Don’t Go Back to Normal. Instead, Focus on Becoming Better

At this moment, so many people say they just want what they had – to get back to their “normal.”

I get it. We are creatures of habit. We like the normal, the routine, the comfortable.

But when we truly stop and notice, I think many people will realize they were not living healthy, being kind, respecting the planet or bringing their A-game to work. We were caught up in doing the same old, same old. We were getting by. We were in habit mode, just moving through life on autopilot.

But COVID-19 changed it all. The pandemic became our stop and notice moment; it forced us to reflect on how things were and challenged us to do things we never thought we could (or would have to). For example, you never thought you’d teach your kids at home and now you do. You never thought you could work remotely and now you do. You never thought you wouldn’t be able to go anywhere, anytime and now you can’t. You never thought you would be able to be at home for a week without going out, and you did.

So much has changed.

So why rush back to your old ways when you see you are capable of new – and better?

I’ve shared the rule my father had for my 5 siblings and me when we were younger, and it applies here: constantly ask yourself as you are faced with the things going on in your moment, “What could I do to make this better?”

COVID-19 gave us an amazing opportunity to reset, to step to the side, view our work and lives and give us time to decide what to do next.

You can be upset at this interruption and the changes in your life, or you can refocus your energy and use this unique moment to take inventory of what worked and didn’t work in your old version of normal. Then, with greater clarity, commit to creating a new “normal” that builds on what worked before and eliminates or moves past the things that did not work.

Focus on making things better. Better relationships. Better work. Better at home. Better health. Better finances. Better hobbies. Better planet. Better neighbor. Better habits.

The thing I have learned most about COVID-19 is that we are stronger and more capable of handling change than we think. When push comes to shove, we can do it. When no pushing and no shoving occurs, we don’t do it. Spend a moment with that. Why is it we respond only when we are backed into a corner?

We have had a tough moment. And it won’t be our last one. But no moment in time is ever wasted. Each moment has a lesson for us if we choose to see it and use it.

Don’t waste this one.

Take Action
Don’t be in a rush to return to normal. “Normal” may have had a lot of things you didn’t like about your work and life.

Don’t be in a rush to get back to comfortable. Comfortable didn’t help you build and achieve goals.

Don’t go back. Go forward. Commit to reinventing a better normal, one that uses your abilities more, treats others more kindly, respects the planet like the sacred place it is, shares more generously, responds more quickly and acts more intentionally.

Don’t let people push you back into normal. Hold out for better. Push for better. Insist on better.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How to Move Forward When You Don’t Know Where you are Going

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What If You Had No Limits?

By Jay Forte

Imagine living in a world where you can be anything you want to be. You have all the resources you need to achieve this. You have all the support you need to reach your goals.

With nothing holding you back, what would you choose?

Most of us don’t know because we struggle to imagine having no limits. Why? Because we are faced with an endless list of limitations every day, from ability to time, to resources, to support. That, coupled with the fact that our world is quick to remind us that life is filled with limitations, often results in choosing to be practical and play things safe.

But just imagine what you could do when those limitations are acknowledged as hurdles and not road blocks. 

See, when you acknowledge a limit and work with it, you can start to have better control over your capabilities. You can allow yourself to invent, create and imagine all that is meaningful and valuable in you because you push yourself to the edges and consider things that may have otherwise been ignored. You start to say what matters to you. You move past playing small.

If you don’t dream it, you can’t achieve it.

Our greatest lives are those that have moved us past our comfort zones, past what we think we can achieve, and introduced us to abilities and strengths we never knew we had. When we are afraid to try, afraid to push our limits, we prevent ourselves from discovering how amazing we are and what those amazing abilities can help us achieve. Our lack of self-awareness keeps us focused on our limits and playing small.

To push to your edges and challenge your limits, start asking questions like, “What if…” and “How about…”

For example:

  • What if I went back to college and pursued a degree in something I am passionate about?
  • What if I took the job I want to take instead of staying local where my family and friends are?
  • What if I applied for the role in the company others say is too big for me, but I totally can see myself in it?
  • Let’s imagine that we wrap this project and beat the deadline by a full week – what would that look like?
  • How about redefining this role in the company to include a remote or gig employee?
  • How about living in another country for a year?

We build limits to keep ourselves safe, but overtime, the limits we set for ourselves are often the very ones that box us in, making life and work smaller and less fulfilling. As a result, we can only truly live a fraction of our potential.

So, be self-aware. Go for the greatest image, vision or opportunity possible. Imagine, invent and create. You can scale things back if you need to, but give it a try first.

What could you create if you had no limits?

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. In what areas in work and life do you impose limits?
  2. What is one dream, wish or adventure you want for yourself?
  3. What is one thing you will do today to start to move the edges of your limits to allow yourself a larger view?

 

Consider reading Find Your Voice. Be The Change.

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Creating Goals: Start with “Be Better”

By Jay Forte

Now firmly in 2018, be honest: how did your new year start?  Are you achieving your goals? Do you find yourself presented with the opportunity to create new goals?

Regardless of how the almost two months have been, you still have 10 months to achieve whatever it is you’ve defined for 2018 to be successful. How? As Steven Covey shares in Habit 2 of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, ‘begin with the end in mind.’

Needless to say, the best place to start is to set an achievable goal. This helps you stay focused on where you are headed. Know how to measure your progress so each day is closing the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

And if that seems too much, and it is for a lot of people, then just consider approaching 2018 with the mantra, ‘Be Better.’ Look at the situations, events and circumstances in your work and life and ask, ‘what could I do to make this better?’

Tuning in more intentionally to your world and watching for opportunities to make things better can have a profound effect on you, your work and your surroundings.

Here are a few thoughts to help you focus on being better all year, every year.

  • Be better in your work – think creatively, efficiently and get the details right.
  • Be better in communicating – always add value, not just make noise.
  • Be better in managing your judgments and biases – create less challenge and conflict.
  • Be better with your teammates – how you support them in work and care about them as people.
  • Be better in your communities – how you give your time and effort to make your town, city or neighborhood a great place to live.
  • Be better with our planet – how you recycle, minimize your footprint and how you intentionally appreciate the natural beauty around us.
  • Be better in your relationships out of the office – how you connect, listen, share and support.
  • Be better to yourself – your self-talk, personal expectations and commitment to being your best in all you do.

You have control over how you approach each day. Commit to being better every day, in any way that you notice. Learn more. Be more responsive. Be more connected. Be more aware. Be tougher and more resilient. Be more creative. Be more present. Raise your game. Be better.

Become the person who inspires everyone around you to do the same.

 

Consider reading Create a Personal Report Card

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To Do Something New, Make it Difficult to Do The Old

By Jay Forte

You say you want to change. You want to eat better. You want to be more fit. You want to read more. You want to get more sleep. You want to save more money. All are noble. And if they make life better for you, great. I hope you do them. But even when you say you want to make these changes, how committed to those changes are you really?

The reason so few of us actually stick with making those changes is simple: our habits stop us.

Our brains default to our habits. It takes a lot of energy to run our brains so the brain is always looking for ways to be efficient; doing things out of habit is efficient. However, this locks us into some behaviors that don’t align with what we say we want or need to live wisely, safely or intentionally. Knowing this, a way to interrupt an unproductive default habit is to make it difficult to do.

Take grocery shopping, for example. Each week, you buy a couple of bags of chips, possibly unaware you’re even putting them into the cart. Then, once home, you have a supply of chips easily accessible to you, making it hard to eat better.

Another example: working out. You say you want to work out before you go to work each day, but when the alarm goes off, you hit snooze several times. By the time you get out of bed, there is no time for a workout. And now you’re rushing to get to work on time.

So how can you make these default habits difficult to do?

If there are no chips or junk food in the house, it is more difficult to default to mindless eating. If the DVR no longer has hours of recorded shows for you to watch, you have time to do other activities, such as working out, reading or going to bed at a more reasonable hour. If you have money deposited directly from your check into your retirement or savings account, it is not available to spend.

Look through your life and identify the unproductive habits. As you find behaviors that take you away from where you want to be, assess what changes you need to make. Then, start by making what you currently do so difficult that it naturally forces you toward better and more successful behavior.

Important Questions from a Coach:

  1. What is one unproductive habit that you need or want to change?
  2. What could you do to make doing this behavior more difficult?
  3. What is the first step you will make today to shift to a new and more productive behavior?

 

Consider reading The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 5

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