For some of you, your states may be starting out on their path to re-opening, for many others you are a month out from knowing. Regardless of your timeline, sometime in the future, normalcy will return and this period of our life will live on, hopefully, as a once in a lifetime experience.
But as we continue to live with this period of uncertainty, of anxiety and of disruption to a life we may have been taking for granted, I urge you to reflect on one incredibly important question, what exactly are my priorities and how do I want my life to look in a post-COVID-19 world? Or as Dave Hollis said, "In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to."
Over the years I've made it a priority as a leader and also as a human on a personal growth journey, to break down the idea of success. Some quick background, I was raised to place a high value on material things, wealth, recognition, social status and pedigree - believing these alone defined your success. As a child and young adult who lacked almost all of this, I always felt not enough and believed that if I could just achieve a great fortune, filled my life up with expensive material things, achieved social status and exclusive country club memberships - THEN I would be successful and THEN I would be enough and THEN I would be happy. And so, as ashamed as I am to admit, these became my priorities in life as I started businesses and interacted with the world.
It's taken me a long time to see how flawed this thinking was. Truthfully, I didn't fully understand it until a few months ago - COVID-19 has continued to shine a bright light on the ugliness of where my priorities were. But it also has shone a light on the beauty of what makes me happy, what I value and has helped me to re-define what success means to me.
This period of time is allowing us, for those who can and those who choose, to really focus on the meaning and priorities in your life. And so, I encourage you to explore what a successful life and existence looks like to you.
For me, COVID-19 continues to threaten losing everything I've spent 8 years building, of the identity and role I've defined myself by - entrepreneur, owner, designer, etc. I've had to reflect on what I would be and what would be "left of me" should I lose that identity.
This reflection, which may never have happened without COVID-19, has been eye-opening. I've found through countless hours of reflection that while I've spent years prioritizing these identities and roles, that they do not actually define me. I will be okay without them because what actually makes me happy in life, what I'm "rushing" to get back to you has very little to do with these identities.
I've defined my priorities as my relationships with friends and family, human connection, laughter and fun, supporting those who at moments cannot support themselves, exploring both the world and myself through travel, self-educating and books, spending time in nature, nurturing my body and my mental health, building a family and being a mother and my freedom to do all of the above on my own schedule/timeline...just to name a few.
Nowhere in my priorities do you see wealth, exclusive country club memberships, social status or material things. Now that doesn't mean that money isn't important to me or shouldn't be important to you. But I see money now not as a badge to prove I'm worth something, but as a tool to achieve the life I truly desire.
All of your priorities will require tools to achieve them - and you should always work towards building with those tools, but don't mix up your tools with your priorities by placing a higher value on them. Let your life be driven by your priorities, not by the tools to achieve them.
And so, I challenge you this week to sit down and reflect on what it is that you are so excited to rush back to. And what it is that you are not. How has this time shifted what you value and what do not? What are your priorities and what are the tools you need to achieve and maintain them?
I'll leave you with my favorite quote by T.S. Eliot, “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time."