Tips on Navigating Your New Normal

I thought I’d be all in my feelings on my kids’ first day back to school. We have a brand-new high schooler starting 9th grade and a 7th grader returning to middle school. The babies have left the building.


I was surprised by the absence of sadness and anxiety as I drove away, leaving my 9th grader to venture into a sea of 3000 students. Instead, I was excited. My excitement at my kids finally getting to have a “normal” school experience overrode the tinge of nervousness or wave of nostalgia that made me want to yank them back into the car.


Back to normal. That phrase has been floated around a lot in the past year. Some have been forward focused, curious to see what the “new normal” would be like. Others are clinging to the comforting familiarity of pre-pandemic life.


We’ve already had teasers of the future normal as the months have gone by. More people are working remotely. Technology has firmly situated itself into all aspects of our lives, even education. Our bubbles of “personal space” have been fortified by masks and 6-foot perimeters.


All of this is new is starting to feel pretty normal. So how can you stay forward focused and curious about what “new normal” will look like as our lives move on? Maybe it starts with recognizing how we’ve grown and changed in important ways as we’ve all learned to cope with living in a pandemic.


So how can you stay forward focused and curious about what “new normal” will look like as our lives move on?

What's working better?


Let’s be honest. A lot of us have made changes for the better during the pandemic. Realizing that I was spending more time at home. I became more committed to exercising every day. I’ve managed to keep a 5-day a week exercise routine up for the past year. In the past, I was lucky if I kept up a 2-3 day per week streak.


What shifts did you make that you have opted to hold on to? Did you buy a standing desk realizing how much more time you were spending in front of your computer? Have family meals become more routine as you’ve spent more time at home?


Take a moment to reflect on things that you’ve changed that you want to keep as part of your “new normal.”


What needed to go?


I bet that there have been a few behaviors, habits or even ways of thinking, that you’ve shed in the past few months. For years, I’ve proudly displayed the “BUSY” badge on my chest. I felt that having a lot to do meant I was being productive and effective. Once I was forced to slow down, I realized that busy equated tired and overwhelmed.


More recently, I’ve been intentional about prioritizing uncommitted time and quiet in my daily life. There are few things that will implode if I don’t attend to them immediately. I also discovered that there were a few things that needed shedding altogether.


What have you let go of that needs to remain in the “trash” pile? When we were in lockdown, what things, habits, relationships, thoughts or other mind-cluttering things did you let go of? What steps can you take to make sure that you don’t reclaim the unnecessary baggage?


What are you more aware of?


A lot of us have had more time to be introspective. We’ve considered the direction our lives were headed in and realized that some adjustments were necessary.


Until early 2020, I was on autopilot. I knew that I wanted to make some career shifts, but these vague notions hadn’t earned space into the planning centers in my brain. When we went into lockdown, I was forced to make some quick adjustments to how I cared for my patients. Seeing that with creativity and flexibility, many things were possible, I started to put structure around my “vague notions” about my career goals. This pivot is one of the reasons why I opened myself to coaching claiming more of my time and energy.


What notions have started to crystallize for you? Thoughts, feelings, or perspectives that were hovering just below the surface might have started to emerge when you allowed yourself time to reflect.


What has become more clear for you? Is it time to make a change in your career? Relationships? Have you decided that there are certain things that you can no longer tolerate?


Our experiences living in a pandemic have catapulted us into an unexpected and unplanned present. However, if you are reflective and proactive, you can capture the gifts that these changes have presented you and guide your own path forward.