When it comes to the coronavirus, we are all in this together; but we are not in the same boat. You may well find yourself alone at home, either because you are in self-isolation or because your employer has asked you to work from home. You may also find that you have less work to do as this crisis will be putting a stop to many business activities across the globe.
If you are an employee of a cash-rich company, then good for you. You will probably continue to draw your salary. If you run your own business or work for one that has stopped trading, you could well be in a worse position. Last but not least, many of us will also be concerned about the health risks of the pandemic virus.
This article is by no means intended to trivialize the hardship that many of us will experience over the coming weeks or months, however, I would encourage you to find something positive in this difficult situation. Maybe that self-isolation and extra time at hand could be used to create a positive change in your life, or perhaps even new opportunities for your career or business?
Here are a few projects that you could take on while you are stuck at home, if indeed you are not actually ill (in which case you should rest!):
1. Review your life
Most people are so busy running on a hamster wheel each day that they never make time to stop and review their life from a bird’s eye view. I recommend everybody to make time once a year to reflect on the big questions of your life, such as:
- Is this still the life I want to live?
- Do I love my career?
- What would satisfaction in all my key life areas look like?
- What is most important to me in my life?
- Where do I want to be in 5/10/20 years?
If you are in self-isolation, this could be a great opportunity to work through these questions in detail. A coach like myself can assist you with this. Coaching can be done very safely and effectively via Skype video calls. In fact, I receive my own coaching via Skype from people I have never met in person.
2. Learn a new skill
Hand on heart: Who here is guilty of having bought an online course in a bout of enthusiasm but then never completed it? I have for sure! Now is a great time to dig it out and work through the course; or buy a new one and actually complete it this time!
- you always wanted to learn French?
- you know that completing a software coding course would improve your job opportunities?
- you have wanted to learn SEO strategies to boost your business?
- you feel attracted to a creative writing course just for the sheer pleasure of it?
3. Brush up your CV and LinkedIn profile
Speaking of your job, if you are dreaming of greener pastures, how about brushing up your CV and improving your LinkedIn profile? There are lots of guides on how to do this available on the internet or Amazon. You could even go further by reaching out to your network and contacting recruitment agencies or a coach to discuss your career plans. It is quite likely that over the coming weeks they will have more time to talk to you than normal.
4. Learn Meditation & Mindfulness
If you find it hard to stand still and be alone, it’s likely that you would probably benefit from practicing exactly that. Learning to enjoy being mindful and practicing meditation can be life-changing. It can improve your emotional wellbeing, sharpen your mind and reduce stress levels. You may even find that mindfulness will open a door to a completely new joyful experience of life. There are plenty of online courses on mindfulness available; or try a meditation app such as Calm or Headspace.
5. Connect to neglected friends
This could be the most powerful of all the items on my list. Scholars of Positive Psychology tell us that social connections are the most important ingredient to our happiness; much more than our career, that dream job or looking beautiful. Maintaining healthy social connections is particularly important when you are in self-isolation. It helps you keep our mental health on track.
Thanks to modern technology we can still connect to others even when we have to stay at home alone. A skype video call will be almost like having the other person sitting next to you. How about making time to have calls with all those friends and family members that you have been neglecting recently? How cool would it be if this crisis actually brought us closer together despite social distancing?
And don’t forget ordinary phone calls. When was the last time you spoke to a friend and truly listened to them, fully concentrating on their voice without browsing the internet at the same time?
6. Create a business plan
Ever dreamed of running your own business? Do you have lots of ideas but don’t know how to make them happen? How about taking one of those ideas and think them through in detail! You can download a basic business plan template from the internet that tells you about all the items to consider, such as the basic concept, ideal client, the pricing model, route to market, etc. Do a SWOT analysis (you can look that one up too!) and exchange ideas with your friends over Skype. You can also work with a coach to explore and test your ideas.
Perhaps you could start by creating a website for your business? Sites like Wix and Squarespace make it super easy and fun.
7. Get fit
Get fit at home! How, you may wonder? Well, if you have free floor space of at least 1m x 2m, then that’s all you need to do a tough workout. There are lots of apps that offer workout routines that don’t require any equipment. My favorite is Freeletics. You tell the app your goals, basic stats and fitness levels and it will deliver weekly tailored fitness plans. You may be surprised how tough they can be. Exercises such as burpees, push-ups and lunges will increase your fitness very quickly.
Obviously, don’t work out if you are actually ill with the coronavirus. In that case, your body will need all energy for recovery.
8. Sort out your finances
Do you know how much money and assets you have, and how much you spend on what? Do you have a nest egg and a retirement plan? These are topics that we tend to avoid, partly because retirement seems so far away, but also because we don’t really want to look into our finances out of fear of what we might find.
Well, now is a good time to do exactly that. Dig out your bank statements and create a list of where your money goes. Are you spending too much on the wrong things? Do you have savings to help you through times of crisis like the one we are facing right now? Perhaps it’s time to change your spending and savings patterns?
If you find this hard to do, you don’t need to do it alone:
- There are lots of apps that can help you with spend monitoring.
- Contact a financial advisor to discuss your retirement plans.
- Some charities offer free financial coaching.
- Get a lawyer to finally make a will. It’s cheaper than you think.
9. Declutter your home
Our home environment has a massive impact on our emotional wellbeing. Any of the following may well affect how you feel at home:
- Your house is cluttered with lots of stuff that you don’t need.
- There are piles of work that you think you “should” be doing.
- Your home looks faded or untidy.
- There are unfinished DIY jobs in every corner.
These things can be real energy-suckers. How about using your free time in self-isolation for a proper spring clean:
- Ruthlessly give away to charity what you don’t need.
- Tidy up your rooms, drawers and cabinets.
- Apply a fresh coat of paint to your walls.
- Create a list of all jobs that need to be done and complete one of them each day.
Then enjoy the wonderful feeling of a lighter and fresh environment.
10. Spring clean your garden
Having sorted out your home, how about working on your outdoor space if you have any? Gardening is a fantastic activity with plenty of benefits such as:
- physical activity that improves your fitness
- exercising your creativity in a healthy setting
- connecting you to nature
- calming your senses and any anxiety you may be feeling
- satisfaction from creating a beautiful space
What’s your next project?
Hopefully, one or two of the ideas in this article have inspired you to pick a project that creates a new opportunity in this time of social distancing. Maybe the list even promoted a better idea of your own?
It all boils down to a key life skill that I cherish:
Rather than focusing on what you can NOT do, focus on what you CAN do!
This mindset turns an unhelpful complaint into a resourceful question that can generate new solutions for your life.
You are the master of your own life. What are you going to do with it?
(Don’t just eat and drink too much and watch TV… That’s on you. This is your moment! Do something productive!)
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