by Kathy Zering
Here’s the greatest advice ever – do what’s best for you.
Especially now as many parts of the world are slowly opening back up following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here in the U.S. we’re at the beginning stages and it’s bringing on another set of decision making and coping skills.
Some people are acting like nothing’s changed and have jumped right into the deep end of the pool. They are going to restaurants (if open and permissible), to the beach or to other crowded places, like bars. They wear no masks and aren’t concerned with staying 6 feet apart or washing their hands frequently.
Others are optimistically cautious and dipping their toe in, venturing out to a store for the first time in weeks, sometimes months. Proud of themselves that they are taking this big step.
They wear masks and gloves and do all the right things – staying 6 feet apart, minimizing exposure by shopping alone, going through the self-checkout and getting what they need and leaving as quickly as possible.
It feels best for them.
We’ve got more decisions to make now. There’s a constant push and pull of going too fast and not going fast enough.
Occasionally there’s pressure to socialize before you’re ready. Here’s an example: an acquaintance invited you to a 50th birthday party, where you can drive by in your car or venture into the driveway to celebrate (there are lots of creative social distancing party ideas here). Do you go? What will she think if you don’t participate? You may think, I barely know her, why is she inviting all these Facebook friends like me to do this at a time like this?
You may be conflicted when your neighbors ask you over for wine or dinner, yet you know they’ve been shopping every day for weeks just to get out of the house, ignoring the stay at home order. Are they carrying the virus? Will it be safe to be so close even for an hour or two? Even if you stay outside and 6 feet apart?
Or maybe you have a friend who wants to visit you after visiting her son who works in a healthcare facility where they’ve had cases of COVID-19. Do you visit with her outside only? What if she needs to use the bathroom during the visit – is that safe? How will that work?
Sometimes it’s a fine balance between wanting to please others, wanting to enjoy yourself (you miss socializing), and doing what you know is best for you.
Do What’s Best for You
The greatest advice during these times is to do what’s best for you.
Whether or not you’re in a high risk group for getting sick (or living with someone that is), you must do what makes you comfortable and don’t let pressure from others, self-doubt or feeling bad for saying no prevent you from taking care of yourself first.
No one is going to watch out for you so you must do what’s right for you – no matter what. It is that important.
Even if it’s hard to say no. Even if the whole neighborhood is gathering in street for a social distancing party and you don’t feel comfortable being around neighbors who you know have had visitors and service people in and out of their homes recently.
Learning to trust yourself and your decisions is a skillset worth cultivating. It gets easier with time and practice.
Paying attention to your body’s signals is one way to build your intuition. Some people call it a gut feeling; they may feel a tightness or knot in their gut when something doesn’t feel right for them. It’s their signal to say no.
Others really pay attention to their emotions and get curious. For example, maybe you’re feeling excited but also scared when your hair stylist calls now that she’s reopened and has an open spot for you.
You’re conflicted about going to get your haircut and colored – you know you’ll look and feel better, but how safe will you be?
You want to support your stylist who hasn’t been working in almost 2 months which makes you feel connected and supportive, yet you’re not willing to being in a confined space with her for 2 hours. The fear enters again.
Realize it’s perfectly normal to feel conflicted, and trust that you’ll make the best decision for yourself. Perhaps you followed the advice here about trusting your body’s signals (feelings and emotions), and decide to get your haircut but schedule it for 3 weeks from now.
That way, you figure your stylist has some time to work the kinks out and adjust to how she can best keep her customers safe. That helps reduce the fear you were feeling.
At the same time, you’ll be supporting her business and feeling excited about finally getting your hair done. The choice is still yours but you’re doing it on your terms, aligned to making you feel safe, connected and supportive.
Take Intentional Action
The next time you feel conflicted about how to proceed, follow the two steps here to get back to a centered place and do what’s best for you.
1. Slow down and notice that this decision is causing conflict in you; becoming aware is key.
As humans, many times we’re in automatic mode and don’t take the time to slow down. We react quickly without much thought.
This fast-paced world we live in doesn’t help. Taking a few deep breaths and intentionally slowing down does help.
And don’t be afraid to delay your decision – letting someone know you’ll get back to them tomorrow, and then sticking to that agreement, is very empowering. Saying “Let me sleep on it and get back to you tomorrow” works well.
2. Take responsibility and act in a way that’s aligned to what is best for you. Realizing that you are the creator, not the victim, of your life is a great core belief to have. In other words, you GET to decide, what a privilege.
And being clear about what’s best for you before you act is important. Build your instinctual power by practicing it on a regular basis.
A great time to get clarity for me is during or right after meditating. For most decisions, I spend a few minutes slowing down, getting centered and then trusting my instinct and decision. But for bigger choices or ones that I still feel confused about, during or after meditation the following morning is the solution.
So remember, always do what’s best for you. You’ll feel better, make better decisions and have more control as you continue to navigate the uncertainty in this journey ahead.
Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash
by Kathy Zering
How do you feel hopeful when so much in the world is uncertain? At times, it can seem like there’s no hope.
Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.
How can you expect a positive outcome or make plans when things are beyond your control? I’m sure you’ve heard about people who had to change their plans due to COVID-19. Big plans. Big events. Things like weddings, vacations, graduations, anniversary parties, and other celebrations. All delayed, or even cancelled entirely.
There are many ways to find your way back to hope, below are just a few with specific action steps at the end.
Realize you get to choose
When events seem out of your control, do you choose to be hopeful? You can choose:
- to be hopeful that our leaders will guide us properly during the upcoming weeks and months of opening our environments up again.
- to be hopeful that the economy and your 401K balance will come back as it typically does during these cyclical times.
- to be hopeful that you and your loved ones will continue to stay healthy and safe by taking the right precautions and following good advice and practices to stay safe.
When you take responsibility for your feelings and choose how you want to feel about a circumstance, you become empowered.
It doesn’t matter if that circumstance is within your control or not. You may not be able to affect the outcome, but you can affect the way you think and feel about it.
Modify your expectations
We set ourselves up for frustration and disappointment when our expectations are unrealistic and set too high. Or if we cling to the same expectations when current circumstances are calling for them to be changed.
What are your expectations for your 2020 goals? Now might be a good time to reevaluate where they are in light of the pandemic and modify your expectations for achieving them.
A business owner friend expected to double her sales this year and was on target in January and February, and then her business was forced to shutdown. She’s turned to plan B and plan C to bring income in, and has modified her expectations for the remainder of this year to minimize further disappointment.
Find the silver lining
Look for meaning in the most challenging of situations. It brings a sense of peace and satisfaction, even if the meaning is simply learning something new.
For example, if working from home is new and challenging for you, the deeper meaning could be viewed as an opportunity to work on a skillset you’re developing, like patience, perseverance or how to handle change.
There are so many silver linings with the global pandemic. You can look for examples and find them every day.
I see neighbors being more neighborly and taking the time to get to know each other better, and support each other when in need. Even though we’re social distancing, I see more connection – and deeper connections – via phone calls and webmeetings. Friends and relatives are checking in on each other, even ones who haven’t spoken in years.
There’s less traffic, less air pollution, more empathy and more willingness to help others – so much good from this “slow down” that’s been forced upon us.
Take Purposeful Action
Hope is something you can create. I encourage you to take what you’ve learned above and act. Here are 5 steps to follow to be hopeful when there’s not much hope:
1. Notice the feeling of hopelessness; become aware of it. Awareness is powerful in itself. Pay attention to your feelings or thoughts that may be causing hopelessness.
2. Pause & breathe. It may help to think or say aloud “I’m going to pause right now and take a few deep breaths”, then take 3 or 4 deep diaphragmatic breaths to calm your nervous system.
3. Get curious. Don’t try to stop or shut down the feeling. Sit with it and get curious about it. Ask yourself questions like, what’s causing me to feel this way? Could this be some other feeling instead? Am I physically run down and that’s impacting my mood and feelings?
4. Decide to take responsibility. Accept and trust that your life is exactly that, YOUR life. You create your experiences and can choose what kind of experiences they are. And if you desire, you can change what you’re experiencing at any point.
5. Act: choose a better feeling thought and then take a small action in that same direction. For example, choose to appreciate the positive in your life: like being grateful that you’re still healthy, and then go take a quick walk around your neighborhood, enjoying the weather and fresh air.
You may not be able to control a lot these days. Uncertainty is at unprecedented levels. But you can dismiss the victim mindset, and instead control how you think and feel about certain things.
Hopelessness, and the inevitable suffering from it, is optional. Remember, you have a choice to be hopeful when there’s not much hope.
Photo by Rose Erkul on Unsplash
by Kathy Zering
Groups are beneficial in many ways. There’s nothing like physical and social distancing to make you realize how important connection is for us humans.
It’s become clear to me recently how much of a positive impact groups can have. I’ve experienced it recently and have seen numerous examples of the strength and potential power that being part of a group provides.
Here are a few reasons why you need to make groups a priority for attracting more success in your life. If you’re interested in fast-tracking results and benefiting from groups, I’ve also included strategic action steps at the end to help you.
Synergy in Groups
Groups create synergy. It’s not just about strength in numbers, it’s about the interaction of 2 or more people who come together with a shared purpose, goal, or interest. This combined effect is greater than the sum of any separate effects.
You can expect to see enhanced results and quantum leaps in outcomes – they’re bigger and better in groups than if you’re attempting it alone.
I belong to a group for women business owners. We have a weekly practice we do individually on Sundays where you take time to celebrate your past week’s efforts, note any challenges, and put focus on your top 3 priorities for the upcoming week. These items and a few other things are all written down onto a sheet.
Recently we’ve been meeting online as a group, and completing our individual sheets together, and then breaking out into groups of 3 to share what we’ve written.
The synergy from this group practice is noticed by all. People have been doing the same exercise on their own for months, even years, and now comment about how the group practice adds depth, provides more clarity and the sharing allows other ideas and advice to be added for greater results.
Sense of Community
Groups provide a deep sense of community. They help people feel connected and aligned to a common interest or goal.
When you’re feeling connected you feel warm, happy and positive, and realize that you are part of something bigger than yourself.
And when you are aligned to a common interest or goal, your individual effort and contribution adds to the overall effort and output of the group. You feel accepted and validated, and are capable of so much more than if you were struggling on your own.
Groups that volunteer for a specific cause, like building a community park, and spiritual / religious groups are great examples of how groups provide that sense of community.
Personal Growth and Development
Groups help you grow and develop. Not only can you learn more about specific subjects, you learn about different viewpoints, how to interact with others, and more about yourself, like what motivates you or what bores you.
These soft skills help you in your professional development too, as they easily translate to your relationship and team building skills in the workplace.
I learned a tremendous amount about gardening after creating, from scratch, a beautifully landscaped backyard garden full of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. Last year I joined a local gardening group where I can share what I’ve learned over the past 12 years.
I’m also learning new things about vegetable gardening, native plants and even hydroponics. The group members share a common interest, and help each other grow and develop into even better gardeners by sharing seeds and plants, offering advice on getting rid of pests, and connecting for group field trips to local gardens.
We’ve recently met online which was great because members were able to walk around their homes and gardens and show off all their hard work. It was entertaining and helpful, and we may even continue online meetings on a regular basis, even after we go back to meeting in person (#thanksCOVID).
Take Purposeful Action: Make Groups a Priority
Let’s get strategic and purposeful now.
Evaluate any groups of which you’re currently a member. When is the last time you participated in a meeting or event? If you’ve been missing meetings re-evaluate whether it’s really the right group for you. Has it changed since you first joined it? Is it aligned with your goals or interests? Give it another chance and see if it’s still a good fit. If not, leave the group to make room for a new group that is.
Find new groups to join, and make sure they’re ones that are aligned with your values, interests and goals. Meetup.com is a good place to find others with similar interests. There are groups related to hobbies (reading, hiking, photography), social groups (dog walking, day trips, travel), business-related professional groups (networking, business learning, industry groups like HR professionals) and other interests.
You can also do a LinkedIn or Google search to find any industry groups or online meetings that match your interests.
I run a local networking group for professional women. It meets online now, but typically meets in person at a coffee shop to network, learn, and support each other.
I encourage you to find the best groups for you (or start your own group), make participating in them a priority, and pay attention to the benefits and results you’re receiving as a benefit.
Is there 1 group you are part of that you can’t live without? What is it and how has it helped you have more success in your life? Please let us know in the comments below.
Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash