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As the world begins to show signs of recovery after this long and arduous year has passed, I find myself in an uncomfortable position concerning many matters. At home, I’m questioning if it’s finally safe for me to visit my loved ones — the ones I haven’t had a chance to hug for over a year.
At work (and by work, I mean my living room), I’ve been fortunate and stubborn enough to propel my career — even during these challenging times. However, sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the pandemic has presented an opportunity for many of us to recalibrate and rethink our careers. I know I’m not alone on this one; I’m sure many have had the same thought. Some have been forced to think about this because they were fired or furloughed. Some others took the tumultuous circumstances as a sign, thinking that if there were ever a time to work on something else, it’s now.
Of one thing I am certain: Whatever your situation or condition is, we’ve all been uncomfortable. We’re uncomfortable because it is unprecedented. We’re uncomfortable because there is no manual on how to navigate a global pandemic. But in the middle of this chaos, there is a silver lining: We’re beginning to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Related: How Post-Pandemic Business Trends Will Shape the World
I’ve been the CEO of a proptech startup based in New York for the past four years. I co-founded my company with a good friend of mine who, for personal reasons, had to step away from his leadership position at our company two years ago — months before the pandemic. I was left leading a team of truly exceptional people by myself, with no guidance and no help. This is the story of how I’ve been able to manage and, dare I say, even thrive.
Create a personal board of directors
My mother once taught me, knowing that my brain has always been stimulated by business talk, to create something similar to a board of directors — but for my life. What does that mean? If you think about it, any big, successful company has a board of directors. Whenever the company faces tough times, the company leaders turn to this board searching for answers, knowing that whatever guidance it provides has the company’s best interests above all.
Like that, we all need to create our own “board of directors” that we can turn to when facing challenges in our lives, people we can turn to for support, knowing that they’ll respond with advice geared towards our best interest — even if it’s not in theirs.
Your life’s board of directors can be composed of however many people you like, but it’s usually fewer than six, as it is genuinely hard to find people who are willing to put your needs before theirs. It can be composed of family members, friends, mentors or a mix of all.
I created my life’s board of directors years ago; some of them don’t even know they’re on it, as it has never come up, but these are people I fully trust and from whom I often seek advice. When presented with tough challenges such as this year’s, we can all benefit from distinct perspectives that shed light from a different angle on the challenges ahead. Create, and maybe even write down, the board of directors for your own life.
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
Yes, it’s a thing. Have you ever noticed how your busiest friends are commonly the ones who can manage to make time for you? The more active people are and the fuller their agendas, the better they manage their time. As events progress during their daily lives, they often have to rework their schedules to make things happen — they have become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
If I ask a favor of a friend who usually has little to do, he or she will take a long time to get it done. However, when I ask someone whose schedule is generally crazy, he or she always knows how to manage the circumstances to help me almost immediately.
Things have changed for most of us this past year — some for better, many more for worse. What we can do is learn to survive, and even thrive, by getting up and getting things done even when we don’t necessarily want to. For me, it’s like my body has been trained to do even more things when I’m uncomfortable. “I don’t want to do this because I simply don’t have the energy,” I tell myself often. Then, I prove myself wrong by doing it.
Related: The Case for a Business Partner Who Makes You Uncomfortable
Write your to-do list the night before
Writing what I have to accomplish the night before has significantly helped me keep my business afloat and grow. I’m sure many have heard this advice before, but only a few people follow it. I encourage you to give it a shot. I’ve already gone through a few notebooks since I began doing this. I find it incredibly helpful.
Find your energy “outlet”
Every pressurized system needs a release valve. When I feel frustrated, angry or anxious, I exercise. I love to exercise because sweating creates endorphins, making me my best. As I’m writing this down, I am two days away from participating in an international triathlon for which I’ve been training for months. This past year has been so stressful that it has literally turned me into a triathlete. Still, I found a way to channel my negative energy into something positive — and I firmly believe that everyone can do the same.
Of course, I’m not necessarily encouraging everyone to become a triathlete, but simply encouraging you to find the activity that helps you relieve stress and anxiety. For some, it’s going for a walk; others find comfort in cooking, getting their nails done or volunteering. What can you do to channel your current negative energy into something positive? Find out and do it often; the more you do it (within reason), the better you’ll feel.
Related: 25 Best Habits to Have in Life
Every phase of your life will demand a different version of you. Whether you are a small-business owner, an employee or just an unemployed person with an idea, following these tips can help you navigate these uncertain times and hopefully help you create your best self. Lastly, remember that a person’s behavior has more to do with his or her internal struggle than with you, so be kind to others, and be kind to yourself.