And Now, the Slog Begins. Here's What to Do About It.
There was the initial frenzy of terrible, painful decisions, crisis management and figuring out new ways of working. And, then there were discoveries of the small delights. The dog has never been happier. More time with the family. It’s nice to see more of the kids. Movie nights, fun and games. Getting up to speed on the whole home-schooling thing. Evening Zoom cocktail hour. And of course… sour dough baking.
It was all new. And new is better than not new.
Or as Voltaire put it:
“If we do not find anything very pleasant, at least we shall find something new.”
But now… it’s a slog.
I bet you can feel it already. My first pang was when I had writer’s block last week, I thought I’d just pop over to my local coffee shop to work. A change of scenery has unblocked me before. And then I remembered – oh.
Zoom meetings get old after a while. Cracks in communication begin to show. More terrible, painful decisions are necessary. We become less productive. We stop dressing for work. This t-shirt looks clean enough. We begin to feel edgy. Our daily walk isn’t cutting it. Apathy begins to set in. We’re bored, bored, bored. Frustration is mounting. We miss your favorite lunch spot, Saturday date-night, sports, movie theatres. Hell, we even miss the commute because at least that’s when we caught up on our podcasts. The kids have moved beyond novelty to stir crazy and are now plotting full on war. We don’t always know what day of the week it is. And god help us, someday soon, we’ll run out of new Jeopardy! episodes (maybe that’s just me).
And yes, there’s the constant, nagging anxiety.
When will this end?
No one knows for sure.
But there’s one thing I know for sure.
The slog is the birthplace of imagination, ingenuity and genius.
Or as Ellen Parr (an author no one seems to know anything about) said:
“The cure for boredom is curiosity.
There is no cure for curiosity.”
Your slog will become what you make of it. You might as well make it count.
Watch out for your tripwires
Our tripwires keep us from achieving the things we want in life. These fear-based negative patterns of belief and behavior are very likely to make an appearance during the slog. We have to watch out for them because they can seriously derail us during what are already precarious times. Not to mention the fact that they generally make us miserable and that they can have painful long-term repercussions. Learn more about your tripwires here.
Stop fighting the slog. It’s here, you don’t control it and it’s a complete waste of energy and focus to do anything but accept it.
Author and spiritualist Caroline Myss tells us to approach each day with no judgement and no expectation, and to give up the need to know what happens tomorrow.
This may sound like an incredibly irresponsible way to live. What do you mean, “give up the need to know what happens tomorrow”? How else will a plan my life?
Well, as it turns out, tomorrow is an unpredictable thing. And judgement and expectation are a great way to introduce negativity into your life.
So just let them go. And then take a deep breath and just get on with it.
Practice both Self-compassion and Self-accountability
I’m all for self-compassion. Most of us are so hard on ourselves. We expect so much and then beat ourselves up for not realizing our unrealistic expectations. A little self-compassion is a rare and wonderful thing.
But the thing about compassion, is that without accountability, it quickly devolves into enablement. And then nothing gets done. In fact, we’re likely to spiral downward into a contractive cycle of self-betrayal.
That ain’t good.
We have to hold space for both compassion and accountability. That means setting goals and expectations with compassion for our little ol’ selves. But then holding ourselves accountable for meeting those goals and expectations. The goals might be smaller. And that’s okay. We’ll have a better chance of meeting them. And then we won’t need to beat ourselves up. And the next compassionate goal can build on that goal. And we’ll hold ourselves accountable and meet it too. And so on.
Now we have room for curiosity. We can breathe. We can think. We can experience joy again. We’re expansive in nature. We communicate more. We read more. We tinker and experiment more. We dramatically reduce our potato chip consumption.
We begin to see solutions and possibility where we couldn’t see them before.
The slog is over, no matter what’s going on in the outside world.