Getting Our Back-to-School Minds Right

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Fresh starts grip our imaginations with possibility, which is why January 1st is such a common day to begin a new and improved lifestyle. Mondays and the first day of a new month are also right up there along with meaningful occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, pay raises, a move, a new job, the start of school or any other day or event we’ve assigned meaning to…they all feel invested with a power that can tip transformation success in our favor. It makes sense that we would see it that way because turning points are natural places to assess and decide how we’re going to be and what we’re going to do moving forward. It’s a wonderful time of hope.
But I’m not here to sugar coat…well, you know. As we watch this year’s back-to-school preparations go from being a joyous return to something like normal to a disheartening return to masks, it doesn’t feel like a fresh start for any of us. Even if we don’t have a kid in school, the academic calendar and the back-to-school mentality is so engrained it still feels like the natural time to re-set, start over and get a new supply of pens. And so for all of us, crossing into fall this year is extra loaded which is why it’s more important than ever to ask ourselves those two questions:
  1. How do I want to be with this? 
  2. What am I going to do?
Logistically we know how life in the time of a pandemic goes. We’ve either got the drill down or we can use our first-time around experience to guide us in making strategic course corrections for a smoother flow of life this time around. That’s mechanics. (We’re all going to come out of this with a whole new mechanical skill set!) The trickier correction, though, may be in our mind: as Hamlet likes to say, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
Thanks for that, Hamlet. Easier said than done but point taken.
When I think back to my mindset in March of 2020 when we didn’t know much of anything about the virus or how to protect ourselves from it, I see some wild, panicked primal part of my mind sneakily expressing its fear in all manner of disruptive ways that did me no good. This time around I want to be calmer, more secure in knowing that I have the power to protect myself and that those protections are very effective. I want my mindset to be accepting of where we are right now with the determination to simply keep moving through this phase until we emerge on the other side.
What about you? What was your mindset first time around? How do you want to be this time around?
As for what I will specifically do to support a calmer mindset, my plan going into this fall is three-pronged:  
  1. I will eat the right things for my body
  2. When I get overwhelmed, I will visualize myself as a mountain…strong, stable, steady, secure. I will breathe in steadiness until the surface disruption on my mountain top lays back down.
  3. I will wear my mask in wholehearted agreement with reality as we know it in the moment.
Your turn. What are you specifically going to do to take on whatever this year turns out to be? What about your family? Your kids?
The profound truth is that we’re just so tired of this and want to be done. We just aren’t. But as Tony Horton from P90X likes to say, “If you get your mind right, you can do anything!
I know, Tony is a relentlessly positive fellow, but like Hamlet, he makes an exceptionally good point. Getting our minds right really will determine how bad or good our experience will be. And right now? We get a do-over. Whatever didn’t go so well earlier, we now have the opportunity to correct. There is possibility in that.
To do-overs and possibility! (I forced myself to put that happy exclamation point there. 😊 )