“New normal” is a funny phrase because it makes you think that at some point, change is going to stop and normal is going to be forever and then we can all chill a bit and get a bit of certainty back. Well let’s hope that’s true but for now, one thing we know for sure is that there’s a LOT of change around and more change ahead. We don’t know what it will bring but we know it will mean that things won’t be the same as today.
There’s that alongside all the background questions about how we live our lives that keep rattling around without a definite answer: Will I ever not to have to wear a mask again? Will I have my job in 6 months? Will my job be the same in 6 months? Will I be going back to the office? Will Zoom be a forever way of communicating? Will handshakes ever be OK again? Are shops going to come back or will I shop online forever? And so on and so on.
Today I want to talk to you about how to constantly adjust to new normal, after new normal, after new normal without freaking out and without checking out.
My name’s Dr Paul Brewerton, the strengths guy, founder of Strengthscope and Doctor of Psychology. I podcast every week about life, work and strengths, putting my podcast out first thing on a Monday to set you up for a strong and positive week ahead.
What are my tips for adjusting to the new normal? Well they are these:
- Don’t get stuck in denial
- Sit with the cowpat but do let it go
- Take your strengths with you
- Look for the positives
- Recognise that change won’t change
- Build your resilience
Let’s go through these in a bit more detail.
1. Don’t get stuck in denial
Yes, there are still people out there who think that what we’re in currently will only last a few more weeks, even though it’s been going on for months and months already. In my view, it isn’t realistic, or helpful, to choose not to engage with the changes that are happening all around us.
Better to play what’s in front of you, adapt accordingly, little by little, and that way avoid it all feeling overwhelming and too much. Whether it’s setting up your home office properly (not sitting on the edge of your bed with your laptop on your knees for 8 hours a day), or realising that you can’t just use one disposable mask repeatedly for the next 6 months, but you might need some more masks.
Look around you and try and stay slightly ahead of, or at least in tune with, the changes that you’re seeing around you, to give yourself the best chance of getting used to each new idea as it comes along.
2. Sit with the cowpat but do let it go
This idea of sitting with a cowpat in your lap came from my mentor when he was dealing with the death of a close friend and he said ‘sometimes you just have to sit with the cowpat in your lap’. A cowpat in your lap sounds gross, smelly, sticky and like something you’d want to get off you asap.
But acknowledging that life has served you up something really pretty rubbish, whatever that my be for you, is OK and it’s a good idea to just let yourself sit with that, sit with those emotions, for as long as you need, to let it sink in and come to terms with it.
When the time comes, it’s OK to stand up, flip that cowpat off you, clean yourself down and move on, rather than getting stuck in a negative mindset for too long, which might end up making you feel powerless or helpless. You’re not, you have got this. Have a listen to my podcast at Season 7, episode 5 – Managing your mindset in tough times, the path of possibility – for more on this.
But for now, to help you get from the path of limitation to the path of possibility…
3. Take your strengths with you
Your strengths are those qualities you have that energise you and which you are great at, or have the potential to become great at. They are qualities that are unique to you and where you can probably make your strongest, most positive contribution. So in a situation of constant shift and change, your strengths can be anchors for you, a source of confidence, they can give you a sense of certainty that even if your context is changing, you’re not, not fundamentally anyway, you’re still you and to manage change, you can just choose to use your strengths differently or in different combinations to get you through.
My collaboration, empathy and leading strengths will always be there for me, but in a context where I’m more a virtual than an actual presence, I just need to get better at using them via tech to get the effect that I want. But I know they’re there and that that’s how people experience me – my brand if you like – and that won’t change, even when change is all around me. And that is reassuring when you’re adjusting to new normal after new normal.
4. Look for the positives
In any change, there will be positives and benefits to be had. It just may take a while for them to become apparent. But when you’re ready, looking for the positives can really help you get through any slump when you’re adjusting to a new situation. For example, not being able to get to the office and be with your colleagues in person may feel pretty crushing at first for some people, but enjoying the time you gain without having to commute to work, realising that you can still have a laugh and stay connected with colleagues on Zoom and finding out more about your local area are all great benefits of the current situation, even though it may not have been of your choosing.
If you’re struggling to find any silver linings, try and find someone with an optimistic outlook in your network as they will almost certainly be able to give you a positive boost.
5. Recognise that change won’t change
This one is kind of a build on not getting stuck in denial, but it relates to not falling into the trap of thinking that change is somehow going to stop at some point on the near horizon. It’s safer and more realistic to think that it won’t stop and will continue over the longer term. To stay ahead of change, try and scan the landscape, look and listen between the lines of what people are saying and doing so that you can predict what might be coming over the hill and get ready for it before it surprises you.
6. Build your resilience
Lastly, something that will help with all of the above is to build your resilience. I cover building resilience in detail at Season 8, episode 2 on the 4 things that you and your team need to do to build resilience. But in short, those things are:
- Control your controllables
- Choose your mindset
- Play to your strengths and
- Build a rich support network.
Building resilience can really help your adaptability and capacity to cope with an ever-changing environment, so if nothing more, I would encourage you to listen to the podcast I just mentioned and start to build your resilience, as the uncertain days and weeks and months ahead unfold.
That’s it for this week, my top tips for thriving in the new normal. I hope you’ve found some inspiration there, if you like, give me some love and let your friends and your colleagues know about the podcast. Till next time, stay strong.
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