[Listen to me read this reflection here]
When I allow myself the pleasure of imagining a post pandemic bucket list, the initial thoughts that flood my mind are the obvious and expected ones. Giving friends a hug, looking people in the eyes, feeling the energy of a room full of people and traveling to new or inspiring places. This all now feels within reach and a smile shows up on my face as I imagine crossing each of these off my post pandemic bucket list this year.
When I ask myself what might my life look like after the initial rush and excitement of these experiences, deeper questions arise, ones that I do not have clear answers to.
Many decisions, big and small, will be made over the next few months that will influence the direction of my life over the next few years. Unlike the previous year or so, where it felt as though decisions were made for me, the next little while will feel quite different.
Where to live
Many of us in our 20s and 30s have temporarily moved back home. I know this is not permanent, and so do my parents. That may be why we have all chosen to enjoy each other’s company so much more as of late, and be more loving, accepting and tolerating of one another. We all sense that our time together, in this way, is coming to an end soon.
Many others changed cities, either to be more rural and less urban, or to simply experiment with being in a different place. I can only imagine the number of dinner table conversations happening right now about where the family wants to live post pandemic.
To choose where to live next is ultimately a question of values. The deciding factor for me is feeling inspired by where I am, within my economic realities. Inspiration comes from the people in my close proximity, the culture and community, the type of lifestyle available and the physical space that I am in.
A post pandemic migration for many of us will begin to happen, to where I do not yet know though.
The company to keep
My social networks have been redrawn over the past year. The pandemic has been long enough for new friendships to form, long enough for old friendships to fade, and spacious enough for looser connections to become tighter.
I can see now that a lot of previous connections were born out of circumstance. Like the people in high school that I would spend so much time with but now can barely remember their names or recognize their faces, this pandemic has been long enough for my social connections to change.
Who I feel close to, the frequency in which I connect and the depth of connection I enjoy have all changed faster in the past year than in a typical year. This past year has given me a lot of information about the types of connections that I value and need most in my life at this moment.
In recent conversations with friends, what I hear reflected back to me the most is a desire to have fewer, deeper connections post pandemic. It feels like along our journey, we collect a lot of friends, and this pandemic is a cleanse and reset of sorts. We now each will be more intentional about the company that we keep.
How to work
Businesses are making different choices about the return to the office, in professional white collar industries. At one end of the spectrum are businesses that expect a near full-time return to a physical office space. At the other end of the spectrum are businesses, like mine, that have made a Work From Anywhere decision and have no plans to have any physical office spaces. And then there is something in between, what is referred to as a hybrid model, with a few days per week in the office and a few days at home. How much flexibility will be tolerated in the hybrid model is unknown.
A reckoning may be coming, as people who have saved money over the past year, and have gotten to experience living with less, now have more choices. The risk is high for a misalignment between the type of work lifestyle businesses expect and what people are imagining for themselves and their families.
In particular, many larger businesses may face higher turnover rates this year. Big tech, unicorns and high growth businesses who have made their employees net worth and social worth skyrocket in the past year are now at risk of losing them. Their currency is worth more and they have more options.
I have been hearing from a number of friends and clients sharing with me that they are now ready for their next chapter. They are tired and looking for a change.
The pandemic fatigue I feel is at an all time high these days.
I remain optimistic about the possibilities of a future that looks different than not only the past, but also the present. And I remain incredibly grateful to all of the professionals in so many industries that I had previously not appreciated. They have kept us safe, nourished and healthy.
Change is motivated either by a desire to run away from where we are, or by a desire to run to something that we are inspired by.
Ahead of the many decisions that I suspect will be made over the coming months, I hope for them to be motivated by running to something that is attractive to me, versus running away from something that I am tired of.
This is a moment when I feel inspired to zoom out even further, and reflect more deeply about the type of life that I imagine for myself. I hope to be intentional, thoughtful and deliberate about my post pandemic bucket list.
A lot of the past year has felt accidental. The pandemic has asked us to be adaptable. This has been easier for some, and difficult for others, but we have largely adapted well enough to get through this as a collective.
Now, each of us is going to ask the people, places and businesses in our respective worlds to adapt to our post pandemic bucket list. It is filled with deeper desires and more meaningful and thoughtful intentions for a post pandemic life.