Fresh Start

As we are easing our way back into some post quarantine normalcy, take some time to reflect on any changes to your former routine and lifestyle that you might like to make. What have you learned from the last 15 months that will inform your choices going forward?

Unlike any other time in recent history, we have all had chance to view our lives through a much different lens. Working from home gave many families a rare opportunity to see the entire landscape of their busy lives all converging at once –from their living room. When we blindly run on auto-pilot, we are often unaware of the needs and nuances of our other family members. It is only when something goes wrong with the well-oiled machinery of our daily lives, that we pay closer attention. The pandemic and quarantine brought us to a screeching halt and kept us there for over a year. If we haven’t determined something that could use a change as we return, we may be missing a golden opportunity.

Pivotal moments like this can be a dynamic catalyst for making meaningful changes. Katy Milkman, a behavioral scientist and Wharton professor, calls it “the fresh start effect.”

“There are moments throughout our lives when we feel like we are facing a chapter break or a new beginning. It could come from a major life event like a new job or moving to a new home. Or something as small as the start of a new week. These fresh starts provide a break from the “old” you”

Fresh starts are a really potent motivator, and really effective if we can use them as a springboard towards change. Right now, as the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, there’s an opportunity for a collective fresh start. I hope we won’t let the moment pass, that people will be deliberate.” — Katy Milkman, Wharton professor and author of How to Change.

“What will you do differently?” has become the hot topic of conversation lately. Ideas run the gamut from better work/life balance, to saying no more often to things we really don’t want to do, cultivating high quality friendships, less time on social media, reviving family game or movie night, and more home cooking than take out.

Some are re-assessing how their children are educated, childcare options, working from home permanently, relocating to be closer to family, re-allocation of personal financial budgets or changing careers. Many of these decisions are based in a renewed desire to pursue a more enriching quality of life.

Today I listened to a Dare to Lead podcast with Priya Parker who deftly articulated the complexity of changes that businesses are facing during this re-entry. Businesses made adaptations throughout the pandemic to meet the needs of employees and customers under unusual circumstances. Now they are taking what they have learned and restructuring business processes and reallocating budgets. There is no master blueprint for pulling all of this off seamlessly. This is truly a collective “fresh start” for businesses and organizations all across the globe.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how we can all choose to “show up” in this moment of seismic change. We will be called upon to “show up” in a variety of ways — for ourselves and families, for friends and communities, at home, at work and out in the big wide world. Drawing on what I have learned through mindfulness, here is some food for thought:

There are bound to be some new ideas that have flaws or are not executed well. Be open-minded rather than critical. Look for what is working and build on that. Ask thought-provoking questions about the barriers to successful implementation. Reframe a situation. Curiosity opens the pathway for creative solutions. Remember the old adage – don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Letting go and not being attached to the outcome are powerful launching tools for innovation. When we cling too tightly to just one vision of what a good outcome would be, we create blind spots, often missing something unfolding that is even better than our original plan. Embrace a new idea with positivity and supportive efforts to help it gain traction. Be receptive to making changes. We most definitely will be learning as we go.

Keep a broader perspective in mind before reacting. Putting ourselves in another’s situation helps us to gain greater insights about the big picture. Ask more questions to gain clarity and understanding — and “hold space” for someone to really think before they answer. This is how we foster empowerment in others to make good decisions for themselves. Asking meaningful questions helps them identify their own barriers and come up with solutions they’ll invest in. Avoid giving unwanted advice and helping too much. Holding space when mistakes are made is also going to be invaluable. Mistakes are part of the process of change.

Learn from the past but don’t let it tether you to outdated ideas. We are evolving every day. Stay open to trying new things that better suit the present moment.

I’ve had a few of these fresh start moments in my personal life, and I have been the benefactor of some of the greatest relationships in my life after I committed to meaningful change.

Collectively, we have the most incredible “fresh start” possibilities awaiting us in this present moment. Let’s make it count.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

CNBC Article – 3 Science Backed Tips for Creating Change

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2021/05/14/science-backed-tips-for-creating-change-in-your-life-according-to-a-behavioral-scientist.html

https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-with-priya-parker-on-how-we-return-and-why-it-matters-part-1-of-2/

NPR Life Kit Segment: How to Achieve a Goal (with Katy Milkman, Author of How to Change

https://www.npr.org/2021/05/14/996939779/a-behavioral-scientists-advice-for-changing-your-life

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