My future normal does not look like the past

Many people are saying “I can’t wait for things to go back to normal” and I disagree.

The new normal I am currently living in is different from the old normal I was living before, but it is not worse. My future normal post-pandemic definitely does not look the same as my past.

Why go back, when we can move forward?

During this “quarantime,” I have taken the opportunity to truly recognize the things in my life that bring me joy and make me feel fully alive, versus the things that take away my energy or that I was just doing out of the sake of obligation or guilt.

My Old Normal

My old normal looked stressful, life draining and mundane.

Waking up at 4:45AM to squeeze a workout in before leaving for work in a rush.

Eating breakfast while I am driving to work or not until I get to my office desk.

Driving for an hour in high stress and high traffic on the most deadly highway in the USA (shoutout to I-45).

Shuffling from meeting to meeting and sitting all day without time to eat lunch, go outside or even go to the freakin’ bathroom.

Working later than I need to, driving home in the dark.

Going to an occasional happy hour with friends to relieve the stress of work.

Eating a late dinner in front of the TV and falling asleep on the couch watching whatever new show is on that night.

Most weekends, I would travel out of town as much as possible to seek new adventures just so I could feel alive again and try to resuscitate the drained, exhausted person I had become over the course of the week.

Fly out Friday night, run myself ragged all weekend with adventures, fly home late Sunday night. Be back at it at 4:45AM on Monday morning.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I am exhausted just reading this and truly against the idea of going back to that way of (barely) living.

My New Normal

While sheltering at home, my new normal has resulted in more intentional way of life that is revitalizing and introspective. I have prioritized self-care, and have a clearer vision on what matters to me in life.

My new normal is looking a little something like this…

Practicing mindful meditation every morning – a habit I have been trying to incorporate into my daily life and have never been able to until now.

Daily journaling about gratitude, a new learning, a thought distortion I am working through, a new business idea, or simply day dreaming. Another habit I have tried for years to instill in myself, and never could until now.

Eating a real breakfast and enjoying my coffee on my balcony as the morning sun rises over the Houston city skyline. (A concept until now)

Breathing in fresh morning air and hearing the birds chirp in the trees next to my apartment. Seeing people out walking their dogs or going on runs or walking with their early-riser children.

Blocking time for lunch on my calendar and honoring that time for myself to step away from my computer, go for a walk outside and eat lunch on my balcony.

Shutting down work at a normal hour to practice yoga and shift my mindset into the next part of my day.

Cooking dinner with Bill and eating at our dining room table together.

Spending my “free time” in different ways.

Going outside to read or walk in the park. Reading instead of binge-watching TV, writing instead of scrolling through social media.

Baking like I used to do in high school but seemed to “never have the time to do” in my old normal.

Calling and messaging close friends and family who I miss and haven’t had the chance to catch up with in a whole. This time at home has also showed me which relationships I truly care about investing my time and energy into.

This might be a life of social isolation, but it is also a life of peace.

My Future Normal

When businesses re-open their doors and we can safely interact again, there are things in my life from my old normal that I do not plan to bring with me into my future normal.

While certain aspects of my new normal today will change as society is allowed to be social again, there are parts that I plan to carry with me into my future normal.

I will remove the things that take life away from me as much as possible, knowing that sometimes it will require me to do the harder things that will give me life instead.

I will have the courage to ask for a “remote working” agreement with my boss that does not require me to be in the office 5 days a week because my job does not require me to be in the office to be effective.

I will respect my own time and continue to take a break every day to go walk outside and enjoy a work-free lunch.

I will not spend late nights at work in the office. The work will always be there, my youth and life will not.

I will stop drinking and numbing my mind to “relieve stress” and instead do the harder, but healthier thing.

I will allow myself to feel my emotions, acknowledge them without judgement, and then work through them. If I cannot change it, then let it go. If I can change it, then start putting plans and action in place.

I will ask myself, what will make me feel more fulfilled in this moment? Watching TV and scrolling on social media OR calling a friend, writing something new, reading a book, going for a walk, or just simply going to bed early to get more sleep?

I will stop investing time and energy into relationships or activities that do not add joy and aliveness to my life. I will no longer disappoint myself or break promises to myself in order to make other people happy.

As Glennon Doyle says in her new book in Untamed, “Your duty is to disappointment as many people as necessary in order to avoid ever disappointing yourself.”

I am excited for this future normal, filled with more experiences that I choose to participate in and that make me feel alive, instead of deplete my energy.

What things have you been enjoying in your new normal?

What do you plan to take with you into your future normal? What do you plan to leave behind?

Comment below, I would love to hear from you!

XO, Haley

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