Getting back to ‘normal’

I am sat in the office at the top of the Shambles in York. It’s a beautiful Spring day and the windows are open.

In previous years the street would be bustling with people, especially as some are on half term holidays, and yet, due to the current situation, it’s quiet.

In conversations over the last few weeks I have heard people longing for ‘normal’, for the bustle to return. But what does that actually mean? How much ‘normality’ do you really want? And are we looking at ‘normality’ through rose tinted glasses?

In today’s blog post I will share my thoughts around this situation and also how you can use this time to really get the life that you want..before disappearing into the conformity of normal.

Because that is what ‘normality’ is “conforming or adhering to a standard or rule”

Now I know that I am not normal as I tend to go against the standards and rules e.g. I am single, no kids, over 40 and am not employed. But I do not think that my desire to have a life on my terms is not that unusual. And this great pause has given many people the opportunity to look at their lives in a different way… partly because we have been forced into new situations.

Part of the challenge, I think, is that we have been swept up with the ‘Joneses’ for years. Remember them? Those mythical neighbours who had all the mod’ con’s and holidays. Of course this changed to the Kardashian’s and well, any celebrity or social media influencer. We were convinced that to be seen as ‘good enough’ and living life the ‘right way’, we had to follow them. Be doing what they were doing. Or have what they have.
I am not knocking their way of life, because if it is right for them, great. But is following someone else’s life right for you?

Coming out of routine, the ‘norm’ can give us the opportunity to look at how we were living and check whether it is what we want or was it more what we thought we wanted or thought we should do? And before things do start swinging back into action over the next few weeks/months, check.

Take some time to truly look at how your daily life was in 2019 and right up until the UK lockdown. Is that how you want it to be again or would you make some changes?

Most people want to change something in their lives, but few do. People are resistant to the change, as their focus is on what they think they will lose rather on what they might gain. And before the lockdown I heard many conversations (usually me listening in cafes and restaurants) of how much people wanted to change. Wanted things to slow down. Well they got that and I am now hearing (in supermarket queues and on social media) the longing for the return of that previous life? “I want things to be back to normal’

Have people forgotten?

Now please do not get me wrong, I realise that for some this is a real juggle; young ones at home and having to work full time. I also realise that some have lost their jobs or may in the future.

I do believe, as someone who has ‘hit rock bottom’ a number of times, that you can change your life and create something more in alignment with what you want, no matter where you are starting from.

The question is whether you are prepared to put the effort in to do that or are you ready to get back on the hamster wheel again?

I don’t care what choice someone makes, as long as it helps them live the life they truly want, e.g. I know someone who doesn’t particularly like their job, but also knows that due to the shift work, they get great blocks of time off to do the things they love. And someone else who thrives on the long hours they work because they know that their work is truly making a difference to lives. And someone else who gave up their work because home schooling their kids was their focus.

This is why I am not a fan of ‘normal’ What is normal? Each of these people have made choices based on their wants and needs, not on their neighbours or some well paid celebrity. But have looked at what works for them. I am a much bigger fan of creating life your way, as long as it is supportive to you, others and the world at large.

Many coaching conversations in the past few months have been about this, even before the lockdown. I have been working with Mums’ whose children will be heading off (hopefully) to Uni this year and they will for the first time not have kids at home. What does that new life look like for them? People who want to take charge of their career and either make a change and leave or move up the ladder. Some are even talking about starting their own businesses. It doesn’t matter what the change is that they are looking to make, but by knowing what they want and putting the effort in, they can start creating.

And that’s my invitation to you too.

Regardless of how big the change is that you want to make, this great pause is proving the space to reflect and plan. And I want to help you with this. Obviously if you are looking to work with me 1:1 to find your answers to the following questions, or work on something else, please do email me  Working through these questions though will give you a great starting point.

So grab a pen and paper and a bucket full of honesty and let’s get going.

  1. What was working for you before lockdown?
  2. What wasn’t working for you before lockdown?
  3. What has been working for you during lockdown?
  4. What hasn’t been working for you during lockdown?
  5. Looking at all your answers above what have you learnt about your life and how can you use that to create the life you want?

Real answers anonymised and shortened:

Person 1

  1. Team work, both at home and in the office.
  2. The commute and balancing act of home and work.
  3. Spending more time with family both at home and online. We seem to be talking more which is making the demands of work easier to manage.
  4. I am missing the small talk with colleagues, that’s harder to do online.
  5. That I can say ‘no’ more and the sky hasn’t fallen in. I am noticing that it’s empowering others so want to do this more.

Person 2

  1.  Doing what I wanted when I wanted.
  2. Making work the sole focus on my life.
  3. Realising that I can live without the daily Starbucks – better for my waistline and wallet!
  4. The uncertainty of the future and what that might mean for me.
  5. I am seeing that I can’t control the future so want to practise letting go and not stressing as much.

Person 3

  1.  Walking to the office each day and being around others.
  2.  Not preparing food and eating convenience foods most days.
  3.  Planning long walks and meal planning too – planning is working.
  4. Being around people. I have realised how much I miss physically being with people.
  5. That planning weirdly makes things easier and that I want to spend more time with people.

So what did you discover?

From here you can start the process of looking at what you want to keep and what you can let go of.

What stays? Goes? Needs adapting?

As with any change I would look at starting small. What are the simplest and smallest steps you can start right now and make this change your new normal? And of course who do you need to talk to, to create this – partner, spouse, boss, kids, mentor, coach, counsellor ?

Yes, often these processes have more questions than answers, but at least that helps you get clarity so you can find your new normal. Good luck!

And if this has sparked so many questions that you are confused or overwhelmed, then please do get in touch to book in a coaching conversation.