It’s time to personally reintegrate with the professional world and figure out how to operate in the new normal — which, coincidentally, is looking like it’s not going to be too different from the old normal.
That said, one of the main differences between now and then is that there are shards of opportunity scattered everywhere, waiting to be seized upon. You can feel it the moment you step outside.
It’s time to step outside.
Many of us went into some kind of professional hibernation when Lockdown Spring turned into Lockdown Summer and then eventually Lockdown Year.
Plus a couple months more.
I’m not trying to motivate you. All I’m trying to do is to get you to think about coming out of 2021 as better than you were going into 2020. The good news is that with all setbacks follows the inevitable bounce back.
It’s time to grab hold with both hands and ride that bounce.
That starts with getting back to work
If you have the opportunity to go to work in an office or other place of business, I implore you to start taking steps to recover that routine. You’ve missed it, but you aren’t going to realize how much until you go back to it. Obviously, personal and public safety rules apply, but if the restrictions have come off, it’s time to shake them off vigorously.
I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been right there at the forefront, railing against the wasted productivity spent in an office building eight hours a day, five days a week, especially when those hours are sandwiched between two slices of who-knows-how-long-it’s-gonna-be-today commute.
But there are limits. The lockdown sucked the productivity and ambition out of all of us, one Zoom meeting at a time.
It’s a new normal, and it’s time to figure out the pros and cons.
Get your mojo back
Even if you don’t have a place to show up to every day, it’s time to show up, period. Even if you’re not ready to get back to the workplace or you’ve changed your career gears or had them changed for you.
It’s time to stop talking about all the things we can’t do.
Wait. We don’t do that? Do we?
Yeah. We do. It crept up our backs like a silent monkey. The longer we stayed inside, the longer we worked and socialised remotely, the longer we had to make alternate plans and workarounds for those simple things we used to do every day, the easier it became to tell ourselves that we don’t do those things anymore. That quickly turns into we can’t do those things anymore. Then we stop trying to do them.
The world didn’t forget how to be competitive during quarantine; it just wasn’t really allowed, so many people walked away. The game is back on, and it’s going to take a mind shift of substantial proportions to relearn the muscle memory that fueled that competitive drive. This can’t happen from the couch, the home office, or in a Zoom meeting.
Redefine work-life balance
It’s time to start rebuilding the wall between work and life. That’s right. One of the great things about going to work is getting to leave work and return to your life. But, unfortunately, over the last year, that balance has been blurred into sameness, with virtually no separation between home life and work life.
Yeah, I still work from when I get up in the morning to when I go to bed at night, but that should be because I choose to, not because I can’t escape it.
The sooner we get back to work, the sooner we can reclaim our lives.
There’s a lot to do
We’re not out of the woods yet. But there’s now blinding light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve got careers to get back on track, vocations to rebuild, goals to resume achieving, satisfaction to chase.
Great things to do.
We’re un-paused now. Lean into it.
The moment you start, you’ll realise that you didn’t hate that commute as much as you think you did. Travel time was time to think and reset and get creative, making plans in your head that you might not even carry out, but plans that sparked ideas.
Being in sweatpants all day sucks. Sitting on a couch all day sucks. Staring at a screen all day sucks. The thing is, I was tired of it three months into lockdown, but I got comfortable with it six months into lockdown. Too comfortable.
We all did.
Again, I’m not asking you to get out there and change the world. Those muscles have atrophied. I’m just saying it’s time to start establishing human contact and the feeling of belonging.
Man, I missed that.
And you can’t belong if you’re sitting on the sidelines while everyone else is playing the game.
Joe Procopio is a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. He is the founder of startup advice project TeachingStartup.com and is the Chief Product Officer of mobile vehicle care and maintenance startup Get Spiffy. You can read all his posts at joeprocopio.com
If you want more direct advice and answers, look into Teaching Startup.