Over the years, I’ve written quite extensively about resiliency, adaptability, and the like. While most of my focus is centered on the need to strengthen these behaviors to maximize effectiveness in a work environment, I find most often they are directly transferable to our personal lives as well. In an age of chaos and disruption, I have realized that streamlining the number of things I need to “work on” is just plain good for my sanity, so finding areas that allow me to develop and evolve both personally and professionally simultaneously make it to the top of my priority list. I tend to think of this as “The Blur.”
It’s been a long year filled with challenges, but with an equal measure of opportunity. I’ll fully admit as we slide into the end of 2020, I’m just plain tired. While my exhaustion is largely fueled from playing a leadership role trying to keep our company thriving and motivated during these unique times and managing my kids and their remote learning, every single one of us has our own unique dynamics we’ve needed to navigate through. And while there is a light at the end of the proverbial COVID tunnel, we still face several more months working through this as cases surge and winter quickly approaches. How to manage through this (hopefully!) last leg of the COVID marathon? Below you’ll find a few strategies to help bolster yourself through this winter, and perhaps benefit from your own “blur.”
ASSESS YOUR TRIBE
As we moved into self quarantine back in March, many of us relied on our families or a very small, close group of friends to create safety pods with. While much of the world is embracing the need to continue to wear masks and exercise caution, there is also a collective sense of “ugh...I’m so over this.” As we head into the colder weather and the option to spend time outside like we did during the summer is likely to be more limited, WHO we share our time with becomes extra meaningful. Personally, I find myself spending far less time on video in social gatherings than I did during the early days of March and April. Rather, I gain energy from a small group of people (both from work, and from my non-work life) that I can be physically near, who tend to have upbeat, positive outlooks.
BLUR BENEFIT: Professionally, I can’t always surround myself with only the people who bring me energy. However, I find myself actively seeking out those positive folks as I look for help on special projects, provide new opportunities, etc. Actively seeking out people who give me energy rather than zap me of it is a key strategy in both work and my personal life.
PUT YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST
I have never embraced the term “self care,” as it strikes me as incredibly self indulgent. And yet, when I alter the meaning and think of it as “putting your oxygen mask on first,” I can get behind it. One of the best COVID-era decisions I made for myself was replacing my morning commute with running every morning. Not only does it clear my head and energize me for the long day ahead, but I physically and mentally feel better than I have in years. We are all busy, and often unmotivated to take on another project, but carving out time for yourself each day can make you a better, more present parent, friend, coworker, etc.
BLUR BENEFIT: If you identify at least one thing you can do for yourself on the regular that brings you joy, you’ll most likely benefit from the lasting effects of that all day long; fueling both the energy you bring to work, and in life.
GET OUT INTO THE WORLD AND HELP (EVEN IF IT’S FROM HOME)
While I am pretty good at finding the positive in any chaotic situation, I too have had my dark days during 2020. The thing that never fails to snap me right out of that funk is reflecting on what I have to be grateful for (e.g. my health, more time spent with my kids, a job I love that gives me purpose and keeps me busy…) as well as the realization that so many others in the world have it so much worse. Times of crisis and chaos allow each of us the chance to lend a hand to others in the world.
BLUR BENEFIT: Whether its a weekly take out order from your favorite local restaurant, participating in an online concert series, or virtually volunteering at a school, there is a way for every person to lend a helping hand in some way. Bonus points if you can identify aiding a person or organization that is meaningful to both you and your work. For me, it’s been leaning even more heavily into social justice this year. It’s important to me and it’s important to Rapid7. A win-win for all.
GAIN SOME MASTERY
Really want to impress yourself (and potentially your boss and/or team!) this winter? Pick something new to learn, and invest a little time...every.single.day. The discipline might do you some good, especially in these rather unstructured times at home.
BLUR BENEFIT: Exercise was one of those things that I could never seem to prioritize. When we went into self quarantine, I committed to no excuses. By convincing myself I would never be gifted more hours in my day to reconfigure the way this time had been provided, I shunned sleeping in to finally tackle this goal. It has proven a wise choice. Not only am I feeling the personal health benefits of carving out that time to sweat nearly every single day but I am bringing the benefits back to work. I’m clear headed, my stress is minimal, and I am full of energy. Chipping away at a goal is a huge win, but actually getting better at that thing you thought you just couldn’t do - and gaining some mastery of it - is one of my biggest wins of 2020.
TURN OFF THE TV, AND TURN UP THE MUSIC
Of course when things are challenging, it’s easy to flip on the tv or bury our faces in our technology, secretly hoping to be updated on some magical cure or good news. I was glued to my tv in the early days of COVID, until I realized it was actually doing more harm than good. Instead, I turned off the tv, and turned on my record player. That’s right: my old school albums have been in heavy rotation for months now. Why? Because The Stones and Miles Davis just seem to bring me joy. The point is, watching the news may keep us informed, but consume it in small doses. Instead, opt for cherishing those small moments you CAN control; whether it’s a great song, the smell of a fresh pot of coffee, or playing a board game with your family.
BLUR BENEFIT: Finding ways to identify and savor those small moments within your control is healthy. Obviously, there are the physical benefits like the serotonin boost which helps calmness and mood. That’s a huge personal win, but think about the applications to your professional life as well. When you approach your work with a renewed sense of perspective and calm, you are bound to be more thoughtful and less reactive. You’ll find that advantageous to both your team and customers alike.
“Winning” COVID isn’t just about wearing a mask, limiting your exposure to others, and avoiding the virus. Just as important is taking control of the elements of your life you CAN control. When you narrow it down to the most impactful things, hopefully you'll find they are aiding you holistically - both personally and professionally. May everyone you encounter and engage with benefit from your efforts.
Christina Luconi is Chief People Officer for Rapid7. Follow her on Twitter: @peopleinnovator