judgment, shame, or fear.
Questions for quarantine:
What do I miss most? What did I take for granted BSD and how can I make sure I no longer do once quarantine ends?
What am I most grateful for during this time? How can I express gratitude more freely and frequently?
What bad habits have I picked up and how can I replace these with healthier ones?
What have I given myself permission to do/say/feel during this time and why did it take a global pandemic to do so?
What have I been putting off? What are things in my life that I’ve been wanting to change or address for a while?
What makes me come alive? How can I invest more time in these activities or relationships today and every day?
I hope these questions inspire you to make the most of this strange, sad, but also beautiful time. Remember, we’re all in this together, and we are so much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.
“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”