Here is a shocking observation:
The pandemic lockdown began in March of 2020. As of today, the two leading vaccine candidates from Pfizer and Moderna are requesting FDA approval for emergency use, then a fast track approval for distribution. These should become available in Q1, then be more widely distributed in Q2 and Q3. Best estimates for any form of herd immunity is later next year. Expectations are for life to begin to return to normal — meaning, going to back to work, mask-less social interactions, commuting, public events, etc. — are for sometime around June 2021.
From the March 2020 lockdown to a June 2021 re-opening is a 16-month span. The halfway mark? It’s today.
Imagine someone came to you and said the following: You will be locked up at home with only a limited ability to travel locally for 6 month to a year. You can do whatever you want over that period. What would you want the results of that soft incarceration to be?
This has been front of mind, lately. I bet most people have lots of things they wish they could pursue but lack the time or focus under normal circumstances to do so. As terrible as 2020 has been — and make no doubt about it, 2020 has been a terrible, anxious, death-filled year — it has also presented us with a rare opportunity.
I bring this up because this midpoint creates a chance to think about our own habits, goals, experiences, and deodamnatus, even our lives, and what we want to accomplish with them. The recognition of this should spur you to think about how fruitfully (or not) you choose to spend your time.
One of the hallmarks of good planning is the ability to project yourself forward in time, and imagine what your life will be like in the future. Then imagine yourself looking backwards from the future to today: What will you be happy then that you are doing now?
Here is how I am hoping to spend my extra free lockdown time:
-My next book has been making noises in my head — thats a good sign — and I want to try to get it down on paper faster;
-What sort of effort do you make on improving your most important relationship? If anyone is worth spending effort upon, isn’t it the person you are with 24/7?
-An Astrophysics class in college piqued my interest and I regret not pursuing it further. Online videos have been tremendous and are fulfilling that wish;
-My colleagues at RWM donated a nice chunk of cash (with an RWM match) to numerous food banks this year; I would like to explore how we can have an even greater impact in our local communities in 2021;
-Despite being a long distance runner, I never developed good exercise habits once work began as an adult. Now that summer is over, it is time to start rowing, running, biking indoors.
-My library of unread books keeps growing each week. Without my commute, my long reading has fallen. I would like to fix that.
-I love to cook, but aside from a Chinese class long ago, I never pursued it. It would be fun to become a more accomplished chef.
-My wife is an accomplished artist and painter and has invited me to join her. It would be fun to make my own Rothko’s and Pollack’s (much harder than you imagine)
Note all of this is aside from my professional life — work, podcasts, columns, etc. The regular schedule of those jobs have been a lifesaver, creating order out of chaos. It always can be improved, but that is an entirely separate conversation.
Ultimately, we are judged by the challenges we each face, and how we rise to those occasions. No one asked for this pandemic, but it can be used as an excuse to develop new habits, to do the things you might not would have had the chance to do without this externality. Do your best to prevent 2020 from being an annus horribilis.
Think about what how unique this situation is, how rare an opportunity it presents for you — and then go take full advantage of it. What do you want this period to have meant to you? Do not lead a life full of regrets and unrequited interests…
What do you want to do with the next 8 months of your life?