For many Americans, this is a trying time, and for good reason — we are in the midst of a generation pandemic, likely to be the worst in a century. Millions are out of work, and with state unemployment sites well over capacity, it can be hard to feel good about things.
Let me offer a little shelter from the storm.
Ignore the root cause for a moment; what we are experiencing is nothing short than the greatest opportunity you have to better yourself in your lifetime. Almost for certain. That’s absurd, to know something like that in the present moment.
With the gears of capitalism grinding to a halt, many of us have been relieved of the majority of our duties and obligations, for better or for worse. I challenge you to commit to ensuring you fall on to the “better” side of that equation.
Most of us don’t do what we love for a living, that’s a sad reality. Sadder still, most of us work to work, sometimes more than one job, so the culture of personal growth and development feels like a distant land for the privileged. But if you’re out of work right now, you’ve probably found that you are suddenly in great surplus in the most valuable resource which you usually find yourself lacking: time.
The truth is that the vast majority of us find ourselves with an uncomfortable amount of free time. (An aside: I think there’s a giant lesson hiding between the lines of all the people that are struggling with boredom, struggling with having too much free time. It feels as if many of us have lost our identity to such a level that, without the mundane rigors of labor, we don’t have much of anything to us, and sit uncomfortably in that vacant space.)
We, in fact, have more free time now than we are likely to have ever again, in our entire lives, save for retirement. (Are we even still doing that? Does anyone know how?)
So, while the outside world make look grim, the inside world should look incredibly empowering. This is your time to get after literally anything you’ve always wanted to — any craft, any hobby, any subject.
Want to learn to play music? A few hours a day on any instrument for a few months will break you from having just a wish to being at least competent. YouTube has endless tutorials on just about anything you could want to learn.
Looking to advance your career? What better time to take a certification, get a license, or even research what career move you might want to make, and create a plan to get there.
Have a business idea? Download a business plan template, research it, complete it, and give yourself a 1, 2, or 5 year road map to put that plan into action.
Always wanted to write? No time like the present to fire up an online brand, and find your voice. Don’t let the details weigh you down — start first, detail later.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the Great Pause. I’ve completed my writing brand in its entirety — at least for now. I have all of my profiles up, I’m taking action on each of them to grow my following. I designed social graphics that I can quickly adapt to any article, giving this novice writer something most writers don’t have — a strong visual component to my brand.
I even fired up my own website, and as basic as it is, I love it. It serves the purpose of just being a quiet journal for me to document and share the process from ‘I want to write’ to wherever I’m headed.
And I’ve done most all of that with the free time afforded to me by the pandemic.
I encourage you, implore you, beg you, to do the same. A year or two from now, we will look back at how this pandemic changed things, good and bad. While most of the energy in that lane will go to the macro — policy, government, elections — I think it’s crucial to examine self as well.
And when we look at the quarantine through the lens of self, I believe we’ll find there were 2 kinds of people.
One group will have ‘survived’, consuming limitless amounts of empty social media, Netflix, Hulu, and the like, and be back toiling away at a job they hate, with no hope or strategy to transcend that lifestyle.
The other will look back and be able to say that the time granted in the pandemic was the launching pad for the rest of their life.
Join me in the second group? I promise it will be worth it.