My goal for 2021 is not to get too much sand in my broeks
As the high tide of new year ushers in smarter ways of working, the trick is to learn to roll with the waves.
As the high tide of new year ushers in smarter ways of working, the trick is to learn to roll with the waves
It feels like just yesterday that I was mapping and setting my goals for 2020. It was going to be great. Twenty-Plenty. A strong contender for best year yet.
By February, some of my personal goals started showing tiny green shoots of promise. And just when I was about to reach the point where most personal goals fall by the wayside, March 2020 happened.
When people ask about my 2021 goals, I laugh maniacally. Who in their right mind would dare to map out 2021 after a year like 2020? My only goal for 2021 is not to freak out, or at least not before 8 am. Because that way lies madness.
Before the pandemic, like so many others in the vast ocean of corporate South Africa, I would spend my mornings trying to ride the waves and not get wiped out.
Get woken by alarm, snooze, snooze again, run to the shower, run to the fridge to find lunch, run for my train with my 2nd coffee of the day. And then, after all that rushing, one or two hours of nothingness on the rails.
Then came Covid-19 and things changed overnight.At first the directive was to work from home for the next few weeks, and let’s see how things go.
Now instead of one or two hours of nothingness on the train, my mornings would run like this: be startled awake at 4 am, open the Corona dashboard and obsess about the number of positive cases, go numb, and stumble to my desk to see what the business “pivoting” means for me today.
The workload came in waves. Some you could just about manage. Others knocked you upside-down and spat you out with a nice big lump of sand in your broeks. (Who decided to leave the gusset on a swimming costume open on the one side?)
We had monthly virtual motivational sessions, and one that really resonated was led by a business coach who specialises in mindful leadership and healthy resilience.
To cope with the upheaval of the pandemic, he recommended a clear switch from home to work and work to home.
He reminded us that before Covid-19, we commuted commuting and transitioned between home and work. We had time to empty our minds and brief ourselves for the day ahead. Now we don’t. It’s straight from bed to workstation for many, including me.
After a restless night, I wake at 4 and overthink. Did I sanitise the left corner of that trolley? Did I leave my son’s school bag in the sun for long enough yesterday? Where did I put the used masks I left in the car?
Before I know it, I’m hunched over my laptop, like a T-Rex, furiously typing away. Then come up for breakfast sometime and a shower in between virtual meetings.
Resilience can be exhausting, the business coach said. We need to slow down and make space to be vulnerable. Being strong and resilient all the time is unsustainable. He was talking to a part of me that was obviously broken.
I’m lucky to live near the sea. I love early morning swims on weekends and holidays. I decided to make my “morning commute” a dip in the ocean or tidal pool. For my afternoon commute, I potter in the garden.
What a fabulous change it has been. Instead of hours of nothingness on the train, I now spend 30 to 45 minutes bobbing in the ocean and clearing my mind. The early morning swims are special.
On any given day, there are 10 to 15 people in the water. The unspoken rule is, we greet and talk on the shore and once in the water, your individual ritual takes over.
My ritual is bobbing until my body is used to the temperature, then diving under the waves, trying to spot landmarks across the bay while catching my breath.
No fretting and obsessing. Just being in the water and relying on muscle memory while my brain does absolutely nothing.
I’ve been trying this routine for a few weeks. While the work waves have not slowed down, I’m in a better mental space and am sleeping better.
Setting boundaries and having a new routine has been great. There have been big waves at work and home, but none that churned me out and left me with sand in my broeks. That’s all the win I need now.