Moving to a new community in retirement and building the dream home for my third act is a pretty stressful experience on the scale of stressors. I have mentioned previously how hard it is to integrate into a community of strangers from behind a mask, and I keep reading articles about the importance of friendships and support of people in retirement.
But this weekend I realised that much of this feels within my capability or even within my control. It is COVID and its repercussions that I am finding hard. Why suddenly now you ask? Well, yesterday I received a Whatsapp that really rattled me. A coach with whom I have been collaborating for the past 6 months sent a message to say that she and her husband have tested positive, which explains the headache and persistent cough she has been experiencing. (Don’t worry, I have been meeting with her on Zoom, with a good 180 kms between us) For me, this is the first infected person that is part of my day to day life, and just when we thought we were coming out of it.
I am currently writing an article for another newsletter on VUCA, a way of understanding the environment. It was first coined by the US military back in 1987, during the Cold War! Yet it is particularly relevant to the environment we find ourselves in today:
- Volatile – it rolls out with peaks and troughs that are unexpected and unstable, and we haven’t a clue how long they will last.
- Uncertain – we haven’t a clue how this whole pandemic will run, and what 2021 has in store for us, let alone 2030!
- Complex – the situation has many interconnected parts and variables. It is slowly emerging that there is no real pattern to this illness, some countries like ourselves have lower death rates, some people have sore throats and headaches, some have no symptoms. All variables that make it difficult to define a clear path.
- Ambiguous – causal relationships are unclear as there are no precedents. We still don’t understand this virus or where it really came from and we are already 10 months down the line.
Our ability to deal with the above is entirely dependent on:
- Ability to predict the results of our actions, and
- How much we know about the situation
Based on this, we can take action to reduce the VUCA experience. We need to look for opportunities to gain knowledge about our situation as well activities where we can predict the outcome. Here are some suggestions that are helping me, but I would love to hear from you, my readers, what is working for you:
- Creating a routine to broadly structure each day to build certainty
- Having a project with a tangible outcome that gives purpose (luckily I have a building project which helps ground me!)
- Focussing on those around you who might need help, rather than perpetually looking inward
- Reducing social media input that is designed to create uncertainty and ambiguity such as Facebook and Twitter
- Limiting input from news channels which will reduce the complexity of seemingly conflicting information
- Abiding by the regulations regarding masks, handwashing and social distancing, as President Trump has inadvertently reinforced
- Creating balance in your daily life. Balancing out the mental exertion with physical exercise, countering the anxiety about the future with trust and dissolving your preoccupations with the failures of the past with forgiveness.
I would love to hear what you are doing to get through these trying times. Sometimes i do think it is like living in a Chemistry experiment where nobody knows the outcome!