No matter what industry or role you’re in, chances are, the last 18 months have required you to master the art of adaptation. Ever-changing COVID rules have required us all to react repeatedly, often very quickly. Momentum in these situations tends to be adrenaline-fuelled, self-propelling and perhaps even addictive.
Then, suddenly (or at least it seems that way), the momentum created by the external pressure to react is gone. Perhaps not entirely, but the pace slows just enough for you to catch your breath. Urgent, overlapping meetings no longer consume your day. You’re only on one call at a time, and your first meeting is at 11 am rather than 7 am.
Your day feels empty, and you wonder, “what should I be doing now?”
It’s a frequent reflection from leaders as they transition from “emergency” situations back into something they describe as “more normal”. I also hear similar sentiments from leaders who have stepped in to fill capacity gaps in their teams. Once the leader has filled the roles, they begin to wonder,
“What is my role?”
I suggest there are three elements needed to rebuild your momentum.
Most people in emergency mode have been working very long hours, which often translates to reduced quantity and quality of sleep, sedentary work patterns with little prospect of exercise and opportunistic eating (“if and when I can — and only what’s easily available”). Try to rest and recharge the batteries by taking a vacation. If that’s not possible, at least try a few consecutive shorter workdays. While in recharge mode, take the opportunity to reflect and design new “rules” for sleep, movement, and nutrition. They’ll be different for everyone — taking the time to plan what’s best for you is the key.
2. Review & Reset
In contrast to Recharge, Review and Reset is designed to focus exclusively on your work. It is the opportunity to ask questions such as:
- Where were we before all this happened?
- How has what’s happened changed our priorities?
- What is the most important thing for me (and my team) to focus on now?
- How do those priorities differ over the short-term vs the long-term?
- How do we measure success (now)?
Knowing the answers to these questions should allow you to build a plan. Depending on your circumstances, it might be for the next month, quarter or even year. At the very least, it should re-establish your direction and provide some structure and clarity for your efforts from week to week.
Without the discipline of daily objective setting, the shift from reactive back to proactive can make each day feel a little untethered. I like to use this 3-question tool each morning to help with that:
a. What MUST I get done today?
b. What would be NICE to get done today?
c. What do I choose to AVOID today?
Reconnect is all about creating opportunities to spend time with your people — internal colleagues, connections across your network, family members and friends. Each relationship forms part of the support structure for your momentum and your success. Now that you’ve got time to breathe, it’s time to consider how to check in with them and reinvest in those critical relationships.
Coming down off the highs of an adrenaline-filled period can feel both exhausting and empty. Acknowledging that and then taking time to rebuild can make all the difference to how well you bounce into your next phase.