As April comes to a close, I wanted to share one of the ways that you can finish this month with a renewed focus and a strong mindset and help create structure and accountability.
It may seem silly and even a bit juvenile, but I have been advising my productivity clients to do this exercise during times of change and the results have been incredible. A few of my C-suite clients have even advised their employees to follow suit.
I have been using this exercise for years, it is one of the main reasons I survived the darkest times of my life. I have never given it a name, but given the state of the world, I am calling this particular exercise, The Covid Chrysalis.
The Covid pandemic has brought forth a world I have never experienced, much like most of you. This uncharted territory is bringing new challenges and blessings, but much like weeds that choke out flowers, these new challenges prevent us from seeing and experiencing the blessings in and around us, as well as what lies below the surface, yet to be seen.
So, how do we pull those weeds and let the flowers flourish?
We tell our story.
A few years ago, I was hired as a productivity consultant advising my very first CEO. When I asked him to perform this exercise, he laughed. I almost died, I thought he was laughing at me, a woman 30 years his junior, with no knowledge of how to run a multi-million dollar business. But, he was not laughing at me, he was laughing at the simplicity of it. In all his years of working with consultants, no one had ever asked him something so unpretentious. It was a humbling moment, one that helped me develop one of my favorite tools.
As a lover of language and creating beauty through words, writing has always come naturally for me - but I quickly learned that not everyone shares my love for words.
Before we begin, the most important question you must answer is not what your story will be, but how you will tell it, and I implore you to step outside of your comfort zone.
You can do this exercise with a pen and paper, you can write an email to yourself, you can save it in a document on your computer, you can record a voice memo on your phone or record a video, you can write a song, and if you are skilled enough, you can draw or paint it.
It doesn’t matter how, as long as you transform your thoughts into a story.
When you are ready to begin, here are the four components;
You may be thinking, that’s pretty broad. Sure is - but we aren’t talking about your entire life, we are talking about a specific period of time.
So, your Covid Chrysalis might look something like this:
How you transform it is up to you, and what you discover is also up to you.
This is your chance to give voice to your truths and your fears and give wings to your dreams.
Here is mine;
1. What do I know?
I know that I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed with all the changes happening. I am feeling scared for my family, angry at my husband for no real reasons and resentful of my children. I know that my life feels completely and utterly out of control and the uncertainty of what is to come is terrifying. I know that I am a writer, a coach, a wife, a mother and a friend. I know that people care about me even if I can’t talk to them or see them as often as I’d like. I know that I am not giving myself as much love and nourishment as I deserve, because I am letting other feelings and tools step in and fill me up. I know that I am the best person for my family, and I know that I can continue to grow even in the midst of this madness.
2. What don’t I know?
I don’t know if I will ever be allowed to go to a park or a non-essential store again. I don’t know what will happen to the economy, and I don’t know if my friends and family will be okay. I don’t know how this will impact my children or my community in the long run. I don’t know what mandates are on the horizon or if the people in charge really have humanity or money at the forefront of their agendas. I don’t know if my writing will flourish, I don’t know if I will advance in ways that will help my family in hard times. I don’t know what great message will come from all of this.
3. Who am I today?
I am overwhelmed. My feelings don’t define me, but I am still overwhelmed and feel like a failure every single day. I am an overachiever who puts too much on her plate, and often achieves less than I hope to because of it. When I get overwhelmed, I shut down - and even though I know this about myself, I still do it for some reason. I am smart and capable of learning new skills and trades, and sometimes start new ventures because I lose momentum or purpose of a previous project. I am talented and kind, I am more kind to strangers than my own children at times. I am willing to help out others often knowing the help will come at a price of freedom from my own responsibilities. I am a good person, a child of God and empathetic, I am hard on myself and my family and I am not as willing to change as I always thought.
4. Who do I hope to become?
I hope that I can be more vulnerable in my role as a mother and wife. I want to be happier, less worried and stressed out, more kind and compassionate towards my family and myself. I hope to become more patient. I hope to be more optimistic about what will come next. I hope to learn as much as I can about things that interest me, and continue to grow in areas I have neglected. I hope to one day be able to say that I am always choosing the most nourishing ways to fulfill the wellness of my mind, body, and soul. I hope that my husband and my children are proud of me, and I hope that I one day can say with complete conviction that I don’t care what people think about me. I hope that before I expire, I will feel fulfilled and that I left no gift that God gave me unused.
I am not sure how someone can draw what I have expressed in words - because my creativity blooms in other ways. But - these simple questions provoke some powerful thoughts and the more honest we are in our answers, the more can discover and grow.
Asking questions changes behavior. It is a phenomenon known as the “mere measurement effect.” When we measure or question our intentions, our behavior changes. This psychological tool is more powerful than it gets credit for, because who we are is revealed while who we become is up to us.
If you feel comfortable sharing, I would love to see your Covid Chrysalis - however you create it. You can comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Remember - pulling back the curtain of our lives isn’t always easy, but “you have the power to change your thoughts, and your thoughts have the power to change your life.”
- Ron Willingham
**I wasn't originally going to add the below song, but as I read and edit my blog, THIS song is the one that plays on repeat in my mind, and I want you to love it as much as I do!**