Kate Forrest March 18 2020

Adapting to our new world

In this final blog from Kate Forrest,

This last instalment of life musings whilst on a big drive is proving to be the hardest to write.  As many of us are adjusting to a new, strange normal for the foreseeable future – distancing ourselves from others, changing our ways of working, stockpiling loo roll and limiting our movement around our cities and the world – I’ve been trying to work out what is worthwhile talking about in this space.

All of the topics covered in my previous posts are going to be relevant in their application for our changing circumstances and the environments in which we will be living and working in the coming days, week and months.  Navigating ambiguity and finding those things that we can control so we can anchor ourselves, sitting outside of our comfort zones and needing to learn and adapt quickly, seeking little wins, asking for help and extending the hand of kindness to others. 

And yet… sitting at home, thinking about this time that is coming, I am struck most about the potential impact on mental health and well-being, motivation and resilience levels as we all try to adapt to our changing environment. 

Writing these blogs has helped me to articulate after the fact a range of concerns I had about the trip that were abstract and somewhat meaningless to those around me, as we weren’t having a shared experience.  I also had a definitive timeframe in which we were operating, and a number of pre-planned exit strategies.

This is a very different kettle of fish.

There’s so much to potentially worry about that is out of our control – and an unhealthy obsession with live news feeds does not help – it can feel very overwhelming. 

Once the initial rush of adrenaline and novelty of change has worn off, we’ll all be trying to navigate this different life.  We are all being tasked with making big behavioural changes that will require real discipline to stick to.

In our workspace, where people have been moved out of offices to homes, staying connected to others and a sense of routine will be vital.  If there was ever a time to carve out some more regular one to one time with your team members – this is it! 

Leaders of teams will play a key role in keeping people communicating with each other – providing a space not only to talk shop but more importantly to check in that people are okay, engage in some super listening and share practical coping strategies with each other.

Tapping into what we know about how we build and maintain our own resilience and ensuring that we are creatively adapting our routines to accommodate resilience boosting activities will also be important.

In this time of change, we are going to learn a lot about ourselves.  We will be challenged and tested.  Some of it will feel uncomfortable and difficult.  Some of it may fundamentally change our way of operating in the world.  And at some stage, it too shall pass.  Your reflections and experiences will stay with you for months and years to come and they will add to the narrative of your life, broadening your perspectives again.

And so, it is deeply ironic that in this new world that is temporarily limiting this type of travel, that is my biggest takeaway from the many thousands of miles and hundreds of hours on the road.

May you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe during this time.

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