Reflect, Recover and Reset

Reflect, Recover and Reset

COVID-19 has forced many of us to re-evaluate what really matters to us. It’s also made us think about what we do, how we do it, and how we can still achieve what we want to do. This applies equally in our personal lives and our careers, so now’s the time to reflect, recover and reset.

The plans you have for the future, and the dreams you might have nurtured, are very likely to be on hold. You may well be wondering whether there’s any point planning anything. Well, there is…

As 2020 gives way to 2021, take a moment to pause and reflect. Things have changed so dramatically that we could all benefit from looking back at the past year. It’s a chance to think over what you’ve learned about yourself, and what you want from life. It’s a great opportunity to re-evaluate your priorities, and to think about your core values. And not everything will have been a disaster. It’s also worth considering what went well.

In this article, I will help you to reflect on what’s happened in the last year. I will also offer you some help on how to recover from the setbacks and struggles that you are most likely to have faced, including job loss, money problems, and poor mental health. Perhaps, most importantly, by reading this blog it will offer you a chance to reset.

The concept of Reflect, Recover and Reset helps you to look at where you are now. You might not be in a good place right now, but you can use this approach as a base to move on from.

Reflect, Recover and Reset

2020 was a rough year. For individuals, for businesses, for whole industries. Whether you’ve been directly affected by COVID, or suffered from the knock-on economic and social effects, you’re probably in a very different state of mind from this time a year ago.

But even in an uncertain, COVID world, you can still find joy and purpose in planning for a better future. And, when things seem to be at their most bleak, this is so important right now. Setting yourself goals that you really want to achieve, and planning out how to reach them, is energising and empowering. And that’s true even if the immediate future seems uncertain.

Even so, it’s vital to acknowledge if things are not great for you. You’ll need to take stock of where you are and what you can realistically achieve from that position. And look at those parts of your life that have likely taken a hit in the last year: your finances, your job security, your sense of connection to other people, and your levels of stress and anxiety.

If you’re ready to make 2021 a gamechanger year, then use these Golden Nuggets to move on from where you are to where you want to be. Now, more than ever, you can benefit from looking towards a future beyond COVID. You can allow yourself to start dreaming.

Golden Nuggets

1. Drop the shame – Organising your finances

If you’re struggling financially, your health and your work can suffer too. This can spiral, threatening your future and leading to more trouble. To help you to deal with these issues, take control now. Set goals for your finances. These may have to be modest, particularly if you’ve lost income, but they’ll give you a structure to work to.

Organise bank accounts that work for you, so that you can keep track of your money, and tackle your debts before they become a problem. Prioritise and protect your essentials, such as mortgage, rent and food, then approach your creditors about the riskiest debts first. You may be able to negotiate a payment holiday, or a staged repayment plan.

Save whenever you can, even if only small amounts. This means you won’t be taken by surprise by emergency expenses.

Ask for help: overcome any fear or shame that you may be feeling and get the support you need.

Top Tip

Create and manage a budget by following these steps:

  1. Make a list of all your regular income. This includes your salary and any scheduled payments from other sources. Don’t include “possible” or “likely” income that you can’t guarantee. If it doesn’t materialise, you will have a shortfall.
  2. Check your statements. Do you know what every payment is for?
  3. Now list your essential expenses. This includes payments for your mortgage or rent, water, fuel, food, phone, and insurances.
  4. List your non-essential outgoings. Include everything you can reasonably live without.
  5. Target your non-essential list first. Do you really need all those channels on your TV package? Those credit card protection fees or take-out coffees? Could you safely walk or cycle instead of driving – sometimes?
  6. Now look at your essentials. Price comparison websites can help you to save money here. And are you paying for actual use or an estimate? Consider switching your usual supermarket or cooking more from scratch.

2. Fight the isolation – Dealing with loneliness

It’s possible to feel isolated and lonely even when you’re with other people; in fact, it can be even worse than when you’re actually on your own. Since the onset of COVID-19, you’ve probably had to get used to new ways of working, and new or different working environments. You may be working alone, perhaps for the first time. You may not be able to see friends and family as easily as you once could.

In this situation, building high-quality connections with others is important to your sense of well-being. That’s not easy if you’re having to work remotely, of course. But if you reach out, you’re likely to find other people who feel the same way as you do.

For a start, find your allies. Confiding in positive-minded people can make a huge difference to how you feel and can help you to gain a new perspective on your situation. Networks such as Facebook Groups, LinkedIn and Instagram can be valuable, too, for encouragement and information (be sure to avoid the more toxic side of social media, which will sap your morale).

When you have a well-developed support system, you can get the help you need, when you need it. You’ll always have someone to turn to, talk to, and help you bring your thoughts back to reality, as well as brainstorming solutions. Your support network can include a variety of people, such as:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Current and former co-workers
  • Managers
  • Mentors and coaches
  • Peer support groups
  • Employee Assistance Programs through your employer or there are many charities that can help

It’s easiest to build your network with friends and family, but include people at work, too. These people can provide you with more specific assistance when your feelings of isolation are work related.

Top Tip

Take some time right now to think about your support network. Write the names of four people that you can turn to for support when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Note down the basis of your relationship: are they friends/family, your boss, colleagues, or someone else? Ideally, you’ll have a variety of people who you can turn to. Then, think about why you consider them as allies.

  • Have they provided you with support in the past?
  • Do you provide mutual support to one another?

Record the history of support between yourself and each individual. Then consider whether it would be helpful or appropriate to make some of these relationships more reciprocal. If so, how could you do this?

3. Be alert – Stress, Burnout and Anxiety

One of the most significant effects of the COVID pandemic has been on the number of people seeking help with their mental health.

The virus itself is frightening, particularly if you’re more susceptible to it, or have loved ones who are. Then there are the other sources of anxiety: job loss, financial worries, and isolation from your friends and co-workers. But for many people, COVID has also taken away the sense of being in control of their lives. And stress is what you experience when you feel that you’re not in control.

If you’re still in work, you’ve probably had to adapt the way you do things, perhaps taking on a heavier workload. You may have had to develop new skills at short notice. This can lead to a sense of being overwhelmed. In time, it can even lead to burnout, a serious and damaging condition.

Be alert to the impact of stress. Look for any signs that you might be suffering from depression or anxiety, such as difficulty concentrating and remembering details, excessive tiredness, difficulty sleeping, over or under eating, shaking, sweating, or worrisome thoughts.

  • Be kind to yourself. At times of stress, it’s all too easy to feel that everything’s your fault, or that you should be doing better. Banish this kind of negative self-talk by celebrating your achievements. Use affirmations to think more positively and raise your mood.
  • Look after yourself. It’s important to look after your physical health by exercising, eating well, and getting enough good-quality sleep. If you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired it can affect your state of mind and make you more susceptible to stress.
  • Practice relaxation. Deep breathing and muscular relaxation are useful techniques that you can use to relax your body and manage stress.
  • Keep a Stress Diary. This is a detailed record of the times you feel stressed, what caused the stress, and how you reacted. It can help you to understand the precise causes of your stress, and how to improve the way you manage it.

Top Tip

Make regular entries in your Stress Diary throughout your day, or after any stressful incident, and record the following information:

  1. The date and time.
  2. The most recent stressful event you experienced.
  3. How happy you feel now, using a subjective assessment on a scale of 0 (the most unhappy you’ve ever been) to 10 (the happiest you’ve been). Also write down your current mood.
  4. How effectively you’re working now (a subjective assessment, on a scale of 0 to 10). A zero here would show complete ineffectiveness, while a 10 would show the greatest effectiveness you have ever achieved.
  5. The fundamental cause of the stress (be as honest and objective as possible).
  6. The symptoms you felt. These could include anger, headache, raised pulse rate, sweaty palms, and so on.
  7. How well you handled the event. Did your reaction help to solve the problem, or did it make things worse?

Look at the different stresses you experienced during the time you kept your diary.

Highlight the most frequent stresses, and the ones that were the most unpleasant. 

Look at your assessments of their underlying causes, and your appraisal of how well you handled the stressful events. Do they highlight issues that need to be fixed? If so, list these issues.

Look through your diary at the situations that cause you stress. List ways in which you can change these situations for the better. 

Look at how you felt when you were under pressure and explore how it affected your happiness and your effectiveness. Was there a middle level of pressure at which you were happiest and performed best? 

So, let’s summarise those Golden Nuggets again:

  1. Drop the shame
  2. Fight the isolation
  3. Be alert

Work with a coach

Sometimes we get really stuck when dealing with our past or current situations that are holding us back. When this happens, no matter how hard we try on our own, we might never be able to move forward and get to where we want to be in life. In these instances, working with a coach can help you.

A coach will ask the right questions to help you figure out what you really want in life, what’s getting in your way and how to overcome these. They can help you change your thinking so that you can change your life.

Coaching can be helpful whether you have just one issue or several; you may just need a few sessions or on a more regular basis, ongoing basis, depending on your needs. Sometimes asking for help can be the most hopeful and powerful step you can take to live a happier, healthier and fulfilled life.

If you have found this useful, then please share this with anyone you know who would also benefit to help them along their journey in life.

Thank you for joining me and I look forward to seeing you again next week for Pura Vida Your Life Happenings for insight, inspiration and more golden nuggets to help you live a happier and fulfilled life.

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Until next time – Pura Vida!