Navigating the new normal: A note to professional women
We must remember that in times of uncertainty, necessity can be the mother of invention.
It’s hard not to have panicked feelings as a professional woman these days. Though we see signs of a phased return to ”normal,” the economy is still struggling, work from home remains the recommended course of action, and the return to our previous ways of living and working may be many months away. Our news feeds tend to be doom and gloom and the world feels like it’s falling apart. Even the most serene among us are likely feeling anxiety on some level.
And these feelings are justified; coronavirus has disproportionately affected working women. This fact is partially due to where we work, as the industries most impacted by the virus (such as lifestyle, healthcare, and hospitality) tend to have a higher proportion of female workers. Additionally, as a recent article in Forbes outlines, working women are hit particularly hard by the virus because they are also trying to manage their professional careers while acting as COO of their households. Women tend to manage most parenting duties and household responsibilities and it can be a lot to manage.
I am balancing work with Lego time and other mom duties. There just isn’t time in the day to fully focus on work like I did pre-COVID. This new life is slow, and different; and different can certainly be anxiety producing. We may not be able to change our situation, or ever find a true balance between work and home life, but we can find peace.
Here are my tips for all the go-getting professional women out there who are struggling to find their stride during COVID-19.
As a business owner whose company relies primarily on face-to-face, person-to-person interactions, the COVID-19 crisis has required a major shift in my business model. It is hard, difference and scary, but the first step toward finding any type of serenity in our new normal is accepting the change. I repeat mantras to myself, sometimes saying them out loud helps.
Some of these mantras include: I cannot devote a full, uninterrupted eight hours to my work right now and that’s OK.; I did not get through my to-do list today, but I did get spend some special time bonding with my son over a puzzle.
Use downtime to reflect
In our normal pace of life, we are constantly running; running to work, to drop kids off at school, to meet friends, to soccer practice, to take care of errands. With all this running, there is hardly a moment to sit quietly and reflect. Now that we have nowhere to go, use this time to reflect on your position.
Ask yourself what is it that you want in life? What are your priorities? Is your work fulfilling? Do you feel good about your personal health? Are your relationships what you want them to be? Is your mental health a priority? If any of your answers indicate that you need to make a change, why not do it now? Take advantage of this time to work on what needs fixing. Though therapists can’t meet with you face-to-face, telehealth counseling is a great way to start healing from the comfort of your home.
It feels as though the world is imploding, but let’s all take a moment to breathe and remember, nothing is or ever was guaranteed in this life. Other factors could have caused your business to close or your company to adjust its course. As a professional woman, it’s hard to watch everything you’ve worked for come to a screeching halt. But take a moment to ask yourself, how are things at this exact moment? What can you control or change today? Focus on the present, take it one day at a time.
We must remember that in times of uncertainty, necessity can be the mother of invention. During the 2008 Recession, many new businesses and business models were created, including Airbnb, Warby Parker, and Spotify. All of us have had to start from scratch at some point, perhaps this strange pause in life is a time for us all to course-correct and think of ways to live our lives in a better, healthier way. Perhaps this is a sign that we can and should spend time working on our mental health, personal wellness, families and relationships. Perhaps it is a good time to accept our circumstances and, both literally and figuratively, clean house and start fresh.