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Living With vs. Getting Through

When the pandemic hit, many people had the understandable reaction that “we’re going to get through this.” It’s natural to tell yourself to “buckle up and power through.” It’s an appropriate mindset for short-term situations where things will move back to their previous state and there will be recovery time. By Spring 2021, with the broad availability of vaccines, it looked like things were finally going to settle down.

 All of us were ready to put the events of 2020 squarely behind us and “go back to where things were.” Firms began developing back-to-work strategies and planned for a re-opening in the fall. Schools were preparing for students to be back in the classroom full time. We all looked forward to the impending sense of normalcy.

The delta variant showed that we weren’t “going back to normal.” Now we would always have to navigate an ongoing uncertainty. We would have to make risk calculations – even if we are vaccinated. It felt like we had taken two steps back and we were not going to get out of the purgatory of the never-ending monotony.

The “powering through” mindset keeps us floating above the surface in the same place to avoid entanglements and enables us to easily pick up where things left off. It also leads to the burnout that many are experiencing. It doesn’t allow us to definitively move forward and participate in the deep engagement required to make substantive changes.

Our new reality requires a new mindset of “acceptance.” Through acceptance of the new paths ahead of us, we let go of expectation and anticipation of returning to the past. We can definitively step into the future. This mindset acknowledges, gives space, and allows many of our new realities to be fully realized - including our new decision processes, lifestyles, and philosophical shifts on work, family, our own purpose, and aspirations. By accepting the present for what it is and the new future that lays ahead, we let in the new possibilities and limitations. We can now submerge ourselves in realizing the new visions we created.