Personal Growth

Who Do You Want to Be?

Who do you want to be June 1?

It was early April, and my own journal entry was staring back at me. I was contemplating my answer amid what has been a tough couple of weeks, coming to grips with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. The short-term effects on my business and the economy at large were painful, and the long-term consequences seemed hard to wrap my mind around. I was on an emotional roller coaster.

I knew this long period of isolation was a necessary measure for public health, but I was also worried about the detrimental impact it would have on people’s mental health. The World Health Organization even released a mental health guide stating the obvious: “This time of crisis is generating stress in the population.” Looking back, I know it certainly affected mine.

Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Knowing that, I decided to put some practices into place to protect my mental health and keep me on track for reaching my goals. At the end of each 90-day cycle, I take stock and commit to another three-month action plan. This has helped me stay sane and accomplish way more than I initially thought possible during a pandemic, which was really the whole point.

Committing to My Routines and Rituals

In moments of crisis, it’s easy to let our most sacred routines and rituals slide. And that’s OK while we hit reset. 

But in the long term, this can be detrimental. Dialing in some of my most sacred routines and rituals has been a real saving grace so far. I can’t binge on Netflix and red wine until 3 a.m., expecting to come out of this a better version of myself. Instead, I dial in my morning routine, exercise daily, and I restored all my pre-pandemic meeting protocols (ie. no meetings or appointments prior to 10am) to make sure that I have plenty of white space for myself.

Asking for Help

I haven’t just been asking for help. In fact, I’ve been doubling down on it. That includes Zoom calls with my personal board of directors, collaboration with other creators and experts, and teletherapy. If you are struggling, don’t go it alone. If you are down the reinvention path, do it with the perspective of people who have traveled that road before you.

Remember, there will be another side of this. And in spite of the incredible adversity, I also believe many people will point to this moment of pause as an inflection point that forced them to confront themselves and commit to change. In the long run, that can be the catalyst for a whole new you.

Visioning the Future

I have accepted and surrendered to the understanding that the world isn’t going back to the way it was before — at least not any time soon.

Neither am I.

So, instead, I’m asking myself: Who do I want to become in this next normal? I believe answering this question requires a moment of pause and a little bit of stillness. But I’m beginning to lock in on my vision of that version of myself.

I’m also looking a bit further into the future to truly consider what matters, what I want and how I can create it. It’s enormously empowering, because I have faith our future is going to be much better than our past. And holding on to that vision of the future in these hard moments helps to keep us going.

Of course, the manifestation of any vision requires action. It’s easier to decide, commit and take action when the destination is clear. Here are 12 of my tactics as I move toward my 90-day vision. Adjust accordingly to your own vision of the future:

My 12 ‘New You’ Tactics

  • Stay hydrated: I’m trying to drink half my body weight in ounces of water every day.
  • Eat right: I fast until lunch. Then I knock out a healthy protein shake and an epic feast for dinner every night.
  • Learn a new hobby: During the first 90 days of quarantine, I worked on my cooking skills — and I’m ready to make you a takeout meal from my home kitchen whenever you’d like! For my next 90-day cycle, I learned to wakesurf. What should I learn next?
  • Take an online course: I started with “The Science of Well-Being.” It’s the most popular course in the history of Yale University, and even though it was free, I would have gladly paid for it. Check it out!
  • Read a good book: My favorite read so far has been Falling Upward by Richrad Rohr. Got any recommendations for my next read?
  • Write a good book: My manuscript is actually finished. Stay tuned.
  • Journal: I like The Five-Minute Journal and the “Morning Pages,” an exercise that is part of The Artist’s Way. If you’re looking for more journaling prompts to guide your practice during this time, I’ve created a few that you might find helpful.
  • Exercise: I exercise daily for one hour under the guidance of my trainer. It’s my sacred hour.
  • Zoom for business: I have no idea why we weren’t doing this more often. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the old ways.
  • Zoom with family: Thursday night, we are having our first-ever virtual Estis family dinner over Zoom. I miss my family and cannot wait to see them online.
  • FaceTime old friends: The calls, outreach and check-ins have meant the world to me during this time. But I know I could be doing more of that, too.
  • Get into nature: I try to take a daily walk down by the Mississippi River across the Stone Arch Bridge. I usually listen to a podcast, and it just feels good to get outside. Thank God it’s April and not January!
  • Take a cold shower: I know the health benefits, but this one is still a struggle for me. So I am going to commit since I’m sharing it here.
  • Breathe deeply: A few deep breaths with my eyes closed and hands over my heart is a centering technique I can call on at any time if I start feeling overwhelmed amid the chaos. I am learning about and doing more breathwork during this time, and it’s powerful and restorative.
  • Meditate: I use Headspace, and I also love Joe Dispenza’s morning and evening meditations, which include visioning, as well. They’re a solid part of my routine.
  • Limit the news: It’s important to stay informed, but don’t let yourself get lost in the matrix of media hysteria. Nobody needs to watch Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon back-to-back-to-back like I did last night.
  • Chill: Enjoy time with family and friends. Do less. Simplify. Embrace the solitude and stillness. Watch Netflix — but not too much. There is something beautiful about not having anything to do right now. It’s helping me get a bit better at learning how to just be.

Finally, remember to be patient. Aim for just a bit of progress over perfection.

Perhaps it’s useful to borrow a bit of ancient wisdom for hard times. Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens during the early 3rd century B.C. The Stoics welcomed hard times. They saw their lives as training for moments such as the one we are in now, where character, resilience and courage are tested. Stoic philosopher Epictetus said something that perfectly encapsulates the moment we are going through: “The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.”

Whatever challenges you’re facing, there will be another side to it. I cannot wait to see you there. 

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