We Can’t Go Back

What is it that has us not want to go back to our old experience of ‘the office’?

Executives and other professionals around the world are unwilling to go back to their pre-2020 work experience as a result of the pandemic. Working for the same company, the dreaded commute, long work hours, and unending travel is no longer an acceptable way of living. Hundreds of thousands of professionals are re-considering their careers, their lifestyle, and what is truly important to them in life. Several of my clients have said ‘the old way was unsustainable and now that I’ve had a taste of a more balanced life, I won’t go back again.’

For the first time, we can integrate all of the aspects of our lives into a single day.

That’s the big ah-ha. Most of us never realized how balanced our lives could be when we DON’T go into an office or travel every week. While boundaries have been difficult in managing all the disparate aspects of our lives all in one place – at home – for many of us our life balance is working! For the first time, we can integrate all of the aspects of our lives into a single day. We no longer are focused on work activities (including commuting) from 7a-7pm and we don’t have to wait until nights and weekends to get the rest of life attended to. We are learning how to weave all of it into our day-to-day lives including cooking, walking the dog, exercising, reading, connecting with loved ones, gardening, sit-down meals, shopping, and mowing the grass. And we are finding new ways to gather in person with those we work with to solve problems and make decisions while keeping connections strong and trust high. In fact, so many of us are healthier and happier working mostly from home, we may start to see lots of changes in the greater world of work.

Perhaps, this change can help us evolve as a species in how we integrate work and the rest of our lives into a new way of being – forever. Ken Wilber, the author of ‘A Brief History of Everything’ says that evolution happens when we transcend the old way AND include the best of it in the new solution. Transcend and Include. It’s not like we toss out the baby with the bathwater. Instead, we take the best elements of what is being transcended and include them in the new way of being. This helps us move from who is right and wrong, to what is right for us, which sets us free to allow others to choose what is right for them.   

Instead of focusing on going back to the old way of doing it all in a new way, consider what parts you would like to keep and what parts need to change.

For me, one thing I would keep is the new IT infrastructure that has been created by organizations across the world to keep everyone connected. One thing I would let go of is the dramatic increase in online convenience shopping (myself included!) and encourage/incent people to support their local economy and be supported by those resources. Another thing I would keep is the ability to start work at 9a and be done by 5-6p and have those 3 hours before and 3hrs after work to integrate the rest of my life. Most people I know have gained at least 3 hours in their day (including the commute). Some of them are simply working 3 more hours with the extra time. Most of them have found ways to enjoy the slower pace of a more balanced life – and they’ll never go back. It’s time to make your own list and start the dialogue.

How can you find and keep the new balance?

EXPLORATION:  In today’s exploration, I invite you to consider your new balance going forward: 

  1. One thing I would like to keep doing going forward is: ____________
  2. One thing I would like to stop doing going forward is: ____________
  3. My biggest fear in making these changes is: type in here: ____________
  4. One way I can start sharing what I want and don’t want going forward is: ____________
Once we uncover our limiting beliefs, we can begin to challenge whether or not they are true for us in our current situation.


Wendy Watson-Hallowell | The Belief Coach
Wendy Watson-Hallowell | The Belief Coach
WENDY is passionate about enabling individuals, organizations and communities to value themselves and each other in the ongoing process of change. Wendy has guided hundreds of individuals and over 750+ public and private sector organizations to achieve tangible increases in impact and performance. Her successful practice in mentoring and coaching has led to authorship of the book, ‘Live a Life You Love and Make a Living Doing It’. Over the last 30 years, Wendy’s skills have been honed in leadership roles at MTV Networks, The Rensselaerville Institute, and a variety of community based projects in her town. In 2015 she launched BeliefWorks and offers Belief Coaching as a way to address the root cause of what limits the results we can achieve both personally and professionally. This is an 'upstream' solution to change. Instead of changing limiting behavior, she focuses on changing the limiting beliefs that drive that behavior. In all cases, her clients and partners speak to the specific increases in achievement that her consulting, coaching and partnership roles make possible.

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  1. Great article Wendy. I’ll try to keep my points brief, but no promises… Speaking strictly from the perspective of American office culture, the pandemic has truly been a nightmare on many levels. However, as you suggested, there are many silver linings hidden in the fallout. For the past 18+ months, I have been relegated to work-at-home status. I have enjoyed this situation immensely. I’ve saved a small fortune on fuel, not to mention wear-and-tear on my vehicle. I have more time for exercise, yard work, general maintenance. Most importantly, I have more time for family activities. These are definite perks. Even more fascinating, there are millions more like me who have proven that we are just as effective, efficient and responsible working from home – if not more so than in direct office culture. Unfortunately this will not remain status quo. Many of us will be herded back into our lifeless cubicles… and with that our special seed of independence will once again die on the vine. It’s quite sad really, but the nature of the beast has no feelings. We are worker bees, and production moves forward… with or without our gripes and complaints. In my industry, they demand accountability. They want us front and center. So be it… But let it be known that this topic is far from resolved. People will not forget that work-from-home IS possible… that it IS a positive shift in momentum…. that we CAN be trusted… and that we WILL demand more time away from corporate environments. Covid-19 forced their hand. Things will change. It’s just a matter of time… Best regards!

    • We CAN demand more of the lifestyle, choices, and freedoms we know are possible. For some of us Aaron, it has been the tipping point us to say ‘no more!’ as we make new choices that seem to be working out just fine. It is just a matter of time and I hope you will start to feel the LIFE that is possible through your creative contribution – even in the grey cubical! Thank you so much for sharing your experience.