Optimism feels palpable for the first time. Give yourself permission to look ahead, writes Niamh Ennis
We are all feeling a little flat these past few weeks aren’t we? We’re trying really hard to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and yet somehow it feels like a bigger effort than ever before. It’s been drawing on our resources in way that feels unsustainable.
I know that, for me, the end of this year feels like a powerful magnet that’s pulling me steadily towards it. Honestly I’m not sure I’d make it over the line without it. Mentally, emotionally and physically I’m crawling to the end of the year and not too many people are sprinting past me.
These last twelve months have been hard for us all and that's not helped by that fact that we have no guarantees that the next twelve will be much better. The hardest part has been the lack of punctuation in our lives. Since March, each month has melted into the other while the pandemic dominated everything else. When I think about what was missing most from our lives this past year, it’s this…the lack of breaking down time into a before and an after.
“Before I went on holidays, before we marked Mum’s roundy birthday with that surprise party, the night after your wedding, the weekend of her hen, seeing your newborn, those few days at the festival, the night we all went into town and forgot to come home, sitting with you while you were grieving, the relaxing sun holiday, the busy city break, the burning the candle at both ends skiing trip, the family get togethers.”
All of these relegated to memories from 2019 because no new ones were created this year. That list felt poignant to write, it actually felt heavy, and yet I know that for each example cited, it will resonate with someone reading it, because that will have been their reality.
For all the positivity that we are desperately trying so hard to create, this is our truth now. We have lost the best part of a year and within that time we have lost access to the good and also the bad memories we would have created in that time. That’s why we are feeling so flat right now. It’s also why we all feel so tired and so drained and understandably so. But more than that, what normally gives us life, or at least oxygen to live, is always in the looking forward. Being able to project our thoughts into the future, drawing on our imaginations and relying on our past experiences we find the excitement in mapping out in our heads and minds what is up ahead, and what we have to look forward to.
This is exactly what I’m suggesting you should do next. Find whatever you can that, will in some way, propel you into the future. Ask yourself what can you start to do now that will push your mind to that place down the line, a place that is full of new possibilities and opportunities, a place that is not here. While you accept that the pandemic has taken away the memories you didn’t get to create, you don’t have to let it take away your future plans for when your life regains some kind of familiar structure.
When you focus on the past, on what you didn’t get to do, or on what you wish you had done differently, you continue to hand over the power and negative influence that this time has had on your life. By dwelling on it, looking back on it and lamenting it, you simply prolong it.
It’s time to give yourself permission to look ahead. You don’t need to get too hung up on the dates and timings of when this will happen, you can just trust that it will, but you can indulge yourself in the practice of looking forward by plotting, preparing and planning what you are going to do when that day comes around.
Which it will.
Where hope exists
Whether you want to frame this as positive thinking or simply shaking yourself out of that space you’re in right now, I’d like you to think of this, as you, simply getting greater clarity on what’s up ahead for you. Look on it as if you are simply cleaning your glasses to allow you to see much better.
Have fun with the planning and don’t let yourself get bogged down by details such as if this is practical, possible or affordable. Just start planning and the more of it you do, the more your mind will move to that place where it all starts to feel possible again. Where hope exists.
We know for sure that things as they are now will not last forever. Nothing ever does.
We are looking ahead now, with our newly cleansed glasses on our nose, and enjoying plotting and planning the places we are going to go, the people we are going to enjoy seeing again, the experiences we will never take for granted again. We will step into this next year armed with hope and trusting that this year we will revert back to creating memories. And so the cycle continues.
The timely outcome from America’s Presidential election last weekend may just well be the exact turning point to all of this that we all needed so badly. Optimism feels palpable for the first time. Kamala Harris and Joe Harris have so beautifully provided us with that.
Punctuation has returned.
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation Specialist and Founder of The RESET for Change 3 Month 1:1 Private Coaching Programme. Niamh works with women who feel stuck, who want to change but just don’t know where to start. She reconnects them with their sense of self-belief, courage and confidence. To work with Niamh on your own bespoke Private Coaching Programme for 2021 visit niamhennis.com