If you’ve been following the social media pressure that suggests now is the time to learn a new language and master an instrument, you might be considering a lot of big decisions right now. French or Japanese? Oboe or flute? Cheese puffs or an apple for breakfast?
[Or be like my daughter, this morning she had both. I looked the other way and pretended I didn’t see the cheese puffs get added to the bowl. I find, as lockdown continues, I’ll look the other way for more and more things…]
But there are some things you shouldn’t be doing during the Covid19 lockdown, or any other crisis.
Here are two to consider:
DON’T MAKE BIG DECISIONS
I attended a Jack Canfield 5-day seminar in 2015, and I loved it for lots of reasons. First of all, it was held in Arizona and I think I left a piece of my heart there. Second, I’d said for years before that Jack’s book The Success Principles was my all time favourite book ever. And third, because I realised that Jack Canfield is a stand-up guy.
At that point in my life, I’d already attended several business events and I was used to the dreaded upsell. Do you know it? You attend a £500 course and prepare yourself for the part where the speaker suggests you buy his £10,000 mastermind programme. Then he begins to shame you by saying if you were serious about changing your life, growing your business, or raising albino guinea pigs, you’d have already handed over your dollar. Who cares if you don’t have ten grand to your name? Don’t you have a credit card, a mother with a house to remortgage, etc? You gotta get creative if you want to win big!
So, yeah, that was the space I was coming from.
Imagine my surprise when, at the start of Jack’s Breakthrough to Success seminar, he brings out a full page of commitments that he asks each person to sign. And one of those commitments is basically:” no big decisions.
He was advising against big decisions for a different reason – conference euphoria – but the point is the same here as we endure a crisis.
He saw the risk that, in such a happy-clappy environment, people might be tempted to make all kinds of big decisions. Resign from their job! Leave their spouse! Hook up with the cute guy they got partnered with for that really intense exercise [in fact, another of the commitments on the sheet was, specifically, ‘no new sex’ – meaning no sex with a new partner during the seminar]!
Now, any of those decisions may be valid, but Jack’s point was that none of them should be made in such an artificial setting.
And it’s the same now.
This whole Covid19 lockdown pandemic situation is the most artificial setting most of us have ever seen. It’s real, but it’s not our real life. I left that Jack Canfield seminar and went home to my normal life, and one day we’ll end this lockdown and return to our normal lives.
And when that happens, we can consider the big decisions.
But right now, when you need to survive and pay your bills and home your job or your business rides this period out? Now isn’t the time for big decisions.
Don’t get confused here.
If you’re in danger, you get the heck away from that abusive spouse. And don’t let any lockdown restrictions in the world stop you – you get to safety.
But if you’re looking at your spouse with a general feeling of maybe they’re not The One after all, consider that you may not be in the best place to make that decision right now. You might actually be feeling anxious about the whole world, and since that’s too big a burden for your shoulders, you’re instead focusing on the state of your marriage. Maybe it needs work. Maybe it needs to end. But is that a decision you’re really in the best space to make right now?
Similarly, in financial terms, this is a great reminder that having eggs in more than one basket sure helps you sleep a little easier when the hard times come. I’ve been obsessed with the idea of multiple streams of income throughout my working life. I’ve always had two jobs or two businesses, often more. I’ve never really understood where that came from, but it’s always been in me.
Maybe you’ve lost your job or your business because of this pandemic, or maybe you haven’t but you’ve realised it was possible. A near escape, perhaps, and we’re not out of the woods yet.
So, sure, this could be a great time to think about a side hustle, or levelling up your skills, or retraining. It might be a time to look through your extra things at home and start listing things for sale to generate some extra income. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure here, but maybe start a journal, have a brainstorm, ask your closest friends what they think you could do to earn a side income.
But is now the time to quit your job? I’m going to say probably not, no matter how fired up you are to get started with a whole new idea. Leaving one uncertain source of income to begin a different uncertain source of income won’t help you out. Unless you have savings to comfortably get by for an extended period of time, now isn’t the time for this kind of big decision.
DON’T START A NEW BAD HABIT
It’s easy, when every day feels like Groundhog Day, to reward yourself.
Maybe that glass of wine that used to be after dinner is getting closer and closer to lunch time each day. Maybe your phone use has gone through the roof because you’re checking the news constantly. Maybe you always liked chocolate croissants for breakfast on a Sunday, and now you’re having one every day.
These things can feel harmless enough, but there’s a danger in these shifts. The danger is that each one could become your new normal.
As I revealed in a post recently, I’m bringing a 6 month mindset to this lockdown. Based on nothing more than my own need for the situation to have an end date, I’m planning that this will be reality for the next 6 months.
And 6 months is a long time for a new treat to become your new bad habit.
I’m not a drinker. I rarely drink alcohol, the last time I did was almost a year ago and the time before that might have been two or more years earlier.
When I drink, it’s out of the house on a drunken night out. I drink to get drunk, because I don’t like the taste. So if I’m having a low-key get together, a meal out, or even at most parties, I’ll stick to soft drinks and be the designated driver.
And yet, I’m under stress right now. I’m not asking for an award here, I know you are too. And I know that my alcohol tolerance is so low, I could have a glass of wine and lemonade and suddenly feel a lot more chill. The idea has occurred to me.
But I’m not going to do it, because I already have plenty of bad habits and I don’t need to develop another. I’m not scared that I’d become an alcoholic, but I do think there’s every chance I could leave lockdown with a new habit of having a glass or two of wine each night, and I don’t want to do that.
And, please, this isn’t the same as seeing lockdown as the time to improve yourself and rid yourself of existing bad habits. I’m not trying to do that. I’m not putting myself under that pressure. I’m just trying to come out of it without having developed any extra bad habits.
Of course, you give meaning to the words good and bad and decide what, for you, is a bad habit.