With many of us at home, it’s time to let our lives catch up to us and envision a new future.
The unbridled spread of COVID-19 has caused all but essential service providers to drop what we were doing and settle in at home. This forced slowdown is very uncomfortable for most.
Notwithstanding the stress we increasingly feel about our financial security, for many of us, our mental health is maintained by our participation in meaningful work. Without that work to direct our attention, effort, and even passion toward, we are left floundering to find stability and juggling myriad possibilities with indecisiveness.
Our personal values are being challenged in a way they have never been before.
Many of us have our identities and feelings of self-worth tied up in our work – we feel we’re valuable because of what we do. Without our regular avenues of activity, we may start questioning our own meaningfulness and purpose.
But, this forced slowdown may not necessarily be a bad thing.
Collectively, we’ve been racing through time, chasing the next best thing, devouring resources at alarming rates, and wreaking havoc on the natural systems of the planet.
We’ve created such pressure for ourselves and each other that many of us live on our last nerve, with heightened sensitivity and lowered tolerance for anything we disagree with or are caught off-guard by.
Maybe COVID-19 is actually a gift to many of us.
We have the time to stop and actually spend time with ourselves and our loved ones. We get to jump off the treadmill and take the time to look around for other possible interests to direct our attention.
We have the opportunity to think, consider, choose, and reflect on our personal values. We can slow down and deepen our experience of ourselves and our actions.
This event gives us a rare opportunity to reconnect with ourselves.
This slowdown can give us a chance to reconnect with ourselves in ways we haven’t been able for a very long time. We’ve been producing and struggling to keep our heads above water in the evermore demanding push for economic growth.
We’ve seen priorities shift throughout society to mobilize against COVID-19. The things we have been told couldn’t be done have been.
Hospitals have been built in two weeks. Research is being implemented in weeks and months, not years. Money is being provided to feed and shelter those without adequate incomes without quibbling.
When the situation is taken seriously enough, society can mobilize to ensure we are all taken care of together.
Values we generally only give lip service to in good times are actually acted upon in times of collective danger.
We have an opportunity with this slowdown to reflect on our values and our actual worth. We can decide for ourselves what we want to spend our time on, not just waiting to be directed by a boss or our need to make money.
Now is an opportunity to just be, instead of just doing.
There are so many things we can enjoy about this time.
We can catch up on our sleep to improve our overall health, since most of us are sleep-deprived. We can try those new recipes we’ve been collecting for a special occasion.
We can read those books we’ve accumulated on our bedside, desk, or wish list. We can sit and read with our kids, listen to their stories and interpretations, hear their thoughts, and snuggle them close.
We can play tag or “Duck, duck, goose” out in the backyard. We can play Monopoly, Scrabble, or Yahtzee as a family and learn how to play nicely with one another again.
Now it’s time for us to take stock and reflect on what’s truly important to us.
It’s time to decide if we’re content with the life we’ve been living. Or, now that we have time, maybe we’d like to change the direction we take when we all get back to work. Maybe you want to take some time now to learn a new skill, take some online courses, or explore other employment or career possibilities.
Maybe there’s a cause you have always felt passionate about, but have never had the time to contribute. Perhaps, now is a good time to look into local ways to get involved: if not in person, then in other ways now and in-person later.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book. Or start a podcast. Or learn a new language. Or create special crafts.
This forced slowdown is an opportunity for us to reconnect with ourselves, our values, our dreams, and our passions.
Consider this an opportunity to plan – and change – our future.
We can slow down, take some time to just be, and see what floats to the surface. We can catch up to our lives and assess whether or not we are where we want to be and, if not, to plan how we’re going to get there.
Collectively, we’ve been racing into the future. Individually, we now have the time to decide what we want that future to be and how we want to be in it.
When we come back together, we can create a more intentional, inclusive, holistic, and balanced society where our priorities actually reflect our values of social cohesion and equitable opportunity.
Taking this time to be – away from the push to-do – will help clarify that future vision for all of us by using COVID-19 to our individual and collective advantage.
Until then, stay safe and healthy, at home, and six feet away from others. And wash your hands frequently.