When 2020 began, many of us had big plans that probably included starting a new project or job, travelling to different countries, fulfilling items on a bucket list, spending time with friends and family, having a big wedding or party, attending networking events to meet people and more. Little did we know what was coming down the line and how much our lives may change.
As I reflect on the past few weeks and how lives and plans have been impacted with everything going on in the world, I realised that it is important and healthy we also recognise the positive gifts these uncertain and challenging times have presented, as we stay hopeful for the future. Here are some lockdown gifts I identified. I hope they encourage you as we all navigate and transition to the ‘new normal.’
- More time – While this has been a very busy time for those on the front line, many of us have been presented with an opportunity to slow down, self care, explore passions we had no time for before and spend more time with those we care about. In the ‘old normal’ the vast majority of us hardly had time for self or family – Everything moved so fast. But in the ‘present normal’ most of us are not spending hours travelling to and fro work, and this is valuable time we may not have previously thought possible for the things we love.
- New perspectives and possibilities – From showing us (employers and employees) that it is actually possible to work from home and be productive (with many organisations setting up infrastructure to support thousands of remote workers in a matter of days) to showing it is possible to have virtual parties or conferences, shut borders and build hospitals in 10 days or less, the pandemic has made us all think out of the box and challenge the breadth of what is possible – thereby offering us new and possibly cheaper ways of doing things in the ‘new normal.’
- Less spending and more savings – I don’t know about you but I realised I have definitely made some savings these past few weeks. With all the uncertainty and queues at supermarkets, I found myself budgeting more and thinking more about what I really need and when. In addition, going out less has meant less spending on train tickets, fuel and impulsive shopping, while closed salons, barbers and eateries have meant many are resorting to DIY and so less spending on hair, takeaways and the likes. The lockdown is hard yet it’s been a change to spending behaviour with some positive financial benefits.
- More meaningful connections and community – It is often said that hard times have a way of bringing people together. Never has it been better shown than at such a time as this when the world is feeling the same pain and rallying around together to find a solution. The fact that we have been asked to socially distance has meant that family and friends value each other more, check up on each other more and are finding innovative ways to stay connected; everyone is focusing more on what is most important – checking you are okay and coping well. Chances are you also likely heard from someone you’ve not heard from in a long time and conversed about things that really matter.
- New skills and hobbies – From taking up baking to trying out new crafts, virtual fitness programs and more, it is no secret that many have indulged in something new as a means of getting through the crisis, that may likely be beneficial to us beyond this pandemic. Even parents have learnt teaching skills and a lot of patience through homeschooling that will benefit families.
There is no doubt that these are strange and tough times particularly for those directly impacted by covid-19. Yet as we all try to navigate this season, I hope some of these unplanned gifts encourage you to keep going. Stay safe and stay well.
*Finding the good in the mess mindset*
Have you identified any other unplanned gifts and like to share? Why not do so in the comments box below.
© Dr Vivian O. Ikem, 2020