Here are ways to restart or reboot after any life disruption–because it isn’t just the big life-altering ones that can throw you off.
The pandemic was a major, unexpected life disruption for many of us. But, sometimes even small hiccups can take you off the course you were once on. And, some are planned, or even wanted, like vacations. Yet, even these can leave you feeling disoriented or exhausted. By definition, these will disturb your previous sense of order.
For example, even though I planned a three-week trip to Seoul to check in on my elderly parents, it was disorienting in so many ways. There were unexpected mishaps I had to deal with like needing to replace the refrigerator and two a/c units in the heat of the summer. Even though I had taken several trips check-in trips like this in the past (including a two-month-long trip during the height of the pandemic), there were a lot of new things I had to learn about, like paying taxes in Korea! And, even though I know it takes me 1 hour per difference in time (in my case 13 hours), I find myself frustarted that I’m still trying to recuperate from jet lag.
But, here’s the good news
As always, I’m grateful for what I have learned while coaching my clients. Many of my clients took on the responsibility of being the primary caregiver of elderly adults in their families. Many of my clients had to drop everything they were doing to attend to crises. And of course, nearly all of them had to experience common disordering that vacations or back-to-school season brings.
Here’s the one main positive thing disruptions that I have learned:
While life disruptions will disorient you and produce stress and anxiety, they also bring opportunities to discover what you value and how you can make that more prominent in your life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to add one more thing to your plate or saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” All I’m saying is that if you look at the disruption with a different lens, it can help you get through it a bit easier.
To that end, I provide specific tips I’ve used myself and with my clients. You’ll note that they are all easy but some are a bit unconventional. To help you apply these tips to your situation, I pose some good questions for you to ponder.
Tip #1: Dumb down to learn something about yourself
If you’re smart and talented, you have a strong sense of how things “should” be. You know what it feels like to have things in order. And, if you’re perfectionisitc, you know what the ideal state is.
But, after a disruption, those won’t be your reality. So, you are constantly comparing how things are with how things “should” be. And, this not only adds to the disorientation, but puts you in a mindset that makes you feel more behind than you are and adds to your frustration.
Dumbing down isn’t easy for smart people. So, perhaps another way to put it is to be curious, be like a scientist and experiment what helps.
Given my current state of disorder/confusion/exhaustion, what is something I haven’t noticed before about myself? Or, what really matters to me right now?
Tip #2: You’re not alone but be selective
If you’re highly competent, you’re likely to not seek out help. You’re simply not used to asking for help. And you may have even experienced getting help that doesn’t really help.
You may believe that no one knows your situation like you do. But, there are lots of people who are similar to you, who have gone through similar situations as you. So simply take comfort in that you are not alone. You don’t have to go through this time alone.
The key is to seek out targeted support from the right people.
Among everyone I know, including acquaintances, who has recently gone through something similar? If there are many, who among those do I admire the most?
Then, simply reach out to that person. Even if you don’t discuss what is happening now or ask for help, bring that person a little closer into your orbit. You’re likely to find it will benefit you sooner than you think.
Tip #3: Note what you are getting done
This is one I talk about alot–but it is paricularly helpful when you want to reboot after a life disruption.
You’re likely to have a long to-do list right now. But, more important than that, keep a got-done list. Write down everything big or small that you accomplish. It will help you feel more accomplished and noting “small wins” improves your mood.
So, ask yourself:
What am I getting done?
[Note: you can learn more about the got-done list and other small time management tweaks in the free resource below:]
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Tip #4: Find a keepsake
Even if the experience was absolutely horrid, every disruption has something of value. Figure out what that is, bottle it up, and save it as a reminder or something to use later.
Maybe there was a moment of comic relief where you noticed something funny. Perhaps your loved one shared something with you he/she had not expressed to you before.
Or, perhpas you learned something new that sparked a new interest. Go deeper!
So, ask yourself:
What mattered to me? And, how can I make that more promient in my life?
I’d love to hear how these four tips (or four questions) helped you. What resonated the most to you?