We may not be able to plan tomorrow’s newspaper headlines, but we can surely plan the day. During these days anxious weeks stuck in quarantine, I have found that creating little schedules is exactly what the doctor ordered to make me feel calm, cool, collected, and optimistic.
Everything in our lives can be organized and/or scheduled. From the workday to the laundry rotation. There is power in realizing that control is always available to you. But it comes with a caveat: most external factors we cannot control, what we can do is control ourselves, our thoughts, and our reactions.
Yes, the zoom meeting probably won't work as planned. No, Publix is still out of toilet paper and no one can stop your toddler from throwing another tantrum while you’re trying to talk to a client. Let's get used to the discomfort. You must keep planning your day to gain a sense of control over your life—you’ll feel this even if you end up throwing that plan out the window. The point is to organize yourself, your thoughts and your priorities.
Once you get yourself into the habit of making a daily plan and determining your priorities, you can then align your actions with those priorities. Step by step you get it all done. You make those little promises to yourself with deadlines.
It’s those small promises, the tiniest teeniest little thing that you do when no one was looking, that makes the biggest difference.
Sometimes that tiny thing is you eating the rest of the Twix bars from the Halloween candy stash. But sometimes, it’s pushing to get the workout in or staying up late to write that blog--- because you promised yourself that it MUST get done on Monday. These small victories add up. Keeping a promise to yourself is the most important thing you can do to improve your life.
Some days it is that simple. It’s easy to command yourself to rise triumphantly over all the excuses that you create. Other days it is not. On those days, you must continue. You plan. You promise. You do. Little-by-little- you’ll see that by keeping those promises you are creating inner strength. You can gain perspective even in the darkest of moments. You’re able to pull yourself out of the muck and mire toward the light. And it’s all because you said “yes” to you.
As challenging as this moment is for all of us, I find solace in the fact that we do have a choice. We have a choice to use this time to improve our lives or to wither away in despair. Positivity ebbs and flows for most of us. Yet, many have decided to be intentional about how we use our Quarantine Time. We play with the kids (or dogs). Check-in with loved ones. Stay connected via virtual social gatherings. Stay up until the wee hours of the morning working. We push to work out, to be mindful, to make healthy meals, to do all the things.
Life has certainly been amplified. While this can feel overwhelming at times, don’t allow yourself to feel that stress. The beauty of this moment is that there is no time to feel overwhelmed because you have to be strong. You need to show up for your family, collogues, and especially yourself.
The best thing to do is to focus on the things that give you strength. Celebrate those things without shame. Yeah, the kids may have had way too much screen time, but you were able to send that proposal on time. Sure, you hid in the laundry room watching Steven Colbert with the door locked but that 10 minutes of laughter revived you for the next zoom call. Honor these things.
We all feel that tension now. This moment in quarantine is a great equalizer for all of us. And while we may complain, no one can deny how unplugging and disconnecting has allowed us to reconnect as human beings. It’s all matter of perspective.
What is your perspective? There is no hiding from the fact that our inner thoughts manifest in our lives. We may be having new experiences, but many of the feelings and emotions aren't new. We know how to deal with these things and therein lies our opportunity to take control.
Don’t let this time slip away. Use it to dig deep within yourself and start clearing out the old stories and limiting beliefs that are holding you back. Plan to read something that makes you think. Plan to set a health goal that will make you so proud to achieve. Plan to take 3 minutes out of your day to step outside yourself and observe that voice inside your head. Now is the time to do all of this and more.
The path of self-improvement doesn’t end after the quarantine is lifted. We’ll just be beginning. Until then, remember to be the light. Carry it with you always because the panic and despair are always there. Be the one that people look to see a bright future.
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