Last year at this time, there were no family gatherings during the holidays, no parties, no theater, no schools.
I sat alone at home with my kids on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
At one point I thought:
“I NEVER want to go through this again.”
What did I really mean by that? I wasn’t so sure myself.
We can’t control the progression of the pandemic or the government’s lockdowns (it’s clear we haven’t been able to because now it seems like it’s all happening again).
I decided that next year, my life would look completely different.
But different how?
I had to go through everything detail by detail to find out what worked and what didn’t.
It became a stone-turning project that got me through the winter.
Today – a year later – we are going to go through another round of closed schools and different types of restrictions, but my life actually looks completely different.
Last year we lived in an apartment in Copenhagen. Now we live in a house in Cascais in Portugal.
In my business, I’ve changed the workflow completely, and I’ve multiplied my turnover 10x.
I wouldn’t have made those deep changes if the second lockdown didn’t stir everything.
I can honestly say that my life has been radically changed by the lockdown last year.
To the extent that I almost welcome another round of restrictions (but not really).
But how do you turn these lockdown limitations into a force of good?
In this blog post I will give you five strategies to turn this round of restrictions into one of the best experiences of your life.
1. Accept That Suffering Is a Part of Life
Sometimes we can have childish expectations that life should be fun and easy, a long Instagram-worthy party.
With that attitude, we feel terribly disappointed during a lockdown (and yet another and yet another) because life doesn’t match our slightly spoiled (but maybe subconscious) attitude and wishes.
It helps to accept that life is a mixed bag of experiences. We all have good and bad days. We all go through times of difficulty. There will be sunshine, and there will be rain.
It’s often the difficult periods that move us to change and develop. A difficult period can actually be a great gift if you treat it as one.
When we accept that suffering is an integral part of life, it becomes much easier for us to bear it – and hear the message in it. Accepting suffering as a natural part of life is actually crucial.
2. Be Aware of Your Purpose
Why are we here? How can you contribute?
In the book Man’s Search for Meaning, psychologist Viktor Frankl describes how occasionally, prisoners in concentration camps received cigarettes as payment. The cigarettes could be exchanged for food, which could ensure another 14 days of survival.
He looked in amazement at the prisoners who chose to smoke a cigarette. He knew they had given up and would not live long.
They prioritized a moment of enjoyment over survival. They often died shortly after.
Why does someone give up? Because they can no longer see the point of living life.
Why do they lose the sense that life has a meaning while others retain a sense of purpose – even under the most extreme conditions?
Meaning in life comes from within us and depends on whether we can see the bigger picture and set our sights on a purpose bigger than ourselves.
Meaning can come from love, from a faith, or from an important piece of work to which we contribute.
There is no doubt that there will be great “meaning” to it all if you have a purpose that drives you forward.
It can carry you through difficult times.
3. Choose Your Attitude Carefully
The other day, I read a blog post about a dad’s reaction the moment it dawned on him that his newborn son had Down syndrome.
His wife had just given birth, and the baby was completely silent. The doctors were quiet. For a moment he was afraid the baby was stillborn.
When he went to look at the child, he saw the crooked eyes and knew the answer.
In a split second, he discovered that he could choose between doubt and fear… or love. He could choose to worry how they would cope, how they would pay the medical bills, how the rest of the family would react… or he could choose to indulge in a feeling of love for the child no matter what.
It’s wonderful that we always have a choice, but we forget that we can choose our attitude – even in difficult times with upsets.
You don’t have let the restrictions discourage you. (That’s probably annoying to read if you’re upset about having to work from home.)
But ask yourself if it’s not true that there is a crack where you can see some other feelings peeking through?
Leave an opening so you can find alternative reactions.
4. Build Good Daily Habits
Good daily habits can carry us through a lot.
I remember my rhythm from the first lockdown when I was at home with two small children and had to work my way through it.
In the morning we went to the bakery (that was still possible).
With two young children (they were 3 and 6 years old at the time), that’s an adventure in itself.
Back home, I put a film on so I could work a little. Then we had lunch.
Then a friend’s teenage children came by to look after the children outside for two hours. I worked a little more.
In the afternoon we had a creative project: modeling beeswax, pearler bead crafts, drawing, and so on. Then dinner.
In the evenings while they slept, I worked again.
If you don’t have children, you’ll have some other routines and habits.
Whatever habits you adopt, you need to have at least these three key elements:
- Light, fresh air, and exercise. A walk is enough.
- Social contact. This can also be a Zoom meeting or a phone call.
- Some work or an interest that gives you a sense of meaning.
5. Find a Project That You Care About
There’ll be a lot of things in the near future that you can’t do.
But there is still a lot that you can do.
It’s mostly life outside that is affected. There’s no limit to what you can learn and create in your home.
I would suggest you find a project that you really care about.
What exactly it is doesn’t matter so much.
You may want to learn Italian online.
You may want to read all of Shakespeare’s works.
You may want to learn to knit.
Or it may be that you want to learn to invest.
Of course, I suggest the latter, because my purpose that drives me is to teach people to invest in stocks in a way that allows you to become financially independent.
If investing is the project you choose, I have good news for you.
I’m going to be launching my beta version of my value investing course in English in early January. Let me know if it’s something you are interested in. You can just shoot me an email and tell me.
Don’t forget to download my e-book Free Yourself where you’ll learn to invest as one of the best – super charge yourself through the plateaus. You can download it here.