By Amy Kan
There is a saying: “How you do anything is how you do everything.” In other words, what is the root cause of our actions—why we behave the way we do, our mindset? If you are steeped in feelings of stress and anxiety, believing you’re a victim of circumstances, those feelings will form the basis of everything you do. You will limit your options and your ability to see anything but what is directly in front of you.
Unfortunately, we are living at a time in which it’s easy to find yourself with a negative mindset, but there is no need to stay there. The following are ways you can start to shift your mindset, to take off the blinders so that you broaden your view and see new opportunities.
1. Focus on those you serve
Whether it’s customers, clients, patients, or employees, the people you serve need you right now. Think about what they are going through. Are they furloughed, laid-off, or apprehensive about their job prospects? Are they struggling caring for kids at home while trying to hold down their jobs? Are they bored? If you are a manager, think about how your employees are doing working from home. What do they need?
What you do now is an investment in your future. Think beyond your current business model, about how you can contribute to the well-being of the people you serve. It is what your clients, customers, and employees will remember you for when this is all over.
2. Be intentional with your time and schedule it
Can you account for how you are spending your time, or does it feel like you are in a daze of reading news feeds or marketing emails? Rather than suggest you be more productive, I advise you to be intentional. Think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. If you are having trouble focusing or getting work done, schedule blocks of time when you are usually most productive to get things done, and then sit down with an intention to do it.
It’s not just work that I am talking about. Think about the moments you actually enjoy. Is it spending more time with your kids, time outside walking the dog, cooking or baking just for fun? Maybe it’s working on a jigsaw puzzle. Whatever it is, take note. Embrace it. It’s okay to experience these moments, and you will get even more enjoyment from them, if you are intentional about doing them. Instead of feeling like you are taking part in something unproductive, schedule time in your day for these activities too, and allow yourself to look forward to doing them.
3. Shift your ideas about a workweek
Work-life balance presents a whole new set of challenges right now when everyone is home at the same time. Many parents have added homeschooling to their job descriptions and must find time between meetings to care for young kids.
We are living in a time when, for many of us, it is difficult to distinguish the days of the week. Where you have flexibility around what work gets done when, consider shifting the hours you are “at work.” Perhaps shift to a more flexible workweek where one or two days falls on the weekend. For parents, this may allow you to spend more quality time with your kids, and in two-parent households you can time shift parenting responsibilities with your partner—one on, one off—giving each of you focused time at work and with your kids.
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4. Focus on the stuff you have control over
Feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed are usually the result of things we can’t control. The trick is to let those things go, and focus our energy on those things we do have power over. While we can’t control the pandemic, quarantines, and the economy, we can choose to take responsibility for our own behavior. We can control how we respond.
Try this. Make three lists:
- Things that you have control over
- Things you can influence
- Things that you have no control over
Go to list #1, the things you have control over, and take one action step on one item, today. On list #2, write down steps you can take to move the needle. And for the items on list #3–cross them out! As you move forward, focus your thoughts and actions on the first two lists.
5. Look for opportunities
How you view your situation will determine how you respond to it. If you see it as something that is happening to you, over which you have no control, it will be harder to get through it. Instead, start looking at what you have, instead of what you don’t. Where are there opportunities to innovate, to develop yourself or others, to create, to serve? Shift to this way of thinking and you may actually come out of this for the better.
Examples abound of people and companies who are finding innovative ways to evolve. Globally, we have seen distilleries changing their production from alcohol to hand sanitizer, and manufacturing companies like Dyson and Tesla moving into production of medical equipment. Locally, there are restaurants cooking family meals for curbside pickup and offering hard-to-find pantry ingredients for sale. I heard of one local hair salon that delivered hair color care-packages to its clients, complete with instructions, so clients could do at-home touch-ups.
A new mindset
Shifting your mindset can be difficult in a time like this, a time without context or precedent, and one full of uncertainty. It is important to remember that even in the best of times, we can only count on today and do our best in the moment we have.
If you can be intentional about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and shift your mindset to focus on the things over which you have control, you will find that how you do everything is with intention, a view to opportunity and greater confidence in the future—whatever that might look like.
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