As we enter the month of June, we find ourselves in an interesting dichotomy.
The UK is beginning to relax lockdown measures as other countries are having to reimpose them, given that they are seeing a resurgence in the virus.
Japan and South Korea are this morning reporting an increase in case numbers and therefore are having to do a U-turn and reintroduce some measures which had previously been implemented.
This gives us some idea about the road ahead and shows that the path is probably not going to be a straight one, but rather a very bendy one with several U-turns along the way.
As we begin to open up though, I think we have also reached a point of maximum risk. Risk both to health, but also to our future’s. Not so much from a financial point of view, but more from a lifestyle perspective – how we choose to live our lives.
I have used this metaphor before, but I am going to go with it again.
At this moment – sitting here on 1st June 2020, picture your life as a mostly empty box. The elements of your life in the ‘old world’ have mostly been taken out of the box by force and are now sitting outside the box on the dining room table.
As the UK begins to ‘open up’. You, yes you, get to decide what to put back in. If the past few months have shown us anything, it is that the things currently outside the box are not necessities. You know the things – the frenetic activity, the perhaps slightly unhealthy lunches while in the city, the putting off things which we know are really important because we are ‘too busy’.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, in the ‘old world’ these things probably felt like necessities. They felt like we had to do them, but we have now been shown conclusively that this is not true.
So, this begs the question. What do you want to put back into your box?
Alongside all the elements of your old life now sitting on the table are the new things that have been added to your life since lockdown began. Some of these are good – perhaps weekly zoom calls with the family, more exercise, eating better quality food. Some not so good – too many biscuits in the home office, getting up late etc.
So, on the table, spread out for you to see are all of the elements of your old, pre-lockdown life and all the elements of your lockdown life. The question is which of these things do you want to keep in your life as lockdown eases?
I suspect for many of us, there will be elements of both that we would like to carry forward into the future.
I for one am desperate to get back to a restaurant for a meal out. This is something I enjoyed before but will truly savour in the future (although I certainly will not be rushing to do so when the doors open – wait and see is perhaps the best approach with something as unpredictable as the virus). I am also keen to get back to face-to-face meetings in the office, although I think we all acknowledge that may not be possible or practical for some time yet.
I am keen to maintain the now-every-day exercise routine I have implemented and continue to connect with friends and family more frequently as we move forward.
I suspect that I will also be spending more time on Zoom and other online conferencing tools as we move into the brave new world – I just hope it is not the whole time.
What we keep and what we leave behind can be conscious choices, but these choices can also so easily be made for us. Made for us by the world outside, by external forces, by our bosses, by our friends and family.
My hope is that we don’t sleepwalk into this new world which we are going to find ourselves. That we don’t just wake up one day and wonder what happened to all of the ‘good bits’ of lockdown.
There is a real risk of that happening over the next few weeks as the economy starts to re-open in many cases with little to no notice.
Dentists are a great example of a profession which might be catapulted from zero to 100 in very little time indeed. Having had little information on the re-opening of practices for months, there is now an expectation that they will be ready to open a week on Monday.
So, as our activity, both vocational and social, starts to ramp up over the coming weeks, I just hope that we can choose the best bits to carry forward into our ‘new lives’.
This is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to re-invest how we live and work. I just hope we make the most of that opportunity.