My four-year-old son and I have been at home alone together for seven weeks. No friends, no family, no childcare, no help in our house – just us. Some days are amazing, others are exasperating. The good days are when I’m focused on Grayson and am not swimming in a sea of what-if distractions. The bad days are when I’m filled with fear and worry.
Some days I’m consumed with concern about the future. When will we be able to fly? When will I be able to do what I’m most passionate about – working with groups of people at conferences and training sessions? When should I have my staff ramp up? How can we cut costs? Will summer camps be canceled? What will we do this summer when it’s 100 degrees and pools are closed? When will it be safe to have our childcare provider return to our home? Will my son have school in the fall?
Intellectually I know that the only way to be happy, regardless of the circumstances, is to be present. There is nothing to compare to the present. When we live in the present there is no past and no future – there is only now. Nothing can be wrong with now because there is nothing to compare the current time and experience to.
I’m way out of my lane here. As you likely know, I don’t typically stray from my expertise – helping people communicate and work better together at work. Zen philosophy is not my area of expertise. But I have a feeling you’re like me – losing sleep, (possibly) gaining weight, and suffering about what the future might look like.
I want to enjoy this precious time with my little boy. We’ll never have time like this again – just us. Next year he’ll be older and not so interested in playing trains and trucks with me. He’ll want to go to his friends’ house versus playing in our backyard together. Precious, fleeting time.
I can’t do anything about when it will be safe to travel, be in a hotel ballroom, or send my son to school. I can look into my child’s precious eyes and remember that my job is to be here for him, today. To be great for him, regardless of the circumstances. I can keep in touch with you and find out how you and your coworkers and customers are doing. I can offer webinars that, while not in-person, are an effective way to connect with people and help build necessary skills.
I can focus on the actions I can take now.
Here are seven strategies I’m using to stay in the here and now:
Do what you need to function at a decent level each day: I need six hours of sleep and a tidy house.
Structure your workday for success: Work in small chunks. Tell your boss, coworkers, and customers when you’ll be available. Be realistic and forthright.
Put your cell phone away and silence alerts when you’re with family or doing things for yourself.
When you find yourself thinking about the future, direct your thoughts to something you can impact.
Call a friend or coworker you haven’t talked to in a long time.
Smile at whomever you’re with, just because. You’ll both feel better.
Do one thing every day that makes you happy – a long shower, time outside, activities with your family, read a book. Something that takes you away from the what-if’s playing ping pong in your head.
Silence your concerns about the future, for now. Be present with whomever you’re with. See if things look and feel better.