MY UN-RADICAL RESOLUTIONS FOR THE RADICAL CHANGE AHEAD
When uncertainty strikes, it's part of human nature to try to get a grip on the situation as soon as possible. We hate the feeling of not knowing what’s next on our journey. But instead of dwelling on all the things we can’t control, we can also choose to turn our attention to what is within our zone of control. This is my personal pledge of kindness, gratitude, and authenticity in the embrace of uncertainty.
Barely two months ago (give or take a couple of weeks depending on where you live), we were told to stay home, all of us, and to stay there until further notice. Seemingly overnight, the unthinkable happened: the world temporarily stopped!
Or so we thought. In reality, the world never stopped, we did. While we have put ourselves on pause inside our homes, the world has continued to rage on outside, right in front of our incredulous eyes and painfully beyond our control.
All the while, our brains have been trying to catch up feverishly with our daily changing reality and rapidly unravelling future prospects. Never before in our lifetime, have so many people from all corners of the world developed so many theories and opinions on a single topic at the same time. There have been more articles than people to read them. About how this could have happened to us, who’s to blame, what we should have done differently, how to cope, how to protect ourselves, and how to keep our loved ones safe. Suddenly, everyone felt a pressing need to share suggestions on how to work from home, how to home-school our kids, how to keep ourselves busy, how to stay fit, how to keep a sound mind, how to deal with the loneliness, and how to make sure we could go back to normal as soon as possible.
And that was just the beginning. We were just warming up there. Gradually, we have come to realise that going back to normal, is not an option. The world as we know it, does not exist anymore, and may never be the same again. So, we have been running our brains into overdrive, trying to imagine what is next for us, how to move on from here, and how to create a new way of life. Or as Macron said in the FT (truly inspiring interview by the way): “We all face the profound need to invent something new, because that is all we can do.”
It’s a perfectly understandable coping mechanism, a fair attempt to get a grip on the situation. We want to control how things will play out, because we have businesses to save, jobs to go back to, families to protect, mortgages to pay, exams to pass, and lives to live.
And yet, the truth is, your guess is as good as mine. Or rather, your guess is as bad as mine. The events of the last weeks are a truly humbling experience for humanity. Despite the unquestionable and much-needed expertise of thousands of top-notch experts across the academic and scientific spectrum, we have shown to be largely clueless in predicting our current situation. I think we can reasonably and humbly assume that we are equally clueless in predicting what the world will look like tomorrow, next month, and any period of time after that.
So, I am going to refrain from adding another more-or-less-plausible prediction about possible post-Covid scenarios. The experts seem to have a hard-enough time with that already. I’m also not going to add any further suggestions on how to change the nature of globalisation, humanise capitalism, or rethink the entire political, economic, and financial system. Plenty of people are better placed to do that than me.
Instead, I choose to focus my mind on the things that are actually within my zone of control. We do not control individually how events will further unfold, but we do, each one of us, control how to stand in this. We control our thoughts, our mindset, our behaviour, and our actions. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Sounds unimpressive? Not ambitious enough? You wanted something more powerful?
I know. But change doesn’t happen because millions of us write about what the others should be doing differently. Who are “the others” anyway? The politicians, the banks, the multinationals, the scientists, the citizens, the farmers, the elder, the self-employed, the youth, the small businesses, the workers, the customers, the unemployed, the immigrants, the rich? Everyone is someone else’s “other”. We are running around in circles.
Change is simply the collective result of each of our individual actions.
And by the way, it doesn’t have to be all that impressive. The impact of all of us changing our ways a bit, is much more radical than the impact of some of us changing our ways entirely. Radical change doesn’t require all of us to radically alter the way we live. We do not all have to eat less meat, stop taking planes, slow down, support the local shops, start meditating, plant a tree, wear bio cotton, care more, reduce waste, go to work by bike, wear a mask, use paper-based cotton buds, donate money, stay fit, use less energy, take shorter showers, volunteer for a good cause, buy less clothes, and get politically involved (just to name a few). But if we all change our ways a bit, and we keep it up for more than a couple of months, the collective impact of that is radical.
In normal times, this is unlikely. Without any immediate and pressing urgency, we all have a different timing for changing our outlook on things, for introducing new habits, or for stepping up our game. And we tend to go back to our old ways quickly when people around us don’t join in on the effort.
But today it’s different. The urgency could not be more ‘in our face’. It is one of those exceptional moments in which all of us will inevitably change our ways.
So here is what I’ve decided to focus on in my zone of control, in the small world I call my own. This is how I choose to stand in life, in this crisis, and beyond. These are my un-radical resolutions for the radical change ahead.
1. I will be kind, to myself and others.
This lockdown has put a mirror in front of me as a person, a mother, a wife, and a friend. A nagging, insistent mirror too! With no escape, nowhere to go, it has been impossible to run away from my imperfections, my annoying habits, my impatience, my issues, and my insanity. Confrontation is cruel, but also refreshing. I feel more in tune now with my vulnerability and limitations, and that is what ultimately allows me to look around me and be kinder to other people’s equally messed up foundations. I feel more generous, less judgemental, less opinionated, and more patient. This is my moment of kindness.
2. I will be grateful.
This one is thanks to my dear friend and amazing life coach Evita Naumova, who invited me to join her on a gratitude journey 21 days ago. Daily journaling is both sobering and empowering. And yes, I’ve taken many things for granted. To have a healthy body and a comfortable home, for instance. This pandemic has given me a renewed appreciation for what I have. My body and my home are the frames of my soul, two consecutive layers that embrace and protect me. I want to cherish that, return the love, and put more heart into caring for myself and my home. Thank you, Evita, you are precious!
3. I will do what I do best.
I couldn’t have chosen a worse time for a career change, some people say. Well, I am staying put. I’m sticking with my baby. I am a style and lifestyle coach and that is who I really am, now more than ever. Style and lifestyle exploration are my ultimate source of pleasure and joy in life, and I want to share that with people to empower them, especially now.
I am not about ‘shopping until you drop’, buying more things, being trendy, spending money, owning more stuff, having the next it-bag, or living up to fake lifestyle myths imposed by frantic social media. Quite the opposite. I am all about authenticity, buying less but better, making the most out of what you have, taking care of yourself, your home and the planet, slowing down, finding more meaning, and connecting people.
I feel that is more relevant than ever. In fact, the last few weeks have further sharpened my focus. I have a ton of ideas for group discussion evenings on what really matters in life, hands-on DIY style evenings, fun clothing exchanges, ‘go-local’ shopping trips in Brussels and Antwerp, and ‘meet-the-people-behind-the-brand’ experiences.
So there, that is all I have today. This is my zone of control, my mindset, my behaviour, my actions. It may not be much, but I own it!
What are your un-radical resolutions for the radical change ahead?
Please share this post with anyone who, like me, could benefit from an inward perspective in the midst of all the madness out there. Let’s stay healthy and strong together!