Normalize the fact that things aren't normal right now. They're really not.
Follow along as our Editor in Chief, Carole McManus speaks to the importance of self-care, resilience, and openness during these uncertain times. Carole and Jeff were guests on the Quarantine Book Club discussing their new book: “Next For Me: A Guide To Change For Everybody.”
Among the topics discussed were: using this time to write about your interests and specialization, connecting with others in your field, and to lighten up on the pressure to do something great during this time. Things aren’t normal and it may not be the healthiest thing to try and “finish your novel”– getting through is good enough.
One of the things we talk about in the book is just being flexible and being willing and open to learning new things, which, we’ve found in many people that we’ve been talking to over the last few years, aren’t willing to be flexible, but I think this is a time now to rethink that attitude. We’re seeing restaurants turn into take away places, right? They’re shifting in that way or we’re seeing distilleries making hand sanitizer and things like that. We need to just watch this moment and watch what’s going on around us and seeing how other people are being resilient and taking inspiration from that. What’s going on now every day. It changes, right? Every single day it changes. So, um, if there’s one takeaway from what we’ve written in this particular book, it’s, it’s having a willingness to be resilient and, and embrace change.
We really put a lot of emphasis on being adaptable throughout your career and just acknowledging the fact that things are always going to change. Technology is going to change. The opportunities out there are going to change over the course of your career. Maybe even the things that you’re interested in are gonna change. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, through the lens of quarantine and everything, of just being adaptable and also being gentle with yourself too. There’s a whole section of our book about self care and I’ve certainly put a lot of that into practice over the last several weeks. I’m just being mindful of that because there’s so many people doing these amazing projects and posting them on social media and going “Oh look at my half-finished novel” or did you know that Shakespeare wrote King Lear when he was under quarantine?
It’s really, really important to maybe take a step back and acknowledge the things that you really need–the basics. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs– starting from that and then working up to your big novel, or your big startup, or the next big thing that you’re going to.
I think it’s really important to acknowledge that things are not normal right now. And it’s that way for everybody and we have to remind ourselves that, because nobody’s looking at you critically right now or they shouldn’t be. Cause if they are, they’re insane. I think if we just all come out of this, relatively unscathed it’s a win, you know?
You do literally can’t predict the future and at this point we’re taking it one day at a time. I sort of appreciate that, and I’ve actually gone back to some of the exercises we put together. It does let you kslow it down and really look at things one bit at a time. And if you need something to be doing right now, we’ve got these exercises that have looking at your network. Who is it that you want to kind of bring into your confidence with your next step? Who’s in a position to give you advice about what might be your next opportunity after the craziness is over?
You feel like you want to be doing something for your career. Well you’re probably not going to be getting a job interview anytime soon. So maybe take a step back and think about what is it that’s important to you in your next big thing. What are the values you bring to the table? What are the things that you really, really liked about your last gig? What are the things that you miss about something that you did 10 years ago? And really just taking a step back and looking at it through that lens.
We talk a lot about writing in our book. Write about what it is you’re thinking about. And that becomes a conversation starter, right? So start a blog now. It’s a great time to start a blog and use that as a way to kick it off.
Whatever it is that you’re putting out there in the world use the social media at your disposal to put yourself out in the world and make other people aware of what you’re talking about. Engage with folks on social media–the ones who are doing the things that you would like to be doing. The ones who inspire you in any way. Now we have time on our hands we can engage with folks and do some reading. Be generous with the things that you share. Be generous with retweeting folks who you think are putting good things out in the world and that’ll come back to you. And in good ways, put it out there.
Normalize the fact that things aren’t normal right now. They’re really not.
We have to be forgiving of ourselves and be forgiving of other people as well. But on the flip side, I would say, there’s, there’s ups and downs to this. You have good days and you have bad days. So I would say when you’re having a good day, take advantage of it. Get the thing done, do the project, whatever it is that is important to you. Get that done when you’re having your, your good days. Because when the bad days inevitably come, then you can ease off a little bit and say, you know what? I’ve been productive for the last three days. Today I’m feeling really down. I’m going to watch a dumb movie, and, and that’s all I’m going to do today and do a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a balance.
There’s no way we’re going to be as productive as we were in a work environment. There’s just no way with all the distractions and everything, even if you live alone, even if you don’t have a pet to take care of, it’s still not normal. I think we need to start by just being honest and being honest with our close circle and with our communities and stuff about how this is affecting us.
We hold things close to our chest. We don’t tell people how much money we make. We don’t let those things be made known. I think we need to start being open and honest about these kinds of things–how this has impacted us, the kinds of things that you know have happened as a result of all this. Collectively, I mean as a community we are stronger and I can only hope that the fact that this is affecting privileged people as well as people who are, who have always been struggling. I hope that the fact that privileged people are experiencing this as well makes a difference.
My son goes to a school with a lot of non-native English speakers. A lot of folks, first generation immigrants are struggling, They’re still struggling with getting the whole online learning thing happening and getting kids access to Chromebooks so that they can do this. San Francisco Unified School district is actually contemplating giving all kids A’s for the rest of the year so that everyone has an even playing field. I think that that’s indicative of hopefully larger change that’s going to happen as we realize how difficult these folks have always had it because just because we’re now experiencing some discomfort ourselves. So if we can muster the energy and the momentum from all of this and pull together after this, I think that’s where the seeds of change happen. I think the seeds of change happened in politics as a lot of this comes down to who is in charge and who we’ve put there.
So I think as part of smaller communities and stuff, we can make change happen starting at a local level and working our way up from there. If we learned anything from this, it’s reaching out to one another and creating that community where we can, whether that’s on zoom or some other way online, and just keeping that momentum, we’re excited that we’re able to kind of bring this out now when people are maybe reinventing themselves or needing to think about new ways to bring in income.