COVID disrupted everyone’s lives, no matter your zip code, looks, or where you went to school.
Experts report that COVID could take some women back decades in the workplace as they stepped back professionally to lean down into the domestic realities of no school or childcare and non-stop meal service. Indeed, the more resourced, the better women faired, but still, COVID left its mark on all of us. The truth is a lot of women, especially those in the middle of life, were lost before COVID arrived. Of course, they were busy – working or volunteering, raising and launching their kids, helping their aging parents, and more, but many were going through the motions on autopilot, without intentionality. The lock down of COVID leveled life out and put everyone on a significant pause. It demanded we be introspective.
At first, we got creative with the gift of time – we baked bread, bought exercise equipment, and cleaned our desks and closets. We got comfortable on Zoom. As hard as it was, we saw bright spots: more family dinners, more sleep, more dog walking, and puzzles galore. Beyond warm bread and tired dogs, Marcelo Gleiser, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College, framed it and called us to action last March with an opinion piece featured on CNN, “The year 2020 will be remembered as a turnaround point in human history. Not just because many will die, but because the Covid-19 pandemic is offering us a chance to reinvent ourselves.”
Now, thanks to science, we can see the light at the end of this tunnel, women need to regroup and make a game plan. Given the average American woman is slated to live to be about 81 years old, women north of 45 are on a pretty tight timeline for a re-branding campaign. So, what are you waiting for – MAKE. IT. COUNT. Now is the time to change the status quo and say no to stereotypes, no to other people’s expectations. Now is the time to figure out what you want to do in this new post-COVID world, and what you want to do with your one wild and precious life (thanks, Mary Oliver).
Uncovering the answer to that question is challenging and is no task for the weary – and boy, are we tired after a year plus of this pandemic. But here is the truth – the answer is within reach for you. Here’s why: because in addition to COVID blowing up your life, it also unearthed and probably moved you. Your priorities may have shifted or maybe they just became clearer; for some, it’s subtle, for others dramatic.
Let’s put Mary Oliver’s heady question to the side, and ask yourself this: Do you want to go back to your pre-Covid life? Were you highjacked by other people’s expectations? Are you ready to put it all on the table and take a hard look at your values and what drives you? Are you willing to be vulnerable? If you are nodding your head, you are ready for the journey, and full of possibility for post-pandemic you.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Set aside some time and space for you to think uninterrupted about yourself.
- Get clear on your values and what you care about.
- Envision your ideal future in the next five years – what do you really want?
- Make an actionable plan how to achieve your goals.
- Stack the deck in your favor by saying no more (a lot more) and being accountable to yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Consider putting together a personal board of directors or growth advisors.
- Measure progress seasonally.
- Celebrate small (and big) wins.
- Get comfortable with change and iterate as you go. Embrace yourself as a project in perpetual beta.
- Be nice to yourself; treat yourself like you would your best friend.
This is a fresh chance to dig deep, call the questions and shape your future. For some, it may be a reinvention and relaunch, and others just a tweak here or there. Some women can do this work on their own. Others prefer to be in community – or a hive as we like to call it. No matter how, the clock is ticking. What are you waiting for?
Nanette Fridman and Melissa Radin Goldstone co-founded NEXT, a self-discovery and coaching program and community that helps women north of 45 years old call life’s important questions, align their personal and professional values and goals, and live their NEXT on purpose. Nanette and Melissa have taken what they learned through 20+ years working as consultants and coaches to help women in small groups and individually get clear on what they want and how to get there.