Hello everybody, welcome to episode 86 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Today is a unique episode as we have a question sent in from a returning customer, if you will. The asker of today’s question sent one in before and I personally see a lot of correlation between the two, so we’ll mention the other question and go from there. But first, let’s see what’s on her mind today…
QUESTION: “How do I go back to work?! I’ve started loving quarantine, and we are supposed to go back full time next week. I’m convincing my boss to wait an extra couple of weeks until after my birthday, but I still am having too much of a good time having such leniency on my schedule.”
Prioritize What You Want to Prioritize
Ok, there we have it. Very valid question that I think a lot of us are going to be asking ourselves in the coming days, weeks, months, who knows. So as I said, I think it’s worth it to pull some context clues from the question you last sent in and work with them while exploring this issue. The last question was from episode 26 and the first half of it, the half relative to this question goes as follows:
“I am in a field that is very demanding when it comes to time commitment. The worst part is that I love it and get a lot of fulfillment out of it. That means I don’t have very much time for anything else; usually just part of my weekend is what I have free. I’ve made a list of things I would like to prioritize, such as spending more time outdoors, being physically active, and spending time with friends and family.”
Two things to keep in mind, then:
- You’re going back to work that you love and get fulfillment out of, and
- After this quarantine, you now have a much better idea as to how good life is when you have a chance to run free with all the other things you wanted to incorporate into your schedule aside from work.
The evidence of that alone – of how good you now know it feels to prioritize the things you want to prioritize – will make you more compelled to make time for these things when you go back to work, which is good news. So because you know how good it feels to take part in these things, the less time you’re likely to allow yourself for more useless ways of spending your precious free time. In other words, you’re now more likely to trim the fat and spend all your time more meaningfully.
Looking Deeper at Your Feelings about Work
But just to cover our bases, let’s take this to the extreme. Maybe the time at home has been so good that the dread in going back to work comes from such a deep place that you’re actually questioning whether or not you should take a different job entirely that allows you to be at home more.
Even if your feeling isn’t this extreme, stick with me here for a second, because – note to all of you – thinking of our troubles with very over the top stakes like this helps us flush out new ideas that we might’ve been thinking too conservatively to come to otherwise.
Dig deep and think logically for a second and try to figure out just how good of a time this quarantine actually was. Reflect on all of it, and then truly ask yourself if it’s a life you’d enjoy living forever – if it’s really sustainable and fulfilling long-term. Create a very clear vision of what quarantine life and working from home would be like forever and pay attention to the good parts of it.
This is a tough question because it’s only been two months, which is a sample size that’s better than what you’d normally get, but still not as telling as if you were living in quarantine for, say, 9 months or a year.
Once you’ve magnified quarantine and thought of it as lifelong way of living, whats your answer? Would or wouldn’t you always want to live this way?
Should You Consider Change?
If the answer is yes, then maybe it’s actually worth it to consider changing fields entirely. If your life as a whole has been that much better during quarantine, and you feel like you can make it work financially in a new field, then why not change it?
Don’t let the identity of your past be so strong that it keeps you from making changes rooted in truthfully better circumstances under which to live. If the answer is no, however, then these feelings you’re having are probably mostly just the kid in you that has enjoyed an extended vacation. And you’ll be happier to get back to work than you think and the transition will be smoother than you think.
That’s not to say you can’t pull from the image of not returning to work though – the image of lifelong quarantine. Maybe you can ask for more time working from home now, I’m sure a ton of businesses will be doing that anyway after seeing how cost effective it is to work as much as possible through Zoom meetings and how much happier people are to be at home.
If you’ve liked the extra time with pets, maybe you talk to your boss about bringing pets to work from time to time or something like that. Just because you’re returning to work as you’ve known it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to at least try to change it based on things you’ve now come to realize are really good for your mental health.
Altered Versions of Quarantine Life
At the end of the day, the formula is pretty simple. Hard to live with, but simple nonetheless. Unless the long-term realities of life in quarantine legitimately outweigh the long-term realities of life at your current job, you’re going to go back to work.
Assuming that’s the case, it doesn’t mean you can’t take altered versions of quarantine life with you into going back to the office. And you personally will be better off than others because you like your job. That’s a blessing.
Work After Quarantine: Accommodating to Change
You said in your question that you “started loving quarantine.” To me, that says that, like most, you were feeling uneasy about it when it first began and that you eventually accommodated.
My money says that, unless this has thrown you into a true existential crisis, the cycle is going to repeat and the uneasiness you’re feeling about returning to work will prove to have more benefits than you’re giving credit for right now, and that you’ll accommodate as gracefully as you did to quarantine.
That’ll do it, my friends.
Asker, I can only hope we were marginally useful when we answered your question back in episode 26 since you’ve decided to submit another one. So I can only hope that we have been at least marginally useful again to you today. And that goes for all of you out there who are feeling iffy about inching back into work
If you’ve got questions of your own, please don’t hesitate to send them in whether you’ve asked one before or not. You can email them to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
We’ll take them there and help you out on the show as best we can. Sound cool? Sounds cool to me. I’ll talk to you guys next time. Have a great rest of your day, and be safe out there.