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How reflecting on the past can enhance your future

Mar 29, 2021

Look back, then spring forwards

With a new stage of the roadmap reached in England on Monday 29 March, maybe it’s starting to feel like we can be optimistic about this brave new world.

Certainly, we’ve still a long way to go but being able to see family and friends who live outside of our home, is good for the soul and with further Lockdown restrictions easing over the coming months, we can start to feel that life Jim, but not as we know it, is opening up again. Yes, we will still be mask-wearing and hand sanitising but at least we can go places and see people, as long as we continue to be careful.

With last week’s National Day of Reflection, we thought about the tragic loss of lives that the pandemic has brought. It also meant we made the time and space to look back over the past 12 months, and all that has happened - globally, nationally and in our own personal lives.

Boxsets, boxing gloves and business bombshells

Each of us has faced our own personal challenges – physically, mentally and emotionally. Maybe you’ve worked from home, perhaps juggled home-schooling; faced redundancy, were furloughed or as a key worker you’ve been on the frontline. You may have felt frustrated at not being able to help vulnerable loved ones.

Your home may have felt overcrowded, or maybe you felt isolated. Some worked hard on being connected, some were disconnected more than ever.

Some watched all of Netflix and worked their way through popcorn, chocolate and Doritos, whilst others discovered health and fitness and have new versions of their self who no one will recognise out of Lockdown!

I believe it’s important to reflect and celebrate how you’ve faced the challenges. There will have been ups and down for everyone but ultimately, you did the best you could in extraordinary circumstances. You showed up regardless. You made it.

We learnt a lot about ourselves in Lockdown – how tolerant we are, creative, resourceful, patient, resilient. Having watched Big Brother in the past, I have wondered what I’d be like in those situations and well, without the cameras, and for those who are not keyworkers out every day on the frontline, we’ve kinda had our own version – living with everyone every day, going out for some exercise but not venturing far.

Maybe you adjusted to it all fairly well. Perhaps you enjoyed being able to avoid people. Maybe you found it incredibly challenging and climbed the wall missing social connection.

If we make the time to reflect, it’s been a huge learning curve for us all and a unique opportunity for personal growth and development. What did you learn about yourself that you realised needed to change, in order for you to be a better version of you? Were there some strengths you never knew you had, which you can keep working on enabling you to be a more confident you? New social connections enriching your life? Or maybe when one door closed for your business, you pivoted and launched a whole new successful idea to carry forward and build upon.

Author Earl Nightingale said:

“With every adversity there is an equal or greater gift. Keep looking for the gift.”

Sometimes, in the rawness of the situation, this quote may not ring true at all but over time, the gift might become apparent.

A new wave

Whilst reflection is important so that we learn and grow, the clocks spring forward giving us that much-loved extra hour of daylight, and so perhaps there’s a sense of optimism in the Spring air; it’s a good time to look ahead and to have goals to look forward to.

One sticking point is the summer holiday… I know everything is still up in the air with being able to book a holiday abroad but that’s a lighthouse – there is nothing we can do about it and although incredibly frustrating and disappointing, we will continue to bash our little rowing boat against the rocks unless we figure out that that lighthouse (COVID situation) ain’t gonna move, and so we need to intelligently navigate our thinking around it.

If you had hoped to go to foreign climes, I feel your pain. Last November, perhaps rather naively, with the hope of vaccinations on the horizon and no sign of variants, we booked a summer holiday in Europe, so that we had something to focus on through the dark winter months. We planned to drive, to avoid any difficulty with flights, should there be another flare up with Lockdown anywhere near where we were staying, and we needed to get back to the UK quickly. As a family, we’ve been pouring over maps and researching amazing places to go both on the way to our villa, and on the way back. We had this idyllic vision of two weeks in Europe to build happy memories after what has been a challenging year. However, we’ve chosen to shelve that most marvellous plan as things are not looking rosy in terms of being able to travel anywhere outside the UK this summer.

For me, booking somewhere in the UK, will most likely mean sitting in hours of traffic to get there. If everyone is going to be holidaying in the UK, the roads are going to be like one big car park. I’m not interested in paying over-inflated rates because let’s face it, second homeowners are going to be taking advantage of a second year of the staycation. Bah humbug!

So, what to do? We can all mope around, lament what could have been. Or, we suck it up, recognise it for the lighthouse it is, and get creative. I know I’m making it sound easy to get over a disappointment and it’s not always the case but what’s the alternative? There is nothing we can do about the situation so instead, we are choosing to focus our energy on thinking of different ways to entertain ourselves.

Ideas so far:

  • Look into festivals we’d like to go to
  • Find secret beaches where we live, that only locals visit
  • Unusual places to picnic
  • Theme parks
  • Geocaching
  • Visit family in London and have a list of places we’ve not been to in the capital
  • Put the tent up in the garden/plan a camping weekend
  • Bike trails
  • Go Ape
  • Cinema and Theatre
  • A trip on the Steam railways near us
  • Crabbing on the Suffolk coast
  • Check out the National Trust’s 50 thing to do before you’re 11 ¾ - we’ve still a 10 year old and let’s face it, we haven’t all done everything on that list!
  • My husband and I take a week off from work and we act like we’ve all gone away on holiday. No laptops, no work phones, no housework; just us and the girls hanging out and having fun.
  • Book in a Yes Day – yikes!

Maybe some of the above sounds appealing to you and can be memory-making experiences with loved ones and friends. Or compile your own list. If going away this year isn’t an option, we can make our own merriment.

A new dawn, a new day

What goals can you set yourself for the next 12 months? When you get to Spring 2022, what do want to feel proud you’ve achieved? I’m not talking clearing out the attic, I’m talking stretching goals. Learning a new language for next year’s holiday, a fitness goal that gets you totally out of your comfort zone, giving up a habit and creating healthier habits, creating a work/life balance which means more time with loved ones, or saving for the dream home/car/holiday that’s always been over there on Someday Isle…

We need to keep feeding our soul with the good stuff. It’s been one heck of a year and we’ve needed to pull on all our mental resources to adapt, be flexible, resourceful and resilient.

As we approach a ‘new normal’, celebrate you and all that you’ve done to get through these strange and unparalleled times and look ahead with optimism. With your mindset in a good place, you’ll seek the possibilities with an open mind and spot the opportunities for joy.

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