Declaring A New Future
As our lives jolt forward from this time of COVID, how we emerge from our weeks of lockdown matters. What has this time afforded you? Time to reflect? Time to rest? Time to prepare? Time to re-invent? Time to question? Time to reconnect with family, friends and acquaintances?
For us, our questions have been both practical and existential in nature. We find ourselves emerging differently from this time. Perplexed at the life we’d been living before COVID, somewhat unconsciously.
The question we arrived at was this: “Was the life we were living pre-COVID worthy of restoring”?
This question required us to tease our pre-COVID life apart and engage in the questions of “what makes our lives meaningful?”, “What meaning do we wish to bring to the next 10 years of our living?” and “What can we leave behind?”
With these questions, we begin to craft our lives. To consciously choose to let go of patterns of thinking and behaving that no longer serve us and to adopt new practices and new pursuits in a way that inspires us to pick up from now and create a future that holds more meaning.
What is it that you can choose to let go of?
For us, letting go relates to the habits of over-working, under-exercising and filling our days with busy-ness. Instead, we are choosing to make space for reflection, activity, whole foods, rich conversations, and learning the art of a respectful decline to make the space we need – for us!
Choices like these begin with reflection, and time to discern what stays and what goes. Once we determine what we want to generate and what we’re leaving behind, we make a declaration to move us forward.
A declaration is a stand we take about ‘what will be’ and how we will be from a point in time – let’s call that post COVID. This statement of future intent and the way we express it has a profound impact on our future. Particularly if we REALLY mean it, we share it (and create social accountability for it) and we begin living it (showing up as congruent, owning every facet of the declaration we make).
We can all declare new futures for ourselves:
- “We declare we will limit working hours to 50 per week.”
- “We declare we will exercise 3-4 times every week.”
- “We will make key decisions about the business we operate by 1 July 2020.”
- “We declare to invest in our study until January 2021.”
We all have the authority to make declarations about how we want our lives to be – our careers, relationships, extracurricular pursuits and our wellbeing. In declaring how we want our lives to be we can begin to take care of some of our concerns.
Concerns may have arisen for you in this time of COVID. These might be temporal, like how you pay bills, maintain cash flow, manage social distancing or keep your elderly parents out of harms way. They might be more existential, like “what does my life mean?”, prompted by the shake-up you’ve experienced in work and life.
In our case, our concerns are to be a contribution for the emerging future, to equip and enable leaders to converse meaningfully and in a way that takes care of the ‘whole’ and to find a balance between how we take care of others and ourselves.
We are choosing a new version of the way we would like to show up in leadership and life, and we are now already thinking and behaving in a way aligned with this new identity. Fitter, stronger, rested, mindful, open.
It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we generate our lives. That is, in the context of the world we live, we have choices we can make that shape the experience we create for ourselves and others within the social, historical and physical spaces we occupy.
We are reminded that we are in charge of a guiding narrative that we invest in every day. We get to choose a meaningful life and we get to shape our decades. Our narrative becomes something we can shape and alter. It is the genesis of the lives we live and the life we create next.
This shaping is not independent of the events life throws our way. We have come to know these as contingencies. This year alone, bushfires and COVID emerge as contingencies that we have no control over, but which continue to shape our experience of life.
The power here lies in acceptance of that which we cannot change and the capacity to move on with hope and with a sense of possibility emerging in the future. This capacity to deal with emergent and unforeseeable events is the capacity we need to cultivate as leaders in our shared future. Shifting out of resistance and resentment towards acceptance. The capacity to relentlessly identify possibilities inside circumstances that may seem bleak. The capacity to deal with the provocations we experience and still find peace within.
These moves we describe begin with a declaration and require ongoing cultivation. Vigilance around our narrative and attentive to the moods we find ourselves in. Creating and cultivating space for reflection, conversation and helpful questions that have us engage in the game of living at a level of consciousness that has us experience ourselves as worthy, awake and ‘in the game’.
This time of COVID has us in an extraordinary time; a new time; an unknown time.
We find ourselves in more questions than answers and we learn to be in the fundamental groundlessness as a place we can dwell. We are not anxious to move. Around some things we have made a declaration ‘not to make a declaration’. We are mindful observers and we are finding the more we observe, the more possibilities become visible. We find ourselves in new questions this week – and they will probably be different again next week:
- What voices should we pay attention to now?
- What lessons can history teach us to help us navigate a pandemic time?
- What mix of insights, reading and inspiration will help us explore these times?
- How can we be with other voices that are contrary to our established world view?
- How are we generating our current reality, and can we change that?
- Who is the ‘we’ and what role can ‘I’ play in shaping the we?
- How can we cultivate serenity in this time?
- Who can we be in conversation with to broaden a perspective?
- How do we want to ‘show up’ as an offer in this time?
- What can we anticipate for the future to guide better decisions now?
What questions do you find yourself in? And what moods do your questions provoke? What would it take for you to explore your question landscape and how can you find serenity in this time of disruption?
If our questions help, we invite you to try them on, as a way to generate new perspectives, new narratives and a new way forward. Your way will be unique. We invite you to identify declarations that move you towards the life that calls you forth. It need not change the world. It might be as simple as ‘staying present and device free for a couple of hours per day’ – this in itself will invent new possibilities.
From our reflective space to yours, stay well, stay open to emerging possibilities.