Ways to sustain yourself and create structure in an uncertain world.
It can be tempting in times of adversity to look for silver linings. The Bubonic Plague led to the Italian Renaissance. Perhaps COVID-19 can lead to our own personal renaissances and reinventions. If we can be flexible and adaptable, we can not only survive but thrive.
This is true. But it’s also true that many of us are hurting right now. We’re tired, confused, and sick of living in crisis with no clarity on when it will end. As a leadership coach, a few of my clients have taken the pandemic as a transformative moment to shoot for the stars. The majority however, are hunkered down in search of structure and stability in a world in which nothing seems certain or sane. They feel like they’re running marathons without finish lines.
Vaccine distribution has given hope, but it remains unclear when schools will return to normal, businesses will reopen, mask wearing will end, and traditional travel will resume. Dr. Anthony Fauci says it may be early 2022 “before we start having some semblance of normality.”
Until then, we’re all stuck in the same race. Below I share some strategies that you may find useful.
1. IDENTIFY YOR CORE VALUES + COMMITMENTS
In order to have endurance, we must be able to dig deep and know what matters most. That’s what gets us through hard times. Our core values and commitments. Our inner light. So forget about ambitious goals for a moment. Instead, try crafting simple statements of commitment. What matters most to you and why?
These statements should be anchored in core values like love, leadership, success, kindness, beauty, and perseverance. The beautiful thing about core values and commitments is that no one can take them away from you. You can lose a job or a loved one, but you can’t lose a value and you don’t ever have to change your commitments unless you want to. You get to decide what you’re committed to and how you want to activate that commitment.
2. BE YOUR OWN DISCIPLINARIAN
In the absence of social interaction, many of us are having to hold ourselves accountable without the help of friends, trainers, or a boss in the next office over. This isn’t easy. Physical, emotional, and intellectual support are vital to keeping us on track and accomplishing goals. Now we often find ourselves alone.
That’s why being your own disciplinarian is important. No one knows you better than yourself. You need to know when to give yourself tough love or soft love. Some days are hard right now, and being hard on yourself isn’t always beneficial. It may be more advantageous to choose to actively engage in self-compassion and think of more sustainable ways to give yourself support in these uncertain times.
Other days tough love may be exactly what you need to hold yourself accountable to your core commitments. Be an army sergeant, get yourself out of bed while it is still dark and do that Peloton class. You can boss yourself around one day and be a guardian angel the next.
3. FIND A CHEER SQUAD
Everyone gets to the point of being fed up and finished. In a marathon, everything hurts. You want to quit. But when you come around a corner, a stranger calls out, “Keep going!” Suddenly, you’re revitalized. That’s the power of a cheer squad.
We all need cheer squads. The more diverse our cheer squads, the better. Life partners are great. So too are colleagues, best friends, roommates, and parents. But try to reach out across your networks. The person who’s right for support in one moment may not be the right person the next.
I have an engineering client who has always been his own support system at work. But during the pandemic, he found that he needed outside support. He started looking in online engineering forums for others who were facing similar challenges. He had to push through resistance and find the courage to put himself out there, but now that he has, his perspective is shifting and he is finding renewed strength to keep going.
We’re not all engineers, but we are all multi-faceted. Our support networks need to reflect that to help us find a way through.
Amelia Kruse is a Certified Leadership Coach based in New York working with professionals and entrepreneurs globally.