As we all continue to acclimate to what’s being dubbed “the new normal” amidst COVID-19 (and let me go on record to say there’s been very little in my world that has felt remotely normal, but that’s the phrase we’re using anyway!), I find myself frequently asking the question, “So now what?”
It’s a question that helps me figure out the best next step when I need to move forward, particularly when things I wanted, or counted on, or hoped for didn’t materialize. It keeps me from getting lost in the disappointment of it all.
I’m guessing that for many of us, that feeling of disappointment is a daily or even hourly occurrence.
There are things we hoped to accomplish that just can’t get done due to the people needing our time and attention right now, whether children, spouses, parents, co-workers, clients, and more. There are milestones we’re celebrating in new and different ways, like birthdays, holidays, even graduations. I’m sure the members of the class of 2020 are more than a little disappointed at this turn of events, even with national ceremonies planned.
So now what? How do we move past that disappointment? Well, it ain’t easy, especially if you have been waiting a long time for a particular milestone. The disappointment doesn’t go away, but with So now what? you don’t get stuck there.
So now what? forces you to think about what else you can do. It shifts your attention to the future, instead of the disappointing past. Now that the thing you didn’t want to have happened has happened, what will you do next?
I’m not advocating that we ignore our emotions. I’m not trying to minimize the disappointment either. I’m advocating for preventing the negativity from taking over (I’ve been there and it’s no fun!).
I recently celebrated my birthday. This is nothing compared to the major milestones that many people are missing out on. The disappointment was there, though. I couldn’t do any of the things I would normally do to celebrate, like go out to eat, watch the Kentucky Derby, hit up a cool thrift shop, and meet up with friends. So now what? I could choose to wallow in my misery and sweatpants… or come up with a new plan.
I picked a meal we could make at home. I went on a hike at a recently re-opened state park nearby. I had some video calls from well-wishers. I tried a new homemade donut recipe and more importantly, I got to pick which plate I ate it on (anyone with younger kids knows how big a deal getting to pick a plate can be!). None of it was my first choice for celebrating, but it was a pretty decent plan B. I chose to have fun.
So now what? It’s one of those questions I ask my clients frequently, especially when we’re talking about the future. Maybe that job posting closed before you got to apply. Worse yet, maybe you applied and never heard back. Worse still, maybe you interviewed and they loved you… but they decided to go with the other candidate and you’re the solid second choice. So now what? How will you keep moving forward in your job search?
In work and life, not everything goes to plan. In fact, I’m 1,000% confident that the past 2 months haven’t gone entirely the way you hoped or anticipated. So now what?
#PositiveAction Take one disappointing thing that’s happened recently and ask yourself, “So now what?” to find the next best step you can take given your present reality.