We have all gone through the ups and downs of this pandemic. There are times when we are exhausted, defeated and overwhelmed. We can shift to feeling grateful, serene and connected. We have episodes where we are not sleeping, sick of cooking and utterly exhausted from managing the kids and work. That can flip to where we relish in the extra time with the family, enjoy supper rituals and feel guilt-free from being “less busy”. Sometimes we transition between extremes over a period of days, sometimes we experience both simultaneously.
Whether you are busier than ever, or at a bit of a loss and bored, there is a commonality we are all experiencing. Our concept of time is somewhat unraveled. Some theoretical physicists believe that time is really an illusion and we simply organize our thinking around events as past, present and future. If that is accurate, then our ways of organizing our thinking are quite disrupted. We still have the past to reflect on, the present to manage and solve problems around, and our future…well – it’s foggy, at least in the medium term. Our next year is a bit of an abyss. What we can hold on to is our long-term future. Things are likely to be more familiar to us in five years, or ten years. My husband has been using this thinking and started planning more specifically what he would like our next phase of life to look like – and it involves a sailboat. (For the record I will only do it if I can bring my mountain bike and have days of dirt under me). While it may not come true, this focus on the long-term has provided him a compass for the short term, and provided his brain with the time-oriented anchor points he needs to function.
I am thinking of this year as my middle-aged “gap year”. A time to embrace the uncertainty and consider renewal. That means refocusing my business, listening to more podcasts for reflection – and if I can squeeze it in between trying to manage my teenagers needs and my first grader’s schooling – some reading. And a small indulgence of trash TV.
As I consider myself and my work in 3-5 years, there is a greater sense of stability. The anchor I need to get through today is that picture, and what I am doing now will help me later down the road. I leave you with a reflective question: Knowing the goals you have for yourself, what might be some options you have been considering in your “gap year” that will move you closer to where you want to be in the long-term? Spend some time reflecting on that, but for sure take some time to watch a bit of trash TV. That also makes you feel better about your life.