Planning Your Fresh Start: Step 3


Back in April, an episode of the NPR podcast Life Kit focused on how everyone might be a bit rusty in their interpersonal skills as things start to open back up and people begin socializing again.

At one point, they discussed how the pandemic might have revealed the real limits of our social capacity.  

As the main guest — Celeste Headlee, author of the book We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter — put it:

“Two years ago, you may have just not been aware of how exhausted you were.”

Oh, bingo.

Or as Christine Koh wrote in The Washington Post:

“We’ve survived the pandemic of COVID-19, but we have yet to conquer the pandemic of hurriedness. Now’s our chance to be deliberate in carving out a new, sustainable rhythm for ourselves and each other.”

Steps 1 and 2 were about collecting data:  forming a picture of the life you might want to transition to.

In Step 3, you’ll start homing in on what that “next normal” might actually look like.

This is an adaptation of a classic coaching exercise I call “Start Doing/Stop Doing.”  Look over your responses to the questions and prompts in Steps 1 and 2 and consider how they might divide into two columns:

  • Stop doing/do less of
  • Start doing/keep doing/do more of

Take the broad ideas from Steps 1 and 2 and try to translate them into specific actions that make the ideas possible.  For example, if one of the themes that emerged for you was “more time with family,” try to get really clear about how that might happen.  Does that mean carving out one evening each week for a dinner-and-movie night?  Does it mean planning some kind of regular weekend outings?  Or, on the “stop doing/do less of” side, does it mean disengaging from some pre-pandemic obligations to ensure that family time can happen?

As with the previous steps, try not to censor yourself.  Imagine all of the many different possible ways you might engineer a calmer, more centered existence with less “should” and “have to.”


By Cynthia Knapp Dlugosz

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