These are strange times. For the first time in my life, it feels like external events are having an impact on what I do. I’ve lived through multiple government changes, wars (not that I ever took part), 9/11 and the 2008 credit crash. None of these events had a direct impact on my day to day existence. However, the coronavirus pandemic does.
Now, I find myself limited in what I can do. I can’t teach tennis lessons, I can’t play tennis or go to the gym, I can’t treat hypnotherapy clients in person, my monthly Success Club meet ups have to be moved online and I can’t see friends and loved ones. While this isn’t depravation or prison, my life, for the short term, has changed.
Despite this change, though, I refuse to focus on what I can’t do. You shouldn’t either. It’s not good enough to say you’ll shut down and wait for the problem to blow over. Instead, you must look for ways to thrive. You must get as much out of life now, as you did pre lockdown. Here’s how,
It’s undeniable that the lockdown is far from ideal. All being well with the virus, you’d rather it was lifted and life could carry on as before. However, as of this moment, you aren’t permitted this option and, therefore, must adapt to the circumstances as they are presented to you.
To do this, stop thinking about what you’ve lost. Instead, ask yourself, ‘What can I now do? What opportunity has this lockdown presented that I didn’t previously have?’
For me, the change of pace has been a Godsend. No more rushing around. No more feeling like I’m being pulled in three different directions as I have to see tennis and hypnotherapy clients and then promote my new book. Instead, I have a wealth of time.
This means one thing – the perfect opportunity to finish writing my third book. Therefore, limitation actually brings freedom. Not being able to do 10 things, means I can focus on one thing.
What about you? Is there anything you’ve been putting off for months, or maybe years, because you’ve been too busy?
Perhaps, like me, it’s writing a book. Maybe it’s learning a second language. Perhaps, finally, you have the time to research starting a new side-hustle and can get a second income stream going.
Maybe it’s none of these. Instead, it could be something as simple (but important) as going through your entire house, or apartment, ordering it, recycling what you no longer need and making small renovations. There will be some project or job, that you’ve been putting off for months or maybe years, to which you can now give your full attention. Do it, and make the most out of the restrictions on your life.
If you want a suggestion for how much time you should commit to this project, follow the advice in Gary Keller’s, The One Thing. In this excellent business philosophy book, he states that we should set aside 4 hours every day (excluding weekends), to work on our major life project. He calls this the ‘Time Block’ and recommends (although it’s not essential), that it’s completed in the morning.
You are permitted to take breaks during this 4-hour time block, but you can’t get mentally distracted by other activities – no phone, no browsing the internet, no talking to other family members and no responding to emails. This provides enough time to make significant progress with your project while also leaving time free for family and hobbies.
While your major project should consume the largest amount of time while on lockdown, there will be opportunities to do other activities. Exercise should be at the top of this list.
Try to set up a routine. At a minimum, workout (or exercise) 4 times a week for anything between 30 minutes to an hour a day. Select the activities you enjoy. This might mean you cycle twice a week for two hours and, the other two days, you perform calisthenics. Or, if you prefer online fitness classes, tune into these 3 times a week and then do one online yoga session on your spare day.
The combinations are endless. Just remember, what you do isn’t as important as actually doing it. You might not have exercised for a long time, or be recovering from an injury or illness that won’t permit high intensity training. If that’s the case, try to go on four strenuous walks per week, putting in some hill walking to make it harder.
Reading is another activity you should be building into your daily lockdown schedule. Try to do it for 30 to 45 minutes every day. While you might read a novel before going to bed at night, I’m recommending non-fiction during the day as a means to learning and enhancing your knowledge. Here are some recommendations (aside from my new book, Do The Work You Love), covering four important areas of your life.
Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins. Excellent memoir and self-help guide with a powerful message – you can endure, and push yourself, far more than you think (very appropriate for our current predicament).
Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki. A great time to learn the strategies the rich use to ensure they remain on top regardless of markets or world events. There could be some financial opportunities once the lockdown lifts. This book will position you well to take advantage of them.
The Truth, by Neil Strauss. I’m currently reading this book and it’s an excellent exploration into the world of modern-day relationships, addressing the question of whether marriage and monogamy are outdated concepts. Although written from a man’s perspective and, probably, for, a male audience, any woman wanting to learn more about what some men really think and feel would do well to read it.
As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen. A timeless classic that won’t take you more than two 45-minute reading sessions to finish. It’s message, that your thinking determines both your happiness and outcomes, is particularly relevant at a time when it appears that external events are robbing us of both these qualities.
Aim to read all four before the lockdown lifts.
The last thing you should build into your lockdown routine is reflection time.
This can take many forms. You might want to meditate for 10 minutes each day. While, ostensibly, you’re not actually thinking about anything during this time, it’s a great way to clear your mind of worries and stresses about the future or questions about how long the lockdown will last.
If meditation isn’t your bag, then how about priming? Tony Robbins talks about this in a podcast interview with Tim Ferriss. He mentions that he spends 10 minutes, or more, each morning focusing on the things he wants to achieve.
Perhaps the best form of self-reflection is keeping a journal. Every other day, spend 15 minutes writing about how you’re feeling at present and what your plans are for the future. This will give you a sense of clarity that, will put the lockdown into perspective, and leave you prepared for when it finally lifts.
I appreciate that not everyone’s situation is the same as mine. You might still be working a full time job from home and, therefore, the first point on this list won’t apply (or you won’t be able to dedicate the same amount of time). Or, you might have children to look after, and teach, and find that you have even less time than before.
Whatever the case, a step that we can all take is to reduce the amount of media coverage we engage in. It won’t do your state of mind any good to watch the news, or scour the internet, for hours on end, waiting for the latest updates. After all, the mainstream media’s job is not to keep you informed. It’s to keep you addicted. Therefore, the images and stories you’re going to read, and see, will be at the extreme spectrum of what’s actually occurring.
It’s more than likely that you, and your family, are not under any serious threat from coronavirus. A short-term lockdown might well be necessary but this doesn’t mean you have to live in fear. Don’t pay any attention to the stories of healthy 19 year olds dying from the virus. These are incredibly rare occurrences and don’t paint an accurate picture of what’s going on across the entire population. In fact, if the media were to report on what’s happening in most people’s lives, it would be showing images of people sitting in front of a television, looking bored. That’s not going to grab anyone’s attention though.
Please don’t think I say this to downplay what is probably a serious issue (and the last thing I want to do is upset anyone who’s family has been affected). My point is that by detoxing from the mainstream media, you put yourself in the best state of mind to make the most of this change in circumstances.
It could be a few months before we return to the lives we used to know. Make sure you emerge stronger than before.
(image taken from FolsomNatural photostream on flickr.com)