Well, love, it’s May and not much has changed since March. We’re still mostly sheltering in place, many of us are still working at home, others have experienced furlough or job loss, grocery shopping is still a weird dystopian adventure and we still can’t hug our loved ones. On the plus side, I haven’t had to put gas in my car in 2 months.
I’ve been watching the trends during the past 2 months. After all, I’m a geek for human thoughts and processes! One of the things that I’ve noticed is that there is a LOT of talk about what you have to get done, the projects that you want to do and all of the tasks that will prepare you for coming out of this.
Let’s get real. We don’t have any idea what coming out of this is going to look like. We don’t know when that’s going to happen, or what will return to the way it was & what will be different as we bounce forward.
So, if we don’t know what coming out of this is going to look like, how can we possibly decide on the right project, or the right task, or the right “to do” list items?
That got me thinking, and learning. One of the ways I learn most these days is through podcasts. Adam Grant’s Work Life is in my usual rotation, and a recent episode that featured an interview with astronaut Scott Kelly gave me a boost. Mr. Kelly spent almost a year in space – alone. Talk about isolation! He and Adam discussed the usual advice of staying in the moment and being mindful (still important), and additionally during these prolonged periods of isolation, future thinking can be hugely helpful.
They didn’t talk about the things Mr. Kelly needed to do to get to the other side of his isolation. They talked about how he wanted to feel when he got to the other side. Identifying that helped him make the daily decisions about what to do, and *bonus* made him more resilient.
I had a fun conversation about this over on LinkedIn last week. A leader who I am lucky to know, implemented this with her team. She spent part of their meeting time Friday morning getting clear on how they wanted to feel when things shift next. The team came up with: optimistic, excited, resilient, tenacious, accomplished, valued and more.
What a powerful list! Can you imagine what they’ll do with that list as their guidepost for projects? That list becomes a filter through which to make decisions; and it serves as a connection point that the entire team has in common.
This practice can also be done personally. In another conversation last week, I invited someone to take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and write personal on one side and professional on the other. Give yourself a 30 minute chunk of time, think about how you want to feel personally in 6 months and how you want to feel professionally in 6 months. Use that list as your guide in your day to day life. Let it inform the decisions you make and support you when the more challenging periods arise.
We may not know what is coming next; but we do have the power to focus on how we want to feel…whenever we get there.