Even though lockdown is easing for many countries around the world, the pandemic has forever changed our lives. It’s best not to see this time as waiting for life to resume or even a ‘long vacation’ but instead as a way to discover what core values you have, ways to move past the grief of lives forever transformed.
For many, when the pandemic hit, their lives altered drastically, almost overnight. When such drastic and unexpected change happens, it’s difficult not to feel a sense of loss and sadness, especially if much-anticipated events like big birthdays, weddings, family trips get canceled or, worse, if you have lost employment or a loved one.
But COVID-19 has allowed some people to take restock of their lives and realize that they, perhaps, didn’t need to be so busy in their day to day lives or they have innovated and found new ways to stay busy, learning new skills, reading more books, exercising more, baking more, and so many other tasks, including professional development. Here’s how to keep a positive mindset during the pandemic as we approach the ‘new normal’.
What is a growth mindset?
If you’re the kind of person who feels like ‘wake me up when the pandemic is over’, you may be missing out on opportunities to grow. A person with a growth mindset acknowledges the perfectly normal anxiety they may be facing during the pandemic (read this Harvard Business Review piece on ‘Leading through anxiety: inspiring others when you’re struggling yourself‘ by Morra Aarons-Mele) yet they also believe that their abilities can be improved and developed through hard work and dedication.
What should you work on during this time? Well, you don’t have to commit yourself to huge goals (but you can) like finishing your master’s degree, starting a new course, writing that novel you’ve always wanted to write, or learning a new language. You can start with small goals, which embody what you enjoy and what you’re good at and align with your values.
You might say you’d like to read a book a week, that book could be a novel, something for professional development, or even something self-development. You might decide to exercise, take up yoga, cook healthy foods, write in your journal. But, no matter what you do, you should be growing and not stagnating.
How can you improve your day today? Just one small task at a time. Could you enlighten your mind with a podcast? Could you take a 15-minute walk? Even if you’re working from home, without your commute, you might have extra time to sleep and extra time after work to develop yourself. Get going!
Skills you should hone
Here are some skills you can work on mastering, now and for the future.
Curiosity: Some people are naturally curious. Are you curious and hungry to learn? Develop curiosity (if you aren’t already) by seeking out something new each week, avoiding your usual routines, and learning something new. Don’t always take the safe option and be open to failure. Try something new so you can grow. Failure (if it happens) is an excellent tool for growth.
Holistic thinking: This type of thinking is looking at the complex whole. What is the bigger picture? It’s great to examine your unconscious bias and understand the root causes to make better decisions. We often think of the term ‘holistic’ as it applies to medicine. Doctors who practice holistic medicine think that you have to treat the whole in order to treat a part of someone, which means examining patients not only physically but also understanding them psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Holistic thinking stops ‘tunnel vision’ and allows you to consider thinking outside of your usual paradigm.
Humility: Humility is another word for modesty. No one likes someone who brags and name drops. Learning humility is a vital life skill. That doesn’t mean you cannot be proud of what you have accomplished but it’s best not to boast about what you do. Being humble also means you are open to critique and self-analysis. If you think you’re absolutely awesome at everything, not only is that likely to be an overstatement (even for hyperbole’s sake) but there’s also no room for growth. Leaders who express their humble nature are often more trusted and respected. This quality is a definite strength.
Building community: With the pandemic, so many have realized the importance of community. Some businesses already support their local community (take a look at what Key Medium does here to support its local Philly community) but others need to find ways to connect. Businesses and leaders can be pioneers in changing the world around them. Engaging in the community helps build rapport for your business and helps support those around you to make your community a place you want to be.
Empathy: For customer-facing businesses, empathy is an important skill. People want to know that you understand their problem, are sorry it happened, and you will work on fixing it. But empathy is good for strengthening any business relationship. It’s associated with using language such as, ‘I understand’ or ‘I know how you feel.’ Empathy is so important to us as humans and professionally that it is also is the very first step in our creative approach–as part of the Design Thinking process.
Humor: Everyone loves a bit of humor. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t love to laugh. And, in difficult times, humor can be an important tool. Use humor in conflict resolution (where appropriate), speeches, negotiations, and just everyday communication. It can refocus people’s attention, break any tensions, and add a little dose of perspective. Just maybe avoid toilet humor! Know your audience!
How can I help my community during the pandemic?
You can do something big like donate to those suffering from food insecurity or teach new skills to people or something small like help out your neighbor or even call a friend. You can write to elderly people in your community who are lonely in the nursing home or video call your relatives. There are all kinds of ways to spread kindness during an uncertain time.
Let us know in the comments how you plan to foster your positive growth mindset during this time.
Elaine Frieman holds a Master’s Degree and is a UK-based professional editor, educational writer, and former marketing agency content writer where she wrote articles for disparate clients using SEO best practice. She enjoys reading, writing, walking in the countryside, traveling, spending time with other people’s cats, and going for afternoon tea.