[Article] Stop the world – I want to get off

Have you ever thought – or even said – “stop the world – I want to get off!”?

I remember when I had a demanding corporate job involving lots of travel and some weekend working as well as a responsible role in a voluntary organisation, I would sometimes wake up in the morning, mentally review the day ahead and feel completely overwhelmed.

I longed for a few days where nobody was expecting anything from me, so I could stop, breathe and relax.  That didn’t often happen, and I ended up working myself to a complete standstill and having an enforced rest for six weeks. I learned a lot from that experience and it was one of the turning points that resulted in me starting my own business.

It’s been a few years since I had that ‘stop the world’ feeling, but I was reminded of it when the world did indeed come to a stop and I had the opportunity to ‘get off’ the never-ending cycle of business and housekeeping.  Of constantly feeling a bit behind with everything and often failing to achieve everything I’d planned for a day.

Yes, I can get like that.  Despite all my training, I’m not always gliding through life with everything perfectly under control!

And so here we are….

I’m confined to my home like millions of others.  I’ve had flu symptoms and felt really unwell for most of two weeks and when I finally felt that I wanted to work again, the world had changed.  (I almost wrote ‘the world had moved on’, but it doesn’t feel like that.  It feels like it’s stopped.)

At first, it’s a shock.  You don’t have to leave the house.  You can’t leave the house.  You have time.  You have time to do whatever you like.  All those hours you would have spent travelling, in meetings, working.  There isn’t enough to fill all the hours you have now.  What are you going to do?

I like to read.  I’ve read a lot of books since all the events in my calendar were cancelled.

I’m meeting my team via zoom once a week.  That’s a novelty – and it’s reminding us why we like to work together.  We actually like each other and we get along well.

And yet…

There is a question lurking in the back of my mind that won’t be ignored:

Is anything ever going to be the same again?  It seems impossible that we can emerge from this unaffected by the weeks of enforced isolation.  It seems impossible that we will be able to pick up where we left off.  We have all learned something about ourselves.  We’ve noticed what’s really important.  We’ve missed some people and haven’t missed others.  We’ve learned to do business using virtual tools.

When this is over, how do you want your life to be different from the way it was before?  If your habits are inevitably going to change, how do you want them to be different?  If you’re gong to emerge from this and look back on it fondly, how are you going to spend your time whilst we’re in lockdown?

I’m not saying I’ve worked out the answers to all of these questions for myself yet, but I’m sure that I don’t want to look back on my period of enforced isolation as a wasted opportunity.  I don’t want to look back and think, “I could have used that time to…”

I’m determined that I’m going to look back on this and think, the world stopped, I was allowed to get off for a while and I came back refreshed, prepared and a better person for the experience.

Now more than ever before, I think it’s important to remember that we have choice.  We can choose what we think about.  We can choose how we behave and we can choose our attitudes to what’s going on in our world.  Choose wisely!

  1. Thank you for this Dianne.
    I’ve gone through so many major changes since leaving RBS, I’m looking at this period as just another change…..we’ll most of the time!
    Ive found opportunities to “replace” some things, like a brisk 1 hour a day rather than my aqua aerobics classes, I’m still working part time from home……these days I’m a trainer in Mental Health and it has been a challenge to find different ways of staying connected with our “students” many of whom are going through a hard time with anxiety and depression, but I must admit the challenge of working differently, coming up with the ideas and then looking at ways to implement them has been creative and dare I say fun! I’ve found the biggest thing for me is to be kind to myself, not beat myself up for not completing what I’d set myself to do, being grateful for the little things in life and celebrating achievements no matter how small they may appear when compared to a few weeks ago. I’m using the time I’m being giving to put together a list of things I could do (rather than should) and enjoying the sunshine.

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