"I went from feeling sluggish and stagnant to powerful and productive while social distancing." ~Janine Rudder
Today is my twenty-fourth straight day at home. With the exception of walks around the neighborhood and brief grocery store runs, I haven't left the house. Neither has my husband or my bonus daughter. We are all just here waiting and wondering together how life after the Covid-19 pandemic will look and feel.
After my first week of working remotely and practicing social distancing, my romanticized notions of what life would be like if I teleworked full time had dissolved. Before the crisis, I imagined that the benefits of full time telework - an extra hour of sleep each day, a mid-day workout, and no commute - would fundamentally alter my perception of work and instantly increase my joy levels. Things didn't end up that way. To be clear, telework did simplify my daily logistics and resulted in a better night's rest, however; it didn't result in a more fulfilling life.
Towards the end of that first week I started to examine how I could shift this quarantine experience from one where I am held captive by boredom, helplessness, and mindless screen time to one where I feel energized, conscientious, and on purpose. While exploring how to make this pivot, it occurred to me that the first quarter of the year is over. 2020 is 25% done! This realization prompted me to take stock of where I am with my big goals and face the fact that there's one I've been avoiding for the past year. I dug deeper into my feelings about it and noticed that although I really want to achieve it, it just felt too heavy; the finish line felt so far away.
I brought the matter to my coach during our next session and she helped me see that although the goal hasn't changed, my circumstances have. I now have an abundance of time, due to Corona, to invest in bringing a dream to life. Renowned coach, Steve Chandler, calls this making a dream into a project. Chandler says that "All of us can convert a dream into a project, and when we do life gets exciting." He asserts that making a wish into something you are actually working on is empowering, while keeping it as a want is degrading.
"Now that it's a project you've chosen it, you're engaged in it, you're working on it." Chandler goes on to say "it's not a lot of fun to sit in the presence of someone who has a bucket list of unfulfilled wishes and dreams. Just do it!"
My coach helped me create a plan for what working on my dream would look like, which included parameters so that I'd enjoy the process and not burn out. In the past two weeks, I've made more progress toward my goal than I had in the last 6 months! Using my current momentum, I can reach a major milestone by the end of quarantine, and complete the goal by the last quarter of the year!
Here are the three things I did to go from sluggish and stagnant to powerful and productive during social distancing:
1. I asked myself "what is the gift in this situation?"
I love this question because it forces you to shift your perspective immediately. Instead of increasing loyalty to your story about a situation, it makes you create a new, more optimistic narrative focused on possibilities instead of limitations.
Many things came to mind when I pondered the gift of my current circumstances: less pollution due to less travel, more autonomy over my mornings, but the biggest benefit by far is time. After acknowledging the luxury of time that I had been gifted, I owned the fact that only I could choose what to do with it. I had to decide whether I wanted to fill it with stuff, or use it to create something valuable.
2. I took a Personal Inventory
Now that I have this time that I want to be purposeful about using, I had to decide what that would look like for me. I got introspective and looked within to answer these questions:
"What's going on with me right now?"
"What am I really excited about?"
What am I longing for?"
The answers to these internal inquiries led me to the "what", I next had to figure out the "how."
3. I Sought Support
I'm fortunate to have a fabulous coach to bring awareness to some things that I don't always see. However, I also have thought partners and trusted confidants in my life who I can turn to for insight and accountability. After sharing my desire with her, we collaborated on a strategy to work toward it and I committed to it.
Now I can look back on this period in 2020 and know that I honored the gift I was given.
Janine Rudder is a coach and co-owner at Manifestara. manifestara.com