In the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the world as you know it is bound to be different. Yet, the fixation I hear quite often is about the “new normal”. What will life be like after we get through this? Has this disruption to the life we knew become our “new normal”?
The more germane question to me is: “Why would you want normal, be this the “old” normal or a “new” normal?” What is with this seemingly myopic fascination with normal?
(adjective) conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.
(noun) – the usual, average, or typical state or condition
Your body is consistently replacing itself with new cells. Individual cells in your body are dying constantly. If your body did not generate new cells, you would die. Change is not only constant, it necessary to grow and thrive! When you scrape your knee, break a bone, or come down with an illness, your body creates new cells as part of the healing process. Our biological human design regenerates the cells in our bodies constantly. So why would you settle for the “new normal” when you are innately equipped with the capabilities to create better?
How does this apply to how we individually and collectively respond to this new reality the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust upon us? What does this mean for us? What is this global lockdown inviting us to see? What is it inviting us to create? How is it inviting us to be?
Many of us have been so wrapped up in the busyness of our lives that we have continuously chosen to disregard these threats to life as we know it.
The “stay-at-home” order has created space for nature and humanity to pause, recalibrate, and renew. It has so clearly revealed how interconnected and interdependent, not only humanity is, but also our entire ecological and economic systems. Issues such as climate change, inequality, and sustainability have been flashing red lights, warning of the dangers and impacts to not prudently and proactively addressing them. Many of us have been so wrapped up in the busyness of our lives that we have continuously chosen to disregard these threats to life as we know it. This slowdown of human activity, in an attempt to mitigate the impact of this highly contagious and lethal virus, has awakened many to the gluttonous, disconnected lens through which we complacently operated as “normal”. “Normal”, if it ever was, is no longer desirable nor sustainable. Normal reflects the existential threat we comfortably ignore.
This tragic, indifferent, insidious virus has disrupted our lives in numerous ways. We have hit the pause button on hugs, high-fives, and handshakes. Frequently washing our hands, physical distancing, and wearing protective face masks have become our new habits, not only for our own well-being but perhaps more saliently, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus to others.
Virtual human connection through video chat platforms like Zoom and phone conversations have become our lifelines. Remote working has become essential rather than a flexible work option. Parents have been thrust into the role of teachers. The whole notion of essential workers and businesses is now acutely seen through a different lens.
A harsh reality of this quarantine is that we are not able to be with our loved ones due to physical distancing and other measures designed to protect each person, particularly our most vulnerable from contracting or spreading this virus. Most alarmingly, the stark, brutal reality hits us when a loved one becomes ill, or heartbreakingly worse, passes away. Not being able to be with our loved ones or help them when they need us most, particularly in their final moments, is excruciatingly sad. The unimaginable grief at not being able to say goodbye, nor to properly celebrate their life and lay them to rest, has become our new reality.
The toll this global pandemic has taken on humanity have been far-reaching, heart-breaking, and very real.
What have you learned during this disruptive pause? What insights have your reflections yielded? How will you take these insights and create a new better reality not just now, but so that this new reality sustainably creates better for you, for humanity and for our planet? What will be different for you as we move through and emerge from this pandemic together?
Normal is not an aspiration, it is a limitation. Normal is a convenience we can no longer afford. Normal is and always has been an illusion, a manufactured construct to attempt to create an imaginary baseline, or comfort zone, for us to individually and collectively calibrate and soothe ourselves.
There is simply what is. Present reality. Then there is what does yours look like? How are you choosing to see it? How are you choosing to create it? Normal has nothing to do with reality. Your mindset around normal has everything to do with it.
Words create worlds. My experience, both personal and working with clients, has revealed three truths:
1) what we stop doing is vastly more important and impactful to creating meaningful change than what we start doing
2) letting go of limiting beliefs, assumptions or simply things that no longer serve you is the best way to create space for and movement towards what matters most to you
3) you are your greatest roadblock to unleashing your human greatness to create better
These choices are always available to you. Flourishing and fulfillment happens when you have the self-awareness, belief, and focus to intentionally take purposeful action to create your better reality, our shared better reality.
Shedding precedes soaring. Unbounded by the weight of erroneous assumptions, limiting beliefs, and baggage you have carried with you for far too long, you can boldly, intentionally, and purposefully envision the new reality you are committed to creating. You are now able to direct your energy, attention, and actions forward to creating better with and for one another.
You were not born to be normal. You are uniquely blessed with talents to create your reality. What do you need to stop doing to create your new reality? What do you need to let go of so you can soar and flourish in this new reality? How will you contribute to shaping our shared new reality?
A decade from now, when you look back on what this disruptive pause known as the COVID-19 pandemic invited you into, what will the choices you made and the story you wrote say about you?