Nobody doubts that the past year has shaken up work, school, families, and every other aspect of our lives. But, as we turn the corner on the pandemic, we’ve been thinking about how the upheaval has created opportunities set new baselines as everyone returns to normal – or the next version of normal.
Start with being together
Many of us, for example, have spent more time with our families than we did before the pandemic, and we have no plans to go back to the old normal. Consider the daily activity of cooking and eating together – and the value of doing them together as a family. According to the Guelph Family Health Study, half of the parents surveyed involve their kids in cooking more than they used to, and more than half now eat with their children regularly during the pandemic. There’s lots of research showing that’s good physically and psychologically for all of us, and especially for kids. Research also indicates sharing such family traditions with children gives them a stronger sense of their identities, making them more resilient and hopeful.
Make conscious decisions
Many of our friends have shared other activities they plan to continue after the pandemic. During the first episode of Breakfast at Wolferman’s Bakery, our friend CeCe Olisa spoke eloquently about an anchor in her life: daily journal writing. For her, it’s a very rigorous process that starts at 5 a.m. She writes three pages a day, every day!
Another friend, Emmet B. Keeffe III, makes it a daily practice to go for a one-hour walk at midday each day, without any distractions such as podcasts or music or phone calls, never deciding in advance what he’ll think about but leaving plenty of room to ponder. Emmet, who is is operating partner at the private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners and founder of Insight IGNITE, says he gets most of his best ideas during that time and writes them down to explore when he’s done.
He blends randomness and intention in other ways. One of Emmet’s life rules is to tell as many people as he can about his greatest ambitions and fondest dreams, with the underlying rule that if people don’t laugh aloud at what he tells them, he’s thinking too small.
Emmet always thinks that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and we agree.
“I know people are uncomfortable asking for help, because my phone doesn’t ring very often with people asking me for help,” he says. “Whenever somebody does call me asking for help, I put everything down and I just pounce on it, because I know how important that is. But I think broadly, people think it’s a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength.”
Emmet loves auto racing and so his dream was to win a Formula 1 title. “I have not yet won the Formula 1 championship. We ended up in a different series, but, you know, close enough,” he says, smiling.
Close enough is right. Emmet is part owner of Campos Racing, a Spanish team that holds a number of championships in Formula 3 and Formula E, the racing circuit for super-advanced electric cars.
Another of his ambitions, which he shared with us and others, is to build a $1 billion company.
“And on the business side, you know, we haven’t yet gotten to $1 billion in revenue, but we built a very substantial business,” Emmet continues. And that’s one of the other, I think, principles of goal setting.
Find ways to enjoy yourself and relax
While Emmet concentrates on the workplace, another friend, Mike Meldman, takes what you might call an equally focused approach to fun. That’s right, fun. Mike, the founder and CEO of Discovery Land Company, a very successful real estate company, has taken up the calling of helping super-achievers relax a little bit and figure out how to enjoy themselves.
As dissimilar as their approaches are in some ways, Mike, Emmet, and CeCe actually have something in common: conscious decision-making about what they want out of life and deliberate thought about how they want to achieve it.
Why people are talking about this now
After a year in which so many people have lost so much, everyone is looking back at their lives before and during the pandemic to decide what the new normal will look like. As we reflect, it’s important to have a plan and make conscious decisions on moving forward. In fact, Harvard’s medical school is promoting the discipline of “mindfulness,” or the practice of intentionally paying attention to the moment without judgment. Also, the National Institutes of Health has published research on the benefits of meditation, and Entrepreneur recently ran an article titled “Finding Joy in the Art of Doing Nothing”.
We hope this has provided some fodder for you as you think about living deliberately and the importance of setting goals. And don’t forget to ask for help along the way.
All the best,
Jim and Chris