“What do I do when everything seems out of control?” asked a coaching client during a recent session. Ah, the pandemic. What a moment in time we’re all experiencing, and there’s simply no blueprint or guide map for how to do “life” during this tough stretch.
Early on when the pandemic first started, it was soothing to hear others say that we’re all “in the same boat.” But I quickly realized that we’re actually not in the same boat. We’re in the same storm… but we’re each in different boats.
As a Professional Life Coach, I’ve paid keen attention to the issues my clients have brought to our coaching sessions throughout this past year, and I’ve noticed consistent and common themes. So, I’m taking a year’s worth of information and packaging it up for you.
To ensure that you’re sailing as calm of a journey as possible, here are my findings of important life learning lessons to help YOU navigate the waters as things remain unsteady. Below are the first 5 tips! Make sure to check the next blog for the remaining tips.
1. Quiet the noise and external distractions
Do you ever notice when you ask for advice, you can end up even more confused? Most times, advice is given with the best of intentions, but it often ends up being “noise” in the scheme of things. YOU know yourself best. YOU know what’s best for you and your situation (even if you think you don’t, you really do). Others may think they have a great idea for how you should live your life, but that only serves as a distraction from your own internal knowing.
Turn off the TV. Take a break from Facebook. Turn down the noise and the mental distractions. Let yourself get quiet and settle into the moment. As Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu said: “Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.”
2. Acknowledge the grief you’re feeling
Grief is all about loss. Take a moment to think about the myriad of losses you’ve experienced during the pandemic – from the small ones to the big ones. Many clients talk about the routine and sometimes mundane commute to work that they miss. One client shared how her income has taken a hit, and another talked about having to let go of her business. And there’s the loss of social events, live music, and activities that bring tremendous joy to thousands. I told my husband months ago that it felt like our old life “died”. Wow, that one landed hard for the couple who is used to embracing life via Caribbean cruises, road trip journeys, and rock and roll concert adventures.
Loss, right now, is everywhere. Acknowledge the grief emotions that you’re feeling and take time to call-out what you’re missing, even if the loss is temporary.
3. Focus on what’s most important
In my last post, I referenced the importance of deciding where to say “no”, in service of your bigger “yes”. You can either live your life by default, or you can live it by design. It’s really easy (especially when you’re experiencing stress) to show up to life and respond to whatever is in front of you with a knee-jerk reaction, but that will only keep you in a state of going-through-the-motions. Let the unimportant go, or at least set it aside until a later date.
For example, a client talked about feeling like she “should” work on a book she’s writing. And yet, she doesn’t feel like she’s in the right state-of-mind. So, she’s holding off for now and instead putting a note in her calendar to revisit the idea toward the end of the summer. That simple act alone allows her mind to be freed up to focus on what is most important right now – which she decided involves more down-time, better self-care, and continuing to strengthen family relationships.
During this unprecedented time, life is presenting each of us with a rare opportunity to get clear on what’s most important. If not now… when?
4. Redefine the myriad of roles you play
“Who you are” as a mom, wife, manager, friend, volunteer… may look very different right now. So, it’s important to rework your definitions for these roles, at least for this current season of life. “Manager” may no longer be one continuous block of time during the day; maybe you now balance that role with helping your kids get on Zoom calls or you balance the role with taking a nap or doing a workout during the day to address your emotional and physical needs. Allow yourself to redefine how you show up to these roles.
One client created an actual job description for her role as wife, to help keep her focused on what’s most important. She decided to get creative. Since the monthly restaurant date-nights are not an option right now, part of her new “job description” is to coordinate monthly Saturday night date-night dress-up dinners in the formal dining room with her husband after the kids are in bed! Might as well infuse a little fun where you can, right? :)
5. Practice gratitude for the win
German theologian, Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’ it will be enough.” That’s how important gratitude is. If you ever get so overwhelmed that you simply don’t know what to do next or you’re unsure about putting these lessons into practice… just be grateful. That’s it. Do it daily. Do it throughout your day.
For example, grab a journal and each day write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for. It might seem elementary, but the payoff is big. A client who started doing this several months ago said it’s been a “game changer” for her inner personal journey, and she’s now noticing so many moments of beauty and grace where she previously didn’t even know they existed.
Stay tuned for part two with the final 5 tips!
You’ll have a little time now to start putting some things into practice. Take care of YOU during a time when so many things can feel out of control. Start small, but start now. Your life is waiting for you, and these important life learning lessons can help you get there.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve had the honor of guiding women out of the uncertainty, chaos, and noise to a life of clarity, focus, and purpose. When you shine brighter, we all benefit! Don’t risk missing out on being fully present for your life. Contact me to learn how a personal coach can help.