As challenging as the past year has been for everybody, the pandemic has brought about many good things for many people.
Take me, for example. Since the lockdowns began last year, I finally afforded myself the opportunity to manage my work/life balance, and I am so grateful. Yes, I was forced to do it. No, I wasn’t initially happy about it. But, in truth, I didn’t really see a problem until the break was forced.
But what I learned almost immediately is that life is so much more enjoyable when you take the pressure off.
Work, Work, Work. Is This Living?
Pre-COVID, I was a typical small business owner, always thinking about work—working at growing the business, making more money, constantly checking emails, and so on. I found myself hoping my kids would go to bed early so I could catch up on something. I hustled. I said “yes” to everything that was presented to me. I put most of my time and attention towards work, and although I was constantly on the go, I always felt like I could do better.
It is terrible to feel that no matter how hard you work and how much you hustle would never be good enough. This is not chasing a dream—this is society telling us that we need to constantly strive to do better, that we can always do more, and that the effort we put in is directly connected to our self-worth.
Hitting the Pandemic Pause Button
Sometime in March 2020,the pandemic forced us all to pause. I shut down my matchmaking company for eight weeks. I think we all believed it would be over by then and that life would return to normal. There wasn’t anything anyone could do.
During this time, I reconnected with myself, my husband, and my kids. The break was much-needed, but I didn’t realise it until that two months was almost over.
Here’s what happened:
I started to have all the feels again. I started to recognise that the way I was living my life was not fulfilling me—not one bit! What actually felt good was embracing my personal relationships, being in nature, and all the small things and moments in life we take for granted.
For me, it was a game-changer. I even debated getting out of the matchmaking business altogether, but the universe has a way of showing us things just when we need to see them.
Not long after the first lockdown, I received a celebratory email from a client who had proposed to a woman that we introduced him to the year before. Then, I got an email from a client who, pre-pandemic, had been incredibly difficult to work with, but this email was like breathing a fresh breath of air. Her tone was delightful. Her words were kind and gentle. She, too, had taken a pause and felt like a new life was in front of her.
These occurrences fueled me, all of them.
In an instant, I understood that my life’s perspective can change and that I can still do things that I love while being conscious that I am still making time for all that fuels me. I am in control of my day. I have license over my choices. I can say “yes” or “no” to what’s presented to me and gave myself permission to do so.
I don’t need to run my business in a way I believe society wants. I can take on fewer clients, run a better business, be more involved, and have hard cut-off times to delineate when I am and am not working.
Being present is what I needed—being present with my family and my time. I could still give attention to all that fuels me, but with a newfound balance that now forms the basis of my everyday life.
I know the pandemic has been terrible for many. I feel the pain and empathize with others when I read about death, loss, and illness in the news or on my social media feed. I feel it, hard. And I feel so fortunate for all my gifts, knowing that they could all be taken away in an instant.
I learned from the pandemic what I needed to do to live a more fulfilling life, and it wasn’t as challenging or complicated as you might think. In fact, there’s never been anything simpler. For that, I will be forever grateful.