In June 2020, a mere three months after the pandemic made the earth stand still, the World Economic Forum had an idea. This organization thought that rather than allowing COVID-19 to break us and our economic markets, we should act swiftly and jointly to cooperatively achieve what it called, “The Great Reset.”
At the time, their idea was admirable, and frankly, heroic. In those early months of the pandemic, most of us woke up wondering what calamity would befall us next. It was becoming clear that the pandemic’s end was nowhere in sight and we were still six months away from life-saving vaccines being available to the public.
We were scared. We wanted to make it stop. We wanted to preserve our way of life. So a reset sounded like a pretty good idea, and in some respects, it was. But it didn’t take long for companies, organizations, and governments to hop on the reset bandwagon, doing their best to look to the future without remembering what happened in the past.
Throughout the last two years, I’ve heard the word “reset” more times than I can count. Before the pandemic, I thought only electronics were capable of a reset. Now we’re being told that getting back to normal is as simple as pushing the world’s tiniest button with a straightened paper clip?
No disrespect to the World Economic Forum and the great work they do, but I’m not buying it.
I understand we all want to get back to normal—I want to get back to normal, too. But should normal in November 2022 look the same as normal in November 2019? I don’t think so.
Nothing is normal
Let’s talk about the word normal. What is normal? Does anyone really know? Normal could be defined as a generally accepted set of typical behaviors, outcomes, and expectations. But that’s a little too black and white, right?
The concept of normal is frustrating because normal is a farce. People are in such a hurry to get back to the way things were before the pandemic; why are they so obsessed with the past?
There’s never been another time in history when we’ve been so preoccupied by going backward instead of being excited about the positive ways life will change moving forward.
Compare the way the world looks now with the way it looked when your parents were your age. What was normal for your parents then isn’t normal for you now. So, do you want to go back to your parents’ version of normal? Probably not. Because who wants to live in the past?
Granted, there are several decades of innovation, development, and world history between the here and now and when your parents were your age. When it comes to the pandemic, we’re only talking about three years’ time.
When you’re desperate to hit that reset button to return to the past, you’re inferring that the only way to be is the way we were, and nothing could be farther from the truth.
We’re not the same
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s our incredible ability to adapt and change. We learned that we could be different, live different, and act different because we had to.
Some of the changes we had to make, like physically distancing ourselves from the people we loved, were hard and reminded us of what’s important in life. Social distancing helped us learn how to live better in the future, prioritizing quality, life-giving time with family and friends.
Other changes, like working from home instead of an office, have actually stuck in many cases. It’s given many people more opportunities to be with their family, but working from a home office has also made it more challenging to have boundaries between your work and personal life.
The changes we made since March 2020—both the good and the bad—have taught us something about the way we want to live in 2022 and beyond.
The pandemic changed us, and in many ways, for the better. We’re more self-aware and in tune with what we want. We’re more willing to make boundaries to protect our health and the health of others’ around us. We’re more motivated to pursue what makes us happy and gives us purpose. We’re more understanding when our neighbors’ definition of normal isn’t the same as our own.
Change is good
These alterations to our perspective and the way we live is good. But much like boundaries, change can be wrongly perceived as negative.
Every day on planet earth is unique, no two days are the same. People are born and die, markets rise and fall, teams win and lose. Up until the pandemic, taking each day and using the lessons to make the next day better was considered pretty normal.
Now, rather than honoring what we learned during the pandemic, we’re dead set on hitting that reset button, rewinding the last 30 months, and pretending it never happened.
I can’t do it. I can’t unlearn the last 30 months, and I don’t want to. I’m a different person today than I was at the beginning of 2020. And I think if you’re really honest with yourself, you’ll say the same.
We’ve all grown and evolved over the last three years. And those changes look different for everyone. For me, I’m choosing what I give my attention to more thoughtfully now because time has taken on a new meaning. What is it for you?
Boundaries have been on my mind lately. So I’m making a new boundary to honor the past so it informs my present. I want to root myself in a place where I can accept the past and thrive where I am, because history repeats itself whether we learn from it or not.