The starting gun is about to go off. The sprint is about to begin.
You remember the sprint, right? Before we were confined to our homes and our extracurricular activities got cut off at the knees, we were expert sprinters. Rushing from one thing to the next with great efficiency. Oh, our health sometimes suffered and we were often too dizzy to consider if all the activity was even worth it, but we were good at running the race. It was almost comfortable.
Then the world stopped.
For the first time in a long time, we had time on our hands. Time to spend with family. Time to prepare and eat real meals together. Time to go for walks. Like a scratch on a record, our normal pace was disrupted, and we had the chance to evaluate our lives and be reminded of what was really important.
Now, no matter how well we handled it, the disruption wore on us. A desire to get back to normal was ever-present, as we desperately missed some of the good parts of our old lives. We are ready to be together. To reunite with friends, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, singing the lyrics of our favorite song, or cheering a victory by our favorite team. We are excited to let our kids off the leash, to give them the freedom they’ve had withheld.
“No” has been the directive for so long, we are ready to start saying some big, loud yeses.
Indeed, in many ways, the sprint has already begun.
Restrictions are being lifted and reschedules of postponements are finally coming to fruition.
Our calendars are filling up faster than a starving man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Danger, Will Robinson! Don’t fall into the trap Adultitis has set for you.
We are all so tired. I fear that once the starting gun goes off and the race resumes, we may find ourselves worse off than ever before. Especially if we resume the pace we got so comfortable maintaining when things were “normal.”
This is an opportunity to not return to normal, but to something better. But not if we let all our yeses drown out the lessons we learned from the lockdown.
The key is focus.
Consider this definition from Jony Ive, the famed designer responsible for Apple’s iMac, iPod, and iPhone: “What focus means is saying no to something that with every bone in your body you think is a phenomenal idea and you wake up thinking about it, but you say no to it because you’re focusing on something else.”
If you want to win a race, you can’t run every which way. You have to focus on the finish line. You cannot let yourself be distracted by the other runners, the birds in the sky, or the lure of the hot dog vendor in the stands. In this race called life, decide on the goal. To focus means saying yes to the opportunities that get you closer to that goal, and turning down the ones that don’t.
What is your goal for your life? What really matters? For what or whom do you run?
Use the wisdom you’ve gained during this disruption to guide you in deciding what opportunities are worth saying yes to and which ones will just make you busy.
It’s time to run free. After more than a year of No dominating our lives, we are ready.
Just remember: not everything has to be a yes.