Yes, you can design your new normal. You can also work towards realizing it. That doesn’t mean it is always going to be fun, easy or enjoyable. That is probably the most important thing to contemplate as you consider what you want your new normal to become. For whatever you are leaving behind and changing, what you move towards will have its own challenges. For all that you dream and aspire towards and envision your optimal, desired future, there are aspects that are going to suck. Going in with eyes wide open can help you get past the obstacles. Being prepared to do that is absolutely essential.
It is one thing to design what you want your new normal to look like. Getting there is a different matter, and one that is important to acknowledge. You may feel completely confident about your decisions and choices in the moment. Enacting them, communicating them and sharing them with others can be its own challenge. Whether you are trying to make changes at work, personally or in your relationships, part of getting what you want will involve negotiating with others. There is no one more challenging to negotiate with than yourself.
We all get to choose who we wish to become. While that has always been true, there have been few opportunities quite so significant and meaningful as the situation in which we find ourselves today. We have been collectively in a liminal transition from the start of the pandemic. While we didn’t choose this, there are opportunities to learn from it. In particular, there is a choice of how each of us emerges from the experience. This isn’t about going back to where you were before; none of us are doing that fully. As you navigate towards your next normal, you have the opportunity to use your current liminal reality to shape and define who your future self. There will never be a better opportunity for broad reinvention of who you become and where you go than the situation you find yourself in today.
I have always been a generalist. To a certain extent, that is the consequence of the foundation of my career being project management. Project managers are in many ways the ultimate generalists. Being a generalist, though, often gets dismissed or derided as lacking depth, being a dilettante or being variable in approach or understanding. Those ideas are embedded in the very definition of the term, and our system biases towards specialization and expertise reinforce them further. Despite this, generalists provide a critical role in collaboration and particularly problem solving; areas where depth of expertise is presumed to carry the day. It could be that being a generalist has expertise of its own.
You can attempt to push through by sheer will alone. In fact, you can do so for a surprisingly long time. While it might work as a strategy in the short term, it is rarely sustainable in the long-term. What you think is in your circle of control is very often at best open to influence, and might be entirely dependent upon luck. Recognizing that is the first challenge. Knowing what to do about it comes next.
At the start of the pandemic, all of us wanted a reset button. The desire was enormous to go back to the way things were. That idea was a non-starter then, and nothing has changed about it. For many of us, what we have experienced since has felt less like a reset button than a pause button. The world has suspended itself in a repeating cycle of lockdowns, cautious reopening and questions about when the next normal might assert itself. We may be getting close, finally. As we do, a different reset button is presenting itself. It is an open question about whether you will push it or not.