We are still living through the coronavirus, with different rules depending on where you live and many people subject to additional local lockdown restrictions. 

    Yet as we enter this second phase, the real thick of lockdown that we saw early on has perhaps started to feel more like a distant memory.

    But for those of us starting to get closer to normality (and there could be a lot of back and forth over the next six months), I would urge a note of caution.  

    If you were among the fortunate ones to be relatively untouched by the virus and its economic fallout, you may have discovered some good stuff during such a sharp break from your daily working habits. 

    If so, let's not lose that - whatever it was for you.

    Some of it might already feel a little hazy, so take a moment now to note down three things or new habits you're thankful for that wouldn't have happened without lockdown.

    Because now is a really sensitive time. Those new habits will be stress tested with the gradual return of many of our familiar habits, comforts and distractions.

    We need to be intentional about keeping and building on the habits that we want to stay.

    Getting off the conveyor belt

    For me, those habits are easy to identify:

    1. Walking in nature - nothing extravagant or particularly awe-inspiring. There’s just a nearby park that helps me escape the clutter of my head and bring me fully present.

    2. Meditating 20 minutes a day - again, helping to de-clutter the mind somewhat. Some time to just 'be', aside from the busy 'doing' of my day-to-day.

    3. Developmental reading - for me, this is related to behavioural science, history, leadership, communication and psychology. The more I read, the more I keep my imagination fuelled.

    Please note - this is not a prescription, nor is it an attempt to demonstrate the strides in personal growth I’ve made during the pandemic. Far from it. Lockdown certainly didn’t feel in any way linear on this front.

    However, I do know that all three of these things are essential to my personal development in terms of happiness, presence and my ability to stay inspired, creative and energised. These are all so important in my role.

    Yet, however clearly I saw this during lockdown, with just a few months of a semblance of normal service resuming, some of this clarity had been muddied.

    While it was clearly difficult, it was also arguably a little simpler when we were all locked up inside our homes - banned from the outside bar the shop run or our daily exercise. 

    With it came a ban from the distractions where we’d been busily seeking our happiness but likely getting no nearer, just endlessly consuming...things.

    I've already dropped off on all three habits to the detriment of my happiness and effectiveness.

    I know this sounds cliched, but I feel that lockdown, with the absence of external distractions and noise, forced us to look within.

    From the many conversations I've had professionally and personally, it sounds like lockdown stimulated something of an awakening for many.

    It allowed us to take the time to understand ourselves more and seize back control from the conveyor belt of everyday life. It was an opportunity to reassess a lot about our lives.

    Full disclosure - I had no children to home-school, and my business partner is keen to remind me that not everyone’s home was a haven of peace, introspection and self-discovery.

    Neither am I advocating a state of permanent lockdown.

    The point I’m trying to make is that it was a pause. A break from the day-to-day doing with no space for being.

    Being more aware

    So as we stand at what may be a turning point, I’ll return to some questions I asked myself back in the thick of lockdown:

    Do we want to go back to normal?

    How was that doing for us?

    Were you happy? Were you operating at your best?

    How well do we really know ourselves?

    As you answer these questions, pick out the three lockdown habits that helped you know and understand yourself better, and made you feel happier all round.

    Write them down. Plan how you will keep them in your life as we (hopefully) start to return to normality.

    That way we’ll all enjoy the fruits of coming back together, having taken something tangible and lasting from the period of isolation. More self aware, more conscious, more awake than before.

    Let's not go back to sleepwalking.

    I promise your clients will thank you for it.

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