As we all adapt to the coronavirus lockdown, the consequence for many of us is that our usual sources of connection, focus and routine have been sent into disarray. The future has become uncertain and unpredictable and we can find ourselves jumping between feelings of worry, overwhelm and inertia.
In this turbulence, how can you best re-establish a feeling of agency and being in control? How do you adjust to the new normal – and thrive?
Take these three steps.
Step 1 - Set a positive and meaningful focus
Ship captains in stormy seas hold their ships steady by keeping their eyes on the horizon. As the captain of your own life ship, it’s important to do the same - to set a positive and meaningful focus. Here’s a tool to help. It's called the Wheel of Life.
Imagine a wheel. Each spoke of your wheel represents an area of importance in your life. You choose how many spokes your wheel has, according to what’s a priority for you. For instance, you might include Family & Friends, Health, Work, Personal Development, Fun, Contribution, Money and Spiritual Life. How many areas you choose is up to you - for sustainability, I suggest you aim for a maximum of eight.
Now prioritise each of these areas. How important is each one, and how much attention do you want to give it, compared with the other areas you’ve identified? What do you want to achieve in each area - what's your goal?
This is your horizon, your positive and meaningful focus.
Step 2 - Structure your time
The fastest and most effective way to counter unpredictability and uncertainty is to (re)create structure and routine.
Think about possible activities you could do to achieve your goals in each area of your Wheel of Life. Nothing is right or wrong; what matters is what works for you. Look for ways that will help you maintain as much 'normal' as possible.
Examples might be…
Area - Family & Friends
Goal - to keep connected
Activities - I love meeting Nikki for coffee each week: I could put the kettle on and arrange to meet her for a ‘sofa chat’ each week by Skype instead; I love my book group: I could convert our book group meetings to Zoom; we’ll miss our family holiday this year: we could dig out the photo album and have a family night remembering past holidays…
Area - Health
Goal - to maintain my fitness level
Activities - I can't go to my yoga classes: I could live stream classes at home instead; I've always wanted to know more about mindfulness: I could download that app and start a short daily meditation practice; I get the munchies now I'm at home all day: I could make up some healthy snacks ready for me to dip into...
Area - Work
Goal - to safeguard my career
Activities - I'm not prepared for working from home: decluttering that alcove and setting up a dedicated space to work would be a start; I'm finding all these zoom meetings exhausting: I could schedule breaks between meetings and talk to my team about work/home time boundaries; my CV and LinkedIn profile are out of date: I could update them both...
Once you’ve determined the possible ways you could give attention to each area of your Wheel, identify which ones you want to focus on and schedule them into your diary for the days and weeks ahead. Allocate time slots for each activity according to the priority each Wheel of Life area has for you.
Step 3 - Review
Return to your Wheel of Life. Set markers at regular intervals along each spoke (your areas of importance) and label them from 1 on the inside of the wheel to 10 on the outside.
At the end of each day and each week, ask yourself how happy you are with how much attention you’ve given to each area; how satisfied you are with the progress you've made in each area, relative to the priority you gave to it?
Very happy? Maybe you’d score it a 9? Not so happy? Maybe a 5? Put a small cross on the corresponding number marker on each spoke.
Then join up the crosses you’ve made to form a ‘circle’ (hint - it might be a bit wonky).
Imagine you’ve just drawn the wheel of a bicycle.
How bumpy do you think riding that bike would be?
You’re aiming for a comfy ride! What could you focus on tomorrow, and over the next weeks, to create a smoother ride?
Now build that into your schedule for the days and weeks ahead.
Great! You’re on your way to thriving through lockdown.
Would you like support to thrive through lockdown? Then get in touch. I’m here - and ready to help.