First…I hope all my 50+ friends and colleagues are staying safe and sound this week.
Just when I was getting ready to enjoy the next phase of my life, everything changed. My travel plans, my work aspirations, and my self-care routine were all upended.
I allowed myself a week of self-pity, regret, comfort eating, and sloth.
Then I put on my big girl pants and thought back to all the other times in my life when “sudden snatches” (as my younger daughter calls them) disrupted the next phase of my “pretirement” — that phase of my life when I planned to enjoy independence, sun, travel, and a new career path.
I channeled my inner Erma Bombeck and started looking for practical and fun ways to craft the next 30 days of social distancing. Here are my tips:
- To-do lists are more important than ever. Begin every week and each day with tiny yet meaningful goals.
- Include self-care in your plans. Whether you take a long (socially-distant) walk each day, get 8 hours of sleep each night, or commit to a healthy eating plan, take simple steps toward staying active and maintaining your self-esteem. This is a great time to think about the passions you had when you were younger and may have back-burnered and put them on the front of your cerebral stove.
- Get your tech on. I’ve encountered many people who have never Zoomed or Slacked or who have allowed their LinkedIn profile to gather dust. The self-quarantine presents a terrific opportunity to amp-up your automation game. Knowing how to use apps can not only help you connect with others but also make you more employable in the long run.
- Be crafty. Handcrafts are relaxing and making gifts for others (or even sewing face masks gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Channel your inner artist. Try a new recipe. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Or simply order a coloring book and be a kid again.
- Join a virtual book group. Pick one (business, history, or fiction) that interests you. You’ll stretch your brain and make new online friends. Not a joiner? Sign up for a GoodReads profile and discover a whole new community of readers.
- Find creative ways to connect with family and friends. Rock-out with a virtual dance-off with your kids and grandkids.
- Avoid toxic people and depressing news. Stay informed, but don’t ingest negativity.
- Offer to help and mentor younger people who lost jobs, are working from home for the first time, or simply stressing-out. Helping others is a great way to alleviate your own anxiety and remind yourself how much you’ve experienced and have to offer.
- Schedule at least one (old school) phone call each day with someone you like or haven’t talked to in a long time. “Talking to strangers” can also lead to new friends, business relationships, and activity partners (when we’re all allowed out again).
- Map out your post-pandemic plan. Make a list that begins with, “When this is over, I will….” Mine includes visiting my kids and grandkids, getting back to New York and LA, and planning that long-overdue trip to Italy. Dreaming about the future makes dealing with the present easier.
We’ve made at least five trips around the sun. This latest one is going to be turbulent and often stressful.
Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, think about the tough times that you’ve survived throughout your life and remind yourself of your resilience and experience.
One day you’ll look back on this time and think of all the new things you were able to do during the pandemic of 2020.
You’ll tell your grandkids or other young people. And they’ll probably roll their eyes, just as I did when my Nana Molly talked about her struggles.
But you won’t really care. Because you survived and thrived!