Blogillustration of business woman running in hamster wheel

So the masks are gone and the invitations are starting to flow in! Yay! Or is it?  That really depends on who you are talking to.  The pandemic was horrific in so many ways, however it did slow down the world and our personal lives for just a bit.  That time gave many people an unexpected gift to look at their lives before the pandemic.  Before COVID, some felt like they were sprinting on the hamster wheel, feeling unfulfilled with their lives and just trying to hold on. However, many introverts were thrilled to see the world slow down to their kind of pace.  Still others struggle with not having the human interaction they need to thrive.  Whether you are excited to have life come back or nervous about it, right now is a pivotal time (I can’t believe I used that word) to think about how you want your life to look moving forward.  I urge you to pause and take perspective before stepping onto the hamster wheel of life.

Pre-COVID

In the past, society gave the “Badge of Honor” for working those late nights, having a non-stop schedule and/or being Supermom.  I remember people saying, “Life is crazy!” and it really was. The more you accomplished (even if not well), the more you were respected and idolized, rather than those who tried to balance their lives.  You know the saying, “You can sleep when you’re dead!”

Before 2020, the option for parents to work from home was mostly a hard NO.  In fact at my company, Pacific Perks Coffee, LLC, I give my team complete flexibility!  It is part of our core values, however I still would feel guilty for working at home.  I know it is crazy, but I wrestled with the thought of, “Am I doing enough?”  I hated that I felt that way, but it was there.  Thanks to the perspective COVID has given me, that is gone and gone for good!!  Even if there is a gorgeous workspace for me at the office, I know for sure I won’t be returning.

Perspective

Have you ever had a break from a relationship or friendship and realized the gift of perspective that time period gave you? You got a chance to look at the things that worked and things that didn’t.  I believe that is what the pandemic did for the pace of our lives.  It made many stop and reflect on the time, the space, and the simplicity that is possible.  We realized that we might be able to live differently than before.  For some, this realization came very quick, leading to The Great Resignation.  People have found what they have been searching for or didn’t realize what was possible.  They have found a new way of life that works for them and their family.  What was that for you?  Was it working from home, living on less and having more freedom and/or starting your own business?

Post COVID

As life starts to return to normal, are you excited to get back to parties, concerts, networking events in person, travel, etc… Of course many of us are!  I am just excited to not wear a mask in a store.  But as we start to add things back into our life, it is so easy to over schedule.  I am wondering if a bunch of us are going to have a meltdown in a month or so (sigh).  I know I am trying to be very conscious as I say yes to commitments.  I have realized for myself that I am half extroverted and half introverted.  Knowing this, I know it is important to balance my social activities with my downtime.  I have found this is my recipe for success.

The topic of mental health is so important.  COVID affected people in different ways.  I have a close friend that was able to come out of a 9 month depression because life took a pause.  It lowered their stress level and the speed of life, which is just what they needed.  For others, not having the activity, connection, human touch has taken its toll.  Either way, it is important to reflect on what your recipe is and follow it.  As the mental health discussions before mainstream, I hope it gives people the courage to reach out for help and assistance.  If you work for a company, check to see if you have an EAP (Employee Assistance Plan) or covered counseling sessions and resources to help.

Whether you are excited to get back to life or scared to death, I think it is always good to take inventory of what brings you joy, and what sucks the life out of you.  If you aren’t sure what works for you, try different strategies.  It doesn’t hurt to try different ways of doing things.  For example, COVID has made me realize with work, I get just as much done without face to face meetings.  So now, I am thoughtful about what meetings I schedule that involve being face to face.  It comes down to self-awareness of what your needs are.  There is not one solution for everyone, we are all different.  But reflecting on your needs, and living your life according to those needs, can help you thrive in any situation, pandemic or not.  For many of us, it took a year like “2020” to literally stop and make us think about it.