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What If the COVID-19 Pandemic Had Never Changed Our Lives?

What If the COVID-19 Pandemic Had Never Changed Our Lives?

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By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Dean, School of Business, American Public University

It has been a while since I last wrote an article. During this last week of the month of August, I experienced a series of life-changing situations, and I saw an opportunity to encourage everyone to evaluate their lives over the last year.

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Rethinking What Has Happened This Year

Since the first quarter of 2020, many of us have been challenged to rethink the way that we live our lives. Depending on who you speak to, the changes created by the COVID-19 pandemic have been positive for some while others believe their worst nightmares have come true.

There is one group about which I have particular concerns. They are the individuals who are putting everything into life as they knew it, and they hope that their lifestyles will revert back to the way things used to be.

But my question is, “What if it doesn’t happen?” Can these individuals move forward and embrace a brand-new world?

It is in my nature to be a change agent. Therefore, I accept the premise that nothing is actually the same on a daily basis. There is at least one aspect of your life that can change on a regular schedule and has the potential to alter how you view life and your decisions.

Each of us are dealt with a hand in life. It is up to us to decide how we want to play the cards that we are dealt. We may not have the opportunity to shuffle the deck, so what are we going to do? There will be moments that we are dealt a wildcard.

I would like to think the wildcard of 2020 is the pandemic. We are about to enter the fourth quarter of the year. What have we learned? What lessons will we gleam a new vision to move forward with our lives in 2021?

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Chaos Took Many People Aback

I, like many others, did not know what to think when the pandemic started. I don’t believe I was fearful, but I was anxious to see how everything was going to turn out. Although this year has been very chaotic, I choose to focus on the positive outcomes of 2020.

In spite of the cloud of uncertainty, I like to focus on the positive things that have occurred in my life. How has my life changed for the better? I have regained the ability to be mindful and I focus on the necessary activities of my day by:

  • Reducing my stress level and staying mindful of how to schedule a realistic routine on a daily basis
  • Developing a lifestyle that is practical and simple
  • Living in the present

Life Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me to live a meaningful life as I made changes to my lifestyle that improved my health and mental well-being. I am more realistic now about what is important to me in life.

How did I accomplish this transformation? When I experience chaos, I initially retreat and develop a plan. My 2020 plan was to find my “bat cave” and regroup.

Regrouping involved the purchase of several journals and writing down my thoughts about my past, present, and future. Initially, I wrote on topics such as what I liked about my life, what I had learned from my past and how I currently viewed options for my future.

I chose to write in journals because I remembered how it felt to write on the chalkboard when I was in elementary school. Teachers use to say that writing in repetition would “burn” the message in our hearts.

I truly believe that writing a vision helps bring clarity to where you want to go and how you expect to get there. Using a pencil allows you to erase some items that need to be changed, because life will inevitably throw us some curveballs. We have the opportunity to start with a clean slate as we retract and re-invent.

The journals also allow me to go back and read how I thought about my life in the past. I like to evaluate my state of mind during different periods in my life as I assess how I chose to make decisions that eventually impacted my future.

Finally, I revisited the importance of having down time to take care of me, which involves being alone to think and reflect. I will always remember 2020 as the year that I started with uncertainty and ended with clarity.

What have you learned about yourself this year? Do you see a bright future regardless of your current circumstance? How do you want to end 2020? You have one more quarter to go. Dare to dream the impossible.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Dean of the School of Business at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.

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