My Lockdown Lessons
I have become more resilient, resourceful and adaptable
Appreciation of my own company
Importance of regularly tuning into my self-talk
Identify and focus on my strategy for achieving my goals
Life is unpredictable and that change is part of life
Feeling gratitude and hope
I don’t know about you but I have found that this year of lockdowns has given me many ‘pause for thought’ moments. It’s been a year of not being able to do very much yet in my own little world and globally I have been part of a variety of different experiences; proving that life doesn’t remain static in any circumstance. We experience so much on a daily basis yet it is only through reflection that we start to develop awareness and begin to decipher our learning so that we can use it to make informed decisions and grow.
For my part, I have decided to look at this year as a unique period of learning with some fantastic insights to be had and to be built upon. Our ability to be able to look at situations and decide upon our responses is one of our greatest assets. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the positives but let’s start with finding one; what one positive have you found from this past year in the pandemic? Now, I’m not someone who says that you should deny the negative things that you experience and pretend that they don’t exist at all. I say acknowledge them, own them and take a positive to enable you to decide how you are going to move on from them so that the negatives don’t own you. Conditioning your mind to find the positive in a situation that at first glance seems to have none does take practice and repetition. Yet, think upon this question: how will it alter your mind-set the next time you encounter a difficult situation if you always look for a positive?
This year more than ever I think we have all had to hold onto a future vision of freedom; awaiting some return to what we consider normality. We have held on with courage to keep working tirelessly in the present and with hope that in contributing to the now, we will bring about the future we desire to be part of.
So I have decided to do what I talk about, which is to reflect and share some of the main positives that I have learnt about myself from my pandemic year in the hope that it might inspire you to explore some of your own.
For myself, the pandemic has presented me with some tough times and in order to be able to manage them, I have become more resilient, resourceful and adaptable in order to find solutions to the presenting challenges. It might not have seemed like a choice in the moment, but over time I realised that I was making a conscious choice to call upon those skills rather than pick other options. By consciously deciding how to respond and act, you move from powerless to being empowered and your perception of situations and how you contribute to them alters dramatically. Don’t get me wrong, I did have those wobble moments and I had to delve into my positive mind-set tool kit and find a technique that would get me back on track. So I reflected on my past and found the experiences that reminded me of how I had been resilient, resourceful and adaptable in other challenging situations. Life is full of ‘first time’ moments and I remembered that I had survived many of those situations which at first were unfamiliar but with time and persistence I had been able to successfully navigate my way through to the other side. This strengthened my self-belief and confidence that I had the resilience and resourcefulness required and that I could develop new strengths to help me through the pandemic.
I have learnt that I can adapt to change and that I can be the instigator of change at any given time if I so choose. The power to change our mind-sets and our reactions is within all of us and we have the power to direct our thoughts. Over the years I have dispelled many limiting beliefs about myself and to do so I use mantras and questions to remove blocks in my thinking and so see potential and possibility. What’s one of your mantras? What belief is blocking you from embracing change? What are you telling yourself that you cannot do and so denying yourself what you truly value? Your beliefs can be supportive or destructive so think about how you can cultivate a mind-set that empowers you to see possibilities and take actions. What belief will empower you the most?
The pandemic and especially the lockdowns meant that I (and everyone else) stepped off the social and travel wheels and I found that I was spending more time by myself, which enabled me to develop a greater appreciation of my own company. The lockdowns became an opportunity to slow down my pace of life, come off autopilot and reconnect with who I was and who I wanted to become. I have been able to reflect and specifically identify what is important so that I keep working and taking action to shape a future that has the greatest meaning and value to me. On a lighter note, I have appreciated my capacity to laugh at myself, to find my positives among a higher number of negatives and to find a sense of peace in my more solitary hobbies. In my own company I still have times when I question myself about who I am, what I am doing and why I am doing it. I still have moments of self-doubt about whether I have enough belief to achieve the vision in my mind and I second guess myself. However, that doubt is only temporary and I remind myself of my reasons for my goals and my capability to achieve them; conditioning my mind to attach the motivation to the joy of the end result.
Coupled with learning to appreciate my own company is the importance of regularly tuning into my self-talk, which I hear quite regularly in my own company. I have been listening to my self-talk more closely and noticing on a frequent basis what it is that I am telling myself and therefore what I am hearing from myself. In one of his speeches the great motivational speaker Les Brown comments on how sometimes the only good things you will hear about you will be from you. How true is that?! So you have to be your biggest fan at times and provide yourself with the positive talk you require to keep moving forward and appreciate yourself. One of my aims is to keep improving my self-talk; working on replacing my negative thoughts regarding my potential and capability with positive ones and reinforcing the positive ones that currently exist so that they are stronger and louder. What I tell myself, what I believe and what I envisage I can do dictate how I shape my life; acknowledging that my life is my responsibility and that I own all parts of it. If you are struggling to drown out your negative talk that is perhaps disempowering you, I suggest finding evidence from your past experiences and achievements which show you how you have come through adversity, challenge and uncertainty in order to achieve what at first you thought not possible. I had some tough times through the pandemic but I empowered myself by directing my mind’s chatter to refocus on my strengths and my previous personal successes, which helped me to build upon my self-belief and reignite my motivation levels.
The time at my disposal has allowed me to be able to identify and focus on my strategy for achieving my goals. I have continued to work on my health, career and financial objectives and some of those targets I have hit and with others I have had to learn to adjust my plan and my timelines due to changing circumstances. I still have a long way to go and that’s OK because my life and the goals that it is comprised of are worth the time and the work. When it comes to my goals I can honestly say that the greatest attributes I have learnt through this last year are patience and persistence. External factorshave an unforeseen impact, who I am changes and with that parts of my vision and so patience supports me to incrementally work my way up the mountain that I call success; persistently searching for ways to make my vision a reality. It can be a struggle but when I structure my time and work with focus and dedication on specific tasks then I have learnt that the feeling of overwhelm (so often leading to procrastination) dwindles dramatically. So, what’s the goal, what’s the first milestone and what’s the most important task to get you started?
We are all keenly aware after this year that life is unpredictable and that change is part of life. For myself, I no longer fear change and instead I made a decision to accept it as an integral part of development and growth. I see change as an opportunity to find out different aspects of myself and others, to test the depths of my character and it also provides me with the opportunity to welcome a new perspective. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable but in order to be able to strive forward in life and take different paths to different destinations, change is an absolute necessity and therefore is a state to be embraced. We can all think and talk about change but when instigating it in our own lives it takes effort, commitment and a series of actions to bring that vision into reality. So because of your experiences during the pandemic and the lessons that you have learnt, what are you now going to do differently in your life? COVID-19 has heightened my sense of urgency to work on my goals in the here and now; enjoying life and constantly preparing the way for the future I desire. Ask yourself this, if not now, then when is a good time to start or restart working on that important goal?
I finish this narrative with two further important lessons; feeling gratitude and hope. I have so much to be grateful for in my life, which includes the awesome, great, good and not so good times. By owning my experiences, I decide how they influence and shape who I am and the paths on which I wish to travel. I still have hope for the future and that hope motivates me to keep putting in the necessary work to achieve my goals and fully enjoy my life. With hope there is possibility and possibility finds opportunities – keep going so that you live what matters most to you.
(c) Katrina Ramsden