On reflection

I wanted to write a blog post about a catch up I had with a colleague.

The conversation took place a few weeks into lockdown. We discussed various things, but as most conversations tend to do these days, we circled back to coronavirus and the impact it has had on businesses, society and the wellbeing of our friends and loved ones.

It was then that she told me that she had spent ten consecutive nights eating dinner at home and sleeping in her own bed, a treat indeed.

For most of us, it’s perfectly normal to eat and sleep at home every night, but for her, it was highly unusual.

Before coronavirus, she was always on the move. Her job required – and she enjoyed – attending international conferences, zipping across town for networking events and flying out to visit company offices around the world.

Her time was managed with military precision and, as you would expect, underpinned by a huge amount of forward planning and projecting. Her mind was always occupied with questions like what’s next on my ‘to do’ list? What do I need to plan for? Where should we go on holiday this summer?

And the planning extended to her home life too: making sure that her children were always taken care of, supported and nurtured, sorting out the weekly shop so there was always healthy food in the house, that her clothes were dropped off and collected from the drycleaners ready for the next work event or parent’s evening.

Coronavirus stopped the gatherings and the handshakes. It grounded the planes and it also grounded her. A change to routine is unsettling, however positive you are but I was impressed at how she dealt with it and would recommend it to you.

The way she treated it was that she was given a rare opportunity to stop, reflect and focus on the here and now.

Time had, in effect, been given back to her. The time she would’ve spent commuting, in departure lounges or waiting for her Uber to show up was now freed up to reflect.

Reflecting is so important. It has become more popular thanks to the mindfulness movement and risen to prominence with every report that says we’re becoming more and more anxious.

Reflecting is something we must all get into the habit of doing. If you don’t do it, you won’t know what you need to let go of, you’ll carry on in the same way for decades before you realise that what you’ve been doing hasn’t worked for you.

The more we get into the habit of reflecting, the easier it becomes for us to transition between each chapter of our lives, add meaning and find greater happiness.

Coronavirus has impacted the whole world in a myriad of complex and devastating ways. But I really believe that for those who feel able to, for those who find themselves with a bit more time, we should try to consider it as an opportunity to reflect, a gift we can give to ourselves.

What we went on to discuss is something I’m keen to share with you in this post: planning is really important and necessary, but if you’re focusing only on the future, you never really enjoy the present moment. You never really give yourself the chance to even ask the question, am I enjoying myself? Is this how I want my life to go? And perhaps one of the most difficult questions to ask yourself: what do I need to let go of?

It doesn’t matter what prompts people to reflect, only that we do and they continue to.

Another colleague shared that he had taken on the majority of the home schooling responsibilities – and had liked it. He enjoyed playing such a prominent, close role in their education. He enjoyed being around more. His kids seemed to thrive as a result. It prompted him to enquire, how do I feel about going back to ‘normal’? How can I design a life where I spend this valuable, treasured time with my family?

The process of reflection and transition is something my fellow coaches and I support people with.

It would be great to hear from readers how this unique situation has caused you to reflect on our lives, so do leave a message in the comments or share your thoughts in an anonymous survey. Promise to share the results!