Taking Inventory of Your Life
One of the many important things therapy aims to help clients with is taking inventory of their lives to better understand their values and priorities, and how aligned these are with their life choices. It seems that unintentionally people often end up allocating far more energy to areas of their lives they deem less important, while neglecting the more important buckets of their lives with little time or attention. The realization of the disparity between one’s priorities and what they focus on can help an individual re-orient their life in an intentional way that truly reflects their interests and goals.
The increased time at home right now may offer an opportunity to pause and really reflect on where we had been previously expending most of our energy and efforts. We can then consider if these choices truly reflect our intrinsic wants and needs, or if perhaps we may choose to shift our focus going forward. While it is important that we do not put too much pressure on ourselves to be super productive during this overwhelming time (check out this great NYT article on that topic here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/style/productivity-coronavirus.html), simply using the time to take inventory on your life can prove to be very worthwhile. We currently have a unique vantage point to really explore our lives from a more objective lens as we are in many ways unable to engage in our typical daily lives. To start, continue reading below for some examples of areas of your life you may want to explore.
The most obvious career consideration at this time might be how much security your job offers during a tumultuous time. Can your job withstand a global pandemic, financial crisis, etc.? If not, are the skills you have from your current career transferable to other jobs and/or industries? How much of an investment (i.e., schooling, training, etc.) is required for success in your desired job? Are you confident about the return on this investment in the form of fulfillment and/or compensation? When it comes to career, consider your priorities. Some people aim to get their life’s purpose and fulfillment from their career whereas other view working as a means to an end to enjoy other areas of their life, and therefore prioritize income and flexible hours. It is important to note that the value that comes from a job is subjective depending on what a person seeks to get out of work, so it is important to know what you hope to gain from your career. Of course, you may need to put in more energy now for benefits later, but you should feel hopeful that you will ultimately get out of the job enough to make how much you are putting in now worthwhile.
Are you finding yourself enjoying something you previously said you “never had the time for” during this time at home? Many people are returning to their old hobbies such as baking, knitting, painting, board games and puzzling during their quarantines and remembering why these things bring joy. Why is it that we can never find the time for these activities that seem to bring such simple and genuine joy? Perhaps, we simply forgot about these activities, but more likely we weren’t taking proper inventory of our lives and prioritizing the things that make the most impact. As you prepare to integrate back into your busy life, consider how you can create the time to continue with some of these hobbies. Perhaps you will choose to cook dinner after a long day of work because you realize your previous excuse that it took too much time discounted all of the value that comes from the process.
Movement and Meditation
Something many of us previously took for granted before our access became limited was movement and meditation. Now, days are spent looking forward to taking a walk outside or doing a yoga class in one’s living room. Of course exercise had become quite popular before the pandemic, but it seems like during this people are going back to the basics and remembering why moving their body is so important for both their physical and mental health. Meditation has been proving quite effective at grounding individuals feeling understandably anxious and overwhelmed during this time, and these same individuals are realizing that leaning into this meditation practice would likely ground them post quarantine as well. Whereas before meditation might have been something you could never find the time for, you may reconsider making it a daily or weekly practice once you’ve collected evidence of its true value during this time.
Family and Friends
The social distancing and stay at home orders have forced everyone to be physically apart from their friends and family, which presents as a time to really reflect on the relationships in one’s life and how much effort is being put in as well as how much is coming out of these relationships. Which friends are you choosing to stay virtually connected with and which have you found it easy to distance yourself from? Which relationships feel supportive and reciprocal, and which may feel like they take more energy than they ever give back? Perhaps now that you have the time, you are finally reconnecting with that old friend from high school and realizing that that relationship deserves more investing in. Or maybe you have had family Zoom holidays which helped you realize that you had previously taken family get-togethers for granted and will now aim to be more present the next time you can go to your aunt’s house.
The image below shares an exercise to visually explore your satisfaction with different areas of your life. Therapists at Gateway to Solutions are available for virtual sessions and can help you explore your discoveries during this time of exploration as well as help you set meaningful intentions for your life going forward.