As excitement and anticipation builds in equal measure for what the Covid-19 vaccine means for us all, discussion has returned to how we might all continue in the “new normal”.
What do we need to consider for returning to a “new normal” at work? What will the “new normal” mean for our social lives; for a revised work/life balance; for our confidence, self-esteem and futures?
The problem is that the term “new normal” is destructive and restrictive. it’s a toxic way of thinking about our lives, at home or at work.
Firstly, there is no “normal”. We do have consistent periods where things have regular patterns, routines and when little changes, however, that’s still only broadly true. Every single day a pumping flow of hormones, neuro-chemicals and environmental factors change how we think and feel. The weather; the light levels; temperature; hunger; work load, and our ability to fulfil our core needs all influence what at any one time feels like normal to us. Multiply those needs and fluctuating changes across myriad number of people you interact with and it becomes obvious that what we might consider “normal” right now, won’t necessarily feel normal to someone else, and won’t exist in the same way for long.
The danger with becoming obsessed with what a “new normal” is or might be is that it prevents us from thinking creatively and adaptively; two core and innate characteristics that are often suppressed unintentionally by restrictive language and societal ‘”norms”. Our focus becomes a linear mindset of seeking and maintaining “normal”, rather than embracing and expanding our ability to adapt, evolve, create, consider, reflect and consistently look to improve.
However, there’s a further destructive consideration that concerns me, too. In the weight loss and body building communities phrases such as “get a better body”, and “achieve a look fit for summer” are used frequently. The implication that your body is not already good enough, or that you need to change it for summer is toxic and nonsense. This same danger will play out with our seeking out a framework for a “new normal”: who we were before suddenly doesn’t count, and if we don’t fit into the totally fabricated version of “new normal”, we aren’t part of that normal, so, therefore, abnormal.
Normal does not exist. Embrace our natural, innate ability to do with today what today brings, and plan for tomorrow, but to wholly understand and appreciate that trying to create something normal is futile and dangerous for the long term. Besides, normal is taken; be something different – the world needs that much more.
Jez Rose is a broadcaster, nature enthusiast, global speaker and award-winning author. Frequently seen on British television, his books include ‘Flip the Switch’ . He is a firm favourite as one of the most sought-after keynote speakers at conferences worldwide. Join him on social @ThatJezRose