Updated: Jun 22
Hmm maybe? Many in 2019 would see themselves as ready and resilient, having their house in order; some wouldn’t imagine that something could disrupt them.
Then came the pandemic, suddenly many were stuck at home with relatives 24/7, or alone and isolated. Both scenarios were unprecedented for most people. What would have been a solid business model, like a new cool restaurant concept or travel concept, in December 2019, by March 2020 became a worst-case scenario? Our routines and plans, ideas for the future, were suddenly impossible, unfeasible.
We can do as much scenario planning as we want, and it has some very useful purposes. But when we face acute disruption, our dinosaur (amygdala and old brain) takes over because it is its job to keep us alive. Our owl (our frontal lobe), where all our matriculate planning has been taking place, gets shut down because the dinosaur is on high alert, reacting to every tiny input we sense about the threat or change thrown our way. This is where scenario planning can come in handy; developing multiple solutions to a scenario can be very useful especially when facing uncertainty. It allows you to have multiple scenarios that have been planned by the owl to be executed at a time when the dinosaur is triggered.
At the start of the pandemic, everyone was making decisions based on what seemed rational at the time. But as everyone was navigating unknown waters, all decisions were often calculated risks for individuals and their personal lives.
So, what are the strategies we can use when we face uncertainty and disruption in our lives?
Focus on what is within your control
Find your safe place
Find meaning in loss
Be in contact with the people or person you feel safe with
Breathe deeply to calm your nervous system
Take baby steps one at a time as you find manageable
These are some of the strategies I used when I suddenly realised, I was stranded on the other side of the globe from my children and my life in Guangzhou.
I had to pivot as I have never done before. I was trying and testing new things and was fighting to control things that were out of my control until I embraced and accepted this change. With this acceptance, I started to explore the beauty of my new surroundings and of the opportunities. For example, I was given the chance of getting to know my home country with an ex-pat mindset as it wasn’t the Denmark I remembered from when I had left at age 17 anymore.
Living an ex-pat life gives you an insight into other cultures and ways of doing things, which opens and grows your mindset as you slowly immerse in the culture you are living in. The habits and customs of the culture you are in may at first feel uncomfortable and odd, but with time, curiosity and compassion you understand the reason why and this often changes one mindset towards what was first odd behaviour. You learn to become more accepting of differences and sometimes you may even find something you think is brilliant and it is something you start to adopt and make part of who you are.
But this lifestyle comes with a price, it may not always be talked about among the new adventures and exploring new cultures. The distance from family and loved ones is something you and your family learn to live with and will eventually accept. However, it is paid with missed family birthdays, special occasions, missed daily moments — and sometimes guilt. On top of that, you must deal with the prospects of bad news, knowing that you will need at least a whole day to be back home in case something happens. A simple call or unexpected message has the power of sending chills down to your spine.
So, as I shared in my last article, I have moved Mimir online. I have been spending the last many months on testing and trailing my learning portal. For this, I am so excited because online learning has always been of great interest and passion to me since I supported the testing, development, and implementation of an e-learning platform in a school in England, where I worked as a secondary teacher. So, the interest in e-learning triggered by the pandemic is something I truly embrace. I have also learned to navigate the numerous social media used outside China.
As change is inevitable, we need to learn how to equip ourselves, loved ones and the next generation to navigate a world that is in change and disruption.
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