There’s no going back to “normal” after the last 12 months. What does normal even mean at this point? (And, as the most recent shootings remind us, there are some things we never want to be normal.) Our lives, realities, and perspectives have been changed in profound (and for many, painful) ways – but it appears there is light at the end of the tunnel at least in regard to COVID as more people become fully vaccinated, communities begin to open up, and our ability to see (and hug!!) our family and friends becomes a reality. And yet, things still look and feel very, very different from life in February 2020 – in some ways better and in some ways worse.

As things begin to shift, it’s time to ask ourselves important questions in anticipation of a “new normal.” Questions such as:

What have you learned? – About yourself, about others, about what’s important, about our society and world, and about what’s not all that important. About health care, racial justice, epidemiology, technology, and food. What new learning do you want to intentionally keep and build upon?

What of this pandemic life do you want to let go of? In other words, what do you want to say NO to? – There is plenty we will be happy to leave behind like constant mask wearing, social distancing, fear of getting sick and dying, and limited travel and entertainment. But personally, in your life and in your mind and spirit, what else do you need to say no to? A limiting belief, a toxic relationship, putting yourself last, not speaking out against societal wrongs – what is it for you?

What do you want to hold on to? To say YES to? – Zoom, which is now synonymous with videoconferencing, can endure as a way to connect at home and at work. Mastery of new creative pursuits and hobbies can be a goal. New habits that you have developed can be locked in and ritualized like that midday walk or morning coffee with a friend or Sunday evening cooking with the whole family. And at a deeper level, your awareness of race and issues of identity can be a continued area of growth and learning, and perhaps even teaching and raising even more awareness. Do you want to commit to speaking up more often? Do you want to volunteer and organize? Will you ask for greater flexibility in your work schedule?

What do you now want from your work/career? – I have talked to some clients about the colleagues they have built new and deeper relationships with during the pandemic. It has been an opportunity to expand their view of their organization and increase their network. For others though, they have felt much less connection to colleagues and miss the impromptu moments in the office. Working from home has been a wonderful experience for many. For others it has brought greater isolation and disruption of needed routines. How do you want to move forward to find greater Thoughtfulness and satisfaction in the work you do and how you show up at work?

Is it time for a big, bold change? – For most of us, we have had more time to reflect on our lives, our relationships, our accomplishments, our own bias, and more. That chance to reflect may be leading you toward greater clarity and readiness for change. Some have taken big steps already – changing jobs, relocating, moving closer to loved ones, launching a side business, ending a relationship, or recommitting to one. What is it that you want to change for yourself and maybe for the world?

What will your new normal look like? – The answer begins with what you want for yourself going forward. There is an opportunity to reset – or you can go back to the way things were as best you can. Most of us desire something better, stronger, more fulfilling than what we had before. What is your ideal new normal, and what will you commit to in order to make it happen?

Who knows what things will look like and what our lives will be like in six months? We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, and there certainly is much more that needs to change. It’s not too soon to begin to capture and crystallize what has come from this unprecedented time in our lives, what you want to let go of, and what you want to solidify. Asking ourselves a few questions is a good start.

What are you saying no to and yes to?
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