We can all dream and plan and set ourselves goals – but will we?

This year has certainly been different. Many businesses have been closed, families have been estranged and, for many individuals, it has been a lonely time of isolation.

I know it is not guaranteed but if all goes to plan, September will see the full opening of schools and I hope the return of more staff to work as well as businesses opening more fully.

I am going to be optimistic and I want to move forward. August is the time to do just that.

My top tips on moving forward

Those of you that I know well in leadership and management roles, are truly leading.

We have all been bogged down by ever-changing government guidance. Do not get embroiled in the detail and unclear message.

Your staff want full engagement; listen to their views. They want and need your reassurance and positivity.

Rise to challenges. Listen, discuss, and act accordingly. Consider motivational strategies.

Consider joining a network. Coming together with other like-minded professionals can be a real source of support. If you are a business owner or manager and work in the early years sector and are based in Hampshire, see Early Years Advocacy networks.

As an individual you can review plans and goals set earlier in the year – are they still relevant? What needs to be changed? Set new goals, new timescales. Be realistic.

Be prepared but do not overthink things. Those ‘what if’ type questions can lead to negativity and overwhelm. There is a fine balance. Reflect on all that you have done well and achieved in constantly changing times and know that you can face the challenge.

Reflection

My father-in-law at ninety-one (his birthday today!) cannot remember a time like this.

Wartime was tough he recalls as the youngest of nine children living in the cold north but at least family and friends could congregate, support and comfort each other in person – ‘not with this’ he said with trepidation at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown.

He is a wise man. I can hear his voice ringing in my ear saying ‘I did not get this far in my life without being careful’ following my constant repetition over the telephone of ‘please take care’, in those dark and miserable early days of lockdown with limited contact.

At least now I can hear more confidence in his words and can see the smile on his face and laughter in his eyes as we see a lifting of some restrictions in most areas of the country, in work and in our personal lives.

We cannot, however, forget what has happened since March of this year. The loss of so many lives and livelihoods, the impact on the economy and the uncertainty about the future. It was not just a bad dream.

There have been positives however for many people. Different and often better ways of working. Time to reflect on our lives and what is important – to make changes. Parents having more quality time with their children.

In the beginning, I saw so many more families out and about together enjoying the simple things in life, cycling and walking. I heard stories of parents playing more games with their children, negotiating, and making compromises with how they spent their time together. How they were all going to work and live together harmoniously under the same roof – what a joy. Small things previously overlooked in the busy lives that people had been living.

Of course, we must not forget either that this was not the case for all; we have all heard the reports on the difficulties for so many families. The increase in domestic violence and the rise in mental health issues as well as the excesses that have tormented others and the many sacrifices that people have made. This is not going to go away in an instance.

In the main those that I know have reported that the last four months have not been easy, and they see that the future remains uncertain. I am not a pessimist, just a realist.

So, what could you do today and beyond?

I continue to dream and to plan. Lockdown has given me time – perhaps for you too?

In April as we moved into week six I wrote about finding a way through Covid-19, I took my own advice and it worked.

I developed more ‘healthy habits’, focussed on the small and happy moments, and delayed treats to savour them more.

I created routines which included the things I enjoyed most but I mixed these up to avoid boredom.

I showed more gratitude and made my appreciation clear.

I listened more attentively to my husband with the intention of avoiding misunderstanding and conflict. I hope he would agree!

I avoided excess food and alcohol – most of the time. I will get on the scales next week but avoid counting the empty bottles!

The most impactful activity, however, was to constantly revisit my thoughts and feelings. To review my mindset and adapt and change it as necessary so that I could feel and speak more positively about the future.

Few can deny that life has been a ‘rollercoaster’ of emotions, we all have our personal stories, but it is about accepting and understanding and not being fearful of the vulnerability that you may feel.

All these things helped me to ‘find a way’ but I am ready to move on. I want to dream, and plan and I will set myself goals.

August will be the perfect month to do just that, with more certainty and confidence.

‘Action is the catalyst that creates accomplishments. It is the path that takes us from un-crafted hopes to realised dreams’

(Thomas Huxley, Physiologist 1825 – 1895).

A reminder

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