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By Sid Madge, Meee
It’s been 16 months. Covid took most of us by surprise and we didn’t anticipate what it would do to our lives. Like me you may be ready for it all to be over – completely.
I’m a great believer in ‘micro-moments, the ability to change our lives at any moment, and how to use these tiny manageable interventions to gain positive momentum – even when things are challenging. I’ve written three Meee in a Minute books, each offering 60 one-minute micro-ideas and insights that can help us to shift our perception in life, family, and at work.
I thought we could turn Covid on its head and use the word as a handy acronym. Let me share how I see using C.O.V.I.D to help us in the final stage of the journey we’ve been on for 16 months.
C/Create a much better situation
The pandemic itself has been a nightmare. But it has brought some stillness and reflection into many of our lives. Forced, at least temporarily, to exit the hamster wheel of our busy lives, we have been given a unique opportunity to stop, breathe and ponder. And that stillness seems to have created a real desire for change. According to a YouGov poll, only 8% of Britons want to go back to life as it was before the pandemic.
What’s shifted is that many of us have come to appreciate, perhaps for the first time in many years, what’s really important. And it’s not been what we thought it was. Primarily that reconnection to what’s important has come from extended periods at home with family, but it is also encouraging us to consider what life is going to be like after. C is an invitation to create something new or better. Something that works for all the parts of your life.
Perhaps you’ve decided you want to change jobs, move house, or start your own business? Does that pipe dream that always seemed too far away seem doable now? Perhaps you’ve decided that maybe part-time would be a nice compromise. The more, better, bigger consumption wheel no longer seems that important. Perhaps all you really want is to go for a coffee and give your friend a hug! What does better look like for you now?
Take a minute to consider your current situation. Imagine the pandemic is a distant memory – what is your ideal life like now? Forget about bold dreams and grand gestures, focus on the little things, the insights you’ve learned in this stillness about what makes you happy – go after more of that.
O/ Optimism makes finding opportunity easier
Are you a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full sort of person? Most of us believe we are one of the other and yet science has proven that actually, we operate across a range that is influenced by genetic, our environment, and our mindset. By far the biggest contributors are environment and mindset. Genetics is a tiny player in our optimism levels.
Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, suggests that pessimism is largely learned. Which means it can be unlearned. The key is through what he called ‘explanatory style’. This is the way we draw meaning from events and situations that we face. Those with learned helplessness, i.e., Uber pessimism, tend to see things as personal, pervasive, and permanent. In other words, when things go wrong, a pessimist will always assume that it’s their fault. A missed train is always their fault regardless of whether the train left early, or they were indeed a bit late to the platform. Pervasive relates to how the negative event will impact their life.
“A missed train is always their fault”
For a pessimist, a missed train will inevitably ‘infect’ other areas of their life. A missed train is confirmation of their uselessness, or spells the end of their relationship, or may even lead to ill health. And finally, whatever’s wrong is permanent. That’s gloomy – right? Whereas an optimist will do the opposite. A missed train is just a missed train, it has nothing to do with them personally. This might be a little delusional too if they were so busy talking to a friend, they didn’t see the train arrive at the platform, but for an optimistic outlook, not taking things personally is key. There is no spillage between a missed train or failed exam and their work or relationship – a poor result or negative outcome in one area will not necessarily impact any other area of their life. And finally, bad news is just transitory. It too shall pass.
Optimism just feels better, and it gives us access to more resources. Besides, it’s more real. Nothing is permanent, not even Covid. Flip the switch for a while. See every challenge as beyond your control, that is certainly true of Covid. That’s not to say you avoid responsibility, we all still need to do our bit and stay safe. If things are challenging in one part of your life, don’t allow that upset to seep into other areas. Instead, be grateful for all the things that are still working and are still going well. When we nudge our way to the optimistic end of our range, we will see more opportunity, and we just feel better.
V/Values will express what’s most important and keep you focused
Everything we do can be explained by our values. Our actions and behaviour are usually a living expression of those values. Do you know what your values are?
When I worked in the world of branding, we used to help organisations get clear on what their values were, so they could understand the impact they were having on the business, behaviour, recruitment and culture.
When I started the Meee Programme I created something similar – a set of 56 values cards. We ask participants to look through the cards and pick five values that resonate with them or that they want to demonstrate in their life. Take a minute to visit the Meee website (www.meee.global) and take part in the values exercise – this will help you to identify what your values are. What’s most important to you in your life? Money? Family? Kindness? Honesty? What do you stand for? What are your ethics or code of conduct? Can you see evidence of these values in your life? For example, if you believe you value kindness, when did you last demonstrate kindness? If you really want to know what you value look at what you do. Use your values to keep you focused on what’s really important. Has COVID changed your values?
I/ Involve those needing your help, love, support and leadership
Humans are social creatures. This is a huge part of why Covid has been such a nightmare for so many. The threat of the illness itself is almost secondary to the loss of contact with those we love. No hugs, no meeting for a coffee or a couple of beers. But we can still get involved and stay connected.
Maybe slip a note through a neighbour’s door to make sure they are OK. Can you do some shopping for someone who needs a little extra help? Pick up the phone and actually make a call. Not a WhatsApp or Instagram comment. Just call them. Have a chat. The Samaritans have been promoting a brilliant idea – Brew Monday. Instead of Blue Monday, they suggest making a brew and calling someone for a natter. Set up a quiz and get all your friends on it by Zoom. Now that we have a little more freedom, go for a walk, get out into nature. Whatever you do – reach out, get involved. We might not be able to do all the things we used to do quite yet, but we can still talk and stay connected. Hugs should be coming soon. Can’t wait!
D/ Dial down the stress
I know this is easier said than done, but invest in self-care, offer kindness and hope to yourself and others. Be gentle with yourself. Make sure you eat properly and get out into nature if you can. Do some form of exercise or activity a few times a week – it will help to discharge any stress you feel. Take some time to wind down – give meditation or yoga a go. There are loads of free resources online.
Cycle back to ‘I’ – our stress levels are usually reduced when we have company. A problem shared is a problem halved. It may not be the same as it was just yet but we can still keep in touch, talk and laugh. And most of all remember, this too shall pass.
Let’s use COVID to reset our lives in all areas. Let’s use it to stop and consider the path we are on, and whether that path still suits us. Do we want more? Do we want different? By using the time wisely, we can regroup and make the coming months so much better for ourselves and our loved ones.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sid Madge is founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives.
To date, Meee has transformed the lives of over 20,000 people, from leaders of PLC’s and SME’s to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates.
Sid Madge is also author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.