When will the pandemic end? That’s the magic question these days. Some say the end is close and the summer will be splendid, others warn of new virus variants, endemic disease, and social distancing forever. The answer is likely somewhere in between all the noise. As leaders, none of us can predict the future, yet all of us can work to shape our circumstances so that we’re not only prepared for uncertainty, we can find joy in the present.
Here are four steps you can take right now to make your life better even in the face of a pandemic:
Find peace, have fun. Pandemic life has helped us grow in our ability to accept loss, change, and the unknown. Own the peace that comes from being able to accept what’s in this moment. Yet don’t stop with acceptance, go further and recognize how you can have fun even in the midst of challenge. Growth happens when we can shift our moods even in the face of hardship.
Create space. Look at your calendar and pick one day where you’re not going to do anything that is typical for you to do. Maybe it’s a random Tuesday or a quiet Sunday. Block that day on your calendar now. Schedule nothing on that day. And, when that day comes, enjoy the space you’ve created to do whatever you’d like. Hopefully, you’ll value it so much you’ll work to create space like this more often. Even the most effective leaders take a break.
Plan for joy. Perhaps it’s a road trip, or maybe you’d like to play tourist in your hometown. It could be a socially distanced show or sporting event. Consider something you love to do but haven’t done since Covid began. Be aware of when that joy will be coming back online for you to experience and make plans to join in when you’re ready. New York just announced limited capacity theatre is coming back in April, professional sports will have more live events with spectators in the fall. Spas are re-opening. You might not feel ready to get back to once-loved activities today but make specific plans for tomorrow on a timeline that works well for you.
Achieve something for yourself. Humans value progress. What’s something you’d like to accomplish that’s meaningful to you? Consider something you can accomplish by the end of the month. Maybe it’s finishing the book on your nightstand or turning over your garden for Spring. Perhaps it’s going the extra mile on that challenging project at work. Set your sights on achieving something that matters. Plan your work and dig in, then be prepared to celebrate your success.
Angie and I have the privilege of engaging with professionals across many industries and around the nation. Staying close to a network of leaders allows us to spot trends and sense shifts in morale. We’ve noticed that the tail end of winter has been challenging. Pandemic fatigue is real, exhaustion is a reality for many. The great news is that spring is on the horizon and we’re all starting to feel it. Stay in the race. You’ve made it this far and we’re with you to the finish line.
Angie and Courtney are Marine Corps-made leaders who’ve demonstrated crisis leadership in the most demanding environments. They are the New York Times Best-Selling authors of SPARK and Leading from the Front. Through Lead Star, they advise leaders at the highest levels of business and government on leadership strategies, and coach managers and executives on how to lead their teams. Connect with Angie and Courtney on LinkedIn to receive ongoing leadership guidance.