Ok, so we’re all coming to the end of our lockdown sentence – and you’ve probably been angry, depressed, anxious, frustrated, scared and numb – at least a few times each.
I am not one to gild the lily and if you’ve ever read any of my stuff you know I’m not here to give you platitudes or the kind of “inspirational” but meaningless nonsense most people put on social media. We also haven’t made some simpering CliffCentral.com ad with piano music and quotes from spiritual leaders to pretend we care. We do care, and that’s why we haven’t stopped during lockdown – whether it’s my daily show or our award-winning podcast series. To those who have joined the podcast family because of lockdown, welcome! We hope you’ll stay, no matter what happens next.
Right. We have a new reality to face and it’s not pretty. I’m not going to give you more of the doomsday predictions you’ve already heard because well, you’ve already heard them. Many jobs and some industries will become wholly redundant in the post-Covid world and during my conversations with prominent, smart, inspiring and realistic people over the past four weeks I’ve picked up a few basic truths which might help you to plan your own future. If these don’t apply to you, I’ll go away, do some more research and work harder, I promise. In the meantime:
1. If you provide value to people, you’ll be fine. The road will be rocky as hell for a few months, but if you do something nobody else does, or you do it better than anyone else, you’ll be ok.
2. Be very wary of anyone who thinks this crisis is terrific news. As I’ve said before, they might just be the kind of person who likes to destroy things and watch them burn. They probably weren’t that invested in the world before the crisis and they probably don’t really care what happens next. They’re taking pleasure in this bad movie we’re all living through, and you should be suspicious of their motives – they’re not the kind of people you should spend your precious post-lockdown time with.
3. Learn to let go of certain things: Concerts, festivals, clubs, bars and restaurants might not come back for a very long time. Get used to much more low-key, much more intimate gatherings. You might have really loved those things, and you might be angry they’re gone, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Event organisers won’t take the risk and some of them can’t because their businesses are broken. You’ll be making most of your food yourself for a while.
4. You’ll see a whole lot less travel on social media. Most of us won’t be able to afford any trips at all. Even rich people will stop posting pics of their balloon trip over Cappadocia, or clips of them diving off the deck of a yacht in the Riviera – because they’ll be embarrassed. Now that you’ve spent weeks at home, you might consider a trip to the shops a holiday. By the way, if you started reading books and listening to podcasts during lockdown, carry on… because that can take you to places – real and fantastical – and it won’t cost a thing.
5. Family will either have come to mean more than ever, or you’ll know for sure that you only need to see them once a year. That depends on you, and on how nice they are. The same goes for friends – you’ve probably prioritised the ones you really love being around and tossed the hangers-on to the side. That’s good for you and for them. Don’t feel bad.
6. You might have realised that you were wasting a bit of money amusing and entertaining yourself. Eating out, drinking, going to shows – all of that costs money and you won’t be spending that money for a few months. Save it. You might need it. Cut costs wherever you can – you don’t need that many pairs of sneakers or that expensive car, do you?
7. Work might actually be your happy place. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and you may relish the time spent with colleagues, in the office and perhaps even in TRAFFIC! Because you were stuck in your house for a long time, you might have disabused yourself of the notion that all you really needed was more time at home. If you have a job to go to, be grateful for it and make every minute count.
8. Perhaps the lockdown has reminded all of us how important our fundamental rights are, and how we shouldn’t take them for granted. Most of us just go about our business without thinking about the social contract that we have with the state and each other. In one fell swoop, government denied you your right to free movement, free association and the right to buy things you wanted. They also denied you your right to provide for your family or walk the dog. If we emerge from this crisis with a clear view of what we demand for government, next time we’ll be careful not to just let them take our rights from us, even for good reasons.
9. You’ll enjoy dressing up again. For those of us who are’t terribly interested in clothes or dressing to impress, the lockdown was heaven. At least we didn’t need to wear smart clothes or shoes – we could dress down and for comfort. Maybe the next invitation to dress up and make an effort will galvanise the part of you that has been hidden in track pants, slippers and t-shirts, into a sexy dress or suit.
10. Breathe. This may be the most difficult time you’ve lived through. There may be more difficulties to come. You can’t solve the world’s problems and you can take solace in the fact that all of us are going through an adjustment – rich and poor, old and young, black and white, introverts and extraverts. You can only start with you – your attitude, your priorities and those you care about. Take a deep breath and jump in… you’re living through history.