“Scattered.” That’s how one of my favorite leaders replied when I asked her last week to summarize how she’s doing in one word.

I don’t blame her. I feel pretty jumbled up myself most days. It’s no wonder when you reflect on how the world has turned upside down over the past month. We’re not in our offices. Our kids are home. We have one eye on our temperature and the other on our email. It’s a lot.

Among the biggest disruptions we’ve all experienced is an upheaval in our habits. Humans are invariably creatures of habit, patterns we use to simplify our lives and to bring order to the chaos.

Many of those habits were thrown out the window a few weeks ago.

  • You used to commute, and now the office is in your living room. You no longer have that time to decompress or catch up on podcasts.
  • You used to work in close proximity with other people, to run into others in the hall. You no longer have those moments to catch up, to ask a quick question, to grab a little energy from interaction with others.
  • You used to have a ritual of buying a comforting cup of coffee. You no longer have that tiny moment of caffeinated celebration served by your favorite barista.

I know these losses pale in comparison to the real hardships facing so many in our world now, either because of COVID-19 or due to conditions far more enduring than the virus. But a loss of patterns makes us all feel scattered. Their loss makes us more susceptible to a brain hijack.

Yet, this situation also provides an opportunity. Our habits have been scrambled, thrown off the table like jigsaw puzzle pieces. We get to rethink our habits just like we get to rethink our thinking. We get to reassemble the puzzle in new ways, maybe even in better ways to become who we were created to be.

If you’re feeling scattered, note the habits you’ve lost. Give yourself permission to mourn them for a minute or two.

Then get ready. We have work to do. We have new patterns to create. It’s a crucial part of our most important job, the job of managing ourselves through this crisis.

Be Bright