By Rosalie Millard-Evans BSc. MSc. Ch.Psychol
As COVID-19 restrictions are starting to lift now is a great time to think about the future. Whilst the world slowing down has created a natural period of reflection, there is now a unique opportunity to consider the positive learnings from the lockdown and use these to make proactive life choices.
Mental Health and Wellbeing is of growing importance to many people. By using it as lens by which to consider your future you can make choices that move your mental health and wellbeing higher up the agenda. LeadChange’s M.O.V.E model uses simple research-based psychology activities to support you to EMERGE from lockdown and build a healthier, happier and more meaningful future.
I am going to tackle these in reverse order (EVOM wasn’t such a memorable acronym!!)
Transitions come with emotions, positive and negative, and it’s important to recognise how you are feeling. By stopping and considering what you are feeling and why, you can make better choices for your emotional health.
Activity: Circle of Influence
- Make a list of the all the things that are worrying you and that that you feel excited about.
- Use Covey’s Circle of Control and Influence to sort them into those inside your control/influence and those outside (not familiar with the circle of control? Learn more here)
- Put actions against all those within your control / influence
COVID has created a unique opportunity to stop and consider what is most important to you. Tapping into your values enables you to make values-based choices that will increase the meaning, fulfilment and wellbeing you experience in life.
Activity: Know your Values
- Ask yourself, “What matters to me most? What do I live for? What drives me to get up every morning?” and take 60 seconds to write down every single thing that pops into your head (however big or small).
- Rank each value based on its importance to you (starting with “1” next to your most important value). It’s fine if it’s not completely accurate, just give yourself a rough idea.
- To help with ranking, imagine which value you would choose over another. For example, if you had to choose only X or only Y – which would you choose?
- Once you’ve finished ranking, take the top 5 values you discover.
- Now grade yourself on each value. Are you fulfilling it, or do you need to work on it more? Give yourself an A-F grade for each value on your list depending on your current situation in life.
- Based on this evaluation, identify which you need to work on and how
It is highly likely that the current COVID circumstances mean your life goals have changed, so now is a good time to think about what you want from the future. This is intricately linked to values but involves goal setting which increases motivation and attainment. This is about knowing what you want and setting a clear path to achieve it. This activity draws on positive psychology to help think about what an ideal future work life looks like. Research suggests that building optimism about the future can motivate people to work toward that desired future and thus make it more likely to become a reality.
Activity: Ideal Future Self
- Take a moment to imagine your life in the future. What is the best possible life you can imagine? Consider all the relevant areas of your life, such as your career, academic work, relationships, hobbies, and health. What would happen in these areas of your life in your best possible future?
- For the next 15 minutes, write continuously about what you imagine this best possible future to be. Use the instructions below to help guide you through this process.
- It may be easy for this activity to lead you to examine how your current life may not match this best possible future. You may be tempted to think about ways in which accomplishing goals has been difficult for you in the past, or about financial/time/social barriers to being able to make these accomplishments happen. For the purpose of this activity, however, we encourage you to focus on the future—imagine a brighter future in which you are your best self and your circumstances change just enough to make this best possible life happen.
- This activity is most useful when it is extremely specific—if you think about a new job, imagine exactly what you would do, who you would work with, and where it would be. The more specific you are, the more engaged you will be in the activity and the more you will get out of it.
- Be as creative and imaginative as you want, and don’t worry about grammar or spelling.
This is all about being proactive and planning to ensure you have what you need to emerge and promote your mental health. It won’t just happen unless you make it happen and everyone knows change takes time, energy and commitment. Write down what you plan to do as a result of the activities above and share it with someone trusted who can help hold you to account and encourage you when you hit barriers.
Regularly review the actions you have made and consider the following:
- What are the barriers to you achieving them?
- What support will you need to achieve them?
- How will you get it?
- When do you want to achieve it by?
- How will you know you have achieved it?
- Who will hold you accountable? Do you need a coach? Will you share it with you partner / friend / manager?