We are hardwired to look for and emphasize the negative. This is what gives rise to our perfectionist tendencies; perfectionism sounds positive, but is in fact an avoidance and intolerance of the imperfect. While it is easy to be negative, it isn’t necessarily very productive, though. And while optimism to some might represent an unrealistic and impractical viewing of the world through idealistic rose-coloured glasses, there is a great deal of insight to suggest that highlighting the positive makes a world of difference. Optimism might not be innate, but for your future success it might just be vital.
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.
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.
That we are in a collective and unprecedented liminal experience is pretty much beyond debate. We are also now at a point where we can see the return to something like normalcy being dangled tantalizingly before us, somewhere in the near-distant future. The question is where we want to go from here. The pandemic is a universally experienced imposition of reality where none of us had control. Emerging from the pandemic, however, is an entirely different proposition. We have choice. We have opportunity. We have agency. But what do we do with it?
Acting with intention is an interesting notion. Intention—our ability to choose our response and act upon it—is our unique gift as human beings. We don’t just react, but can instead choose to act. The challenge is that we don’t always do so, and there are several ways that we undermine our ability to act and to exercise the agency that we theoretically enjoy. Understanding what compromises our intention, and knowing how to overcome those impulses, is essential to being able to take the steps that we most value.