What Is The Reopening Plan For Your Life?

Posted by Devin Riley

What Is The Reopening Plan For Your Life?

 By Jones Loflin

Helping With The Struggle Of Too Much To Do

“Under what conditions or safeguards would you feel comfortable going to the dentist?” I asked my friend. He had been putting off his appointment for three months due to the Coronavirus. His response was, “I don’t know.”

My friend is not alone in his plight. While “sheltering in place” has not been pleasant, it had become our new world. We made adjustments in our work, learned to juggle roles differently while at home, and tried to find some sense of normalcy. And just as we were getting comfortable with this different routine, we have a new elephant in our lives… finding a way forward in our work and lives while doing our best not to contract the virus from our interactions with others. A BIG elephant indeed.

You know that you cannot put your life on hold while you wait for the certainty of a vaccine that may be two years away. But what can you do to ensure that you’re doing your best to balance progress and protection, fear and faith, or stability and change? As I wrestle with these same complexities in my own life and seek to learn from those much wiser than me, here are six principles I believe need to be part of anyone’s personal “reopening plan:”

Slow Down.
More than anything, I can’t return to a pace of activity in my day that causes me to be careless in my basic choices. From gathering with friends to boarding a plane, I have to take the time to stop and think about what I’m doing. It sounds so simple, but I know myself. When I feel rushed or have lots to do, I tend to be less cautious. As much as possible, I’ve got to slow the moment down so I can make better choices.

Remember your driver’s education training.
While my instructor, Mr. Sink, had an interesting personality and those 16mm films (not videos) of car accidents did get my attention, I’m actually referring to the idea of “defensive driving.” You proactively look for potential hazards so you can be prepared for address them before an accident happens. I don’t assume someone else has the same level of caution about face to face interaction as me.

Be okay with perspectives that are different than yours.
I don’t know about you, but I have people at both ends of the ideological spectrum in my life. I have one friend who still claims that the whole pandemic is a government conspiracy while having another friend who swears they won’t ever eat at a restaurant again. You’re probably encountering these same differences in perspective in coworkers. As we move back to more face to face interactions, working together could be more mentally and emotionally draining than ever. It’s always been my goal to respect people’s perspectives, and at the same time, move forward as a team, organization, or even a family. How do we achieve the right balance? I think it includes:

  • Listening at Level 3. Focusing on the person and not trying to fix their perspective. Being fully present.
  • Asking more and telling less. I love one of the thoughts from Leadership Is Language where the author talks about turning “teaching moments” into “learning moments.” Taking the time to learn more about why a person has a certain perspective versus trying to convince them I am right. Once I better understand their perspective, I can ask a question similar to what I asked my dentist-evading friend: “Under what conditions could you move forward? or “How can I help?”
  • Keeping control of my emotions. Emotion is a powerful force, but can be misused, especially in relationships. When I am feeling a rush of emotion (positive or negative) in these sometimes tense situations, I need to pause and ask myself, “Will the expression of this emotion or even an emotional story help this person or team move forward, or am I just sharing it to make myself feel better?” If you want some great insights on how to best manage your emotions in the workplace right now, check out the Coaching For Leaders podcast episode 468

Create benchmarks that give you the information you need to take the next step… or not.
In my state, the governor has determined certain benchmarks that must be met for a next phase in reopening. I think that’s key to any personal plan to reenter your workplace or community. Just saying to yourself, “When it’s safe” isn’t specific enough. What does safe look like? Do you have the resources and information needed to create that safe environment? If you’re a leader or manager of people returning to a physical workspace, it’s imperative that you work on creating these benchmarks now so your team can more fully focus on the work to be done when they return.

Allow yourself to make imperfect progress.
I think I hear myself say this in almost every presentation I’m giving these days, but it bears repeating again… be okay with things not going smoothly. This is new territory for everyone and mistakes will be made. Allow yourself, your team, or even your family to slow down enough (see first tip in this article) to talk about what went right and what steps you could take to improve in the future.

Communicate more frequently with less information.
This pandemic is far from over. Information changes almost daily on the virus. There is no “one size fits all” plan for returning to work or reopening our communities. With all this uncertainty, our ability to remain focused on work is going to be diminished. Long emails and/or meetings will be even less effective than they have been in the past. I like what I someone said the other day: “We are addressing this pandemic like a sprint when it’s really a marathon.” We need to better pace ourselves with how we are sharing information, making sure we aren’t giving people another source of overload.

As I offer these thoughts to you, please know that I don’t begin to believe I have it all figured out. What I do know is that I need to have a plan to move forward. Each day I set aside time to work on it, whether it’s how I move forward with my business, help my family move forward, or how I continue my own personal growth in these uncharted waters.

What’s your plan to reopen your life?


Jones Loflin is a global keynote speaker on innovative yet practical solutions to help with the struggle of too much to do so people can live their lives more on purpose. He is the author of several books, including Always Growing and the award-winning, Juggling Elephants. 


Posted by Devin Riley

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