Remember the book “Who Moved My Cheese?” It was a short, self-help parable published in the late 1990s that dealt with the topics of uncertainty and change. (I realize some of you weren’t even born then, but stay with me here.) Those of you who do remember this “best seller” may recall that the book wasn’t exactly a literary or riveting masterpiece. (I can hear some of you snickering or groaning out there. And I can see a few of you rolling your eyes.) Still, the book had valid and valuable points: things change, times change, our world changes, industries change, technology changes, markets change, people change, life changes, etc.
The freakin’ Cheese moves. It’s not where we saw it last, it’s not where we thought we put it, and it’s not where someone told us it was.
The times we are facing now with COVID-19 offer us some Big Cheesy Lessons. For many of us, the Cheese hasn’t just moved, it has been irrevocably contaminated. Or our Cheese has hit the proverbial fan and is now splattered all over our offices, homes, and lives. Or it’s been scorched beyond all recognition. (Hey, look! Is that shoe leather?)
These times are unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes. By now, you are already painfully aware of this. I’m preaching to the choir (who now has to practice and perform via Zoom). Unless we make an effort to accept, adapt, and move toward our new reality, we will spend our precious time, energy, and resources on what’s no longer true, real, productive, or even possible. We will be left wondering why old ways and beliefs no longer work.
There are hundreds of experts and thought leaders offering advice for how to cope. I’ll chime in with a few of mine. Perhaps you’ll find a few useful.
But first a quick note: I won’t lie. I’m concerned with our new (but hopefully brief) “socially-distanced” lifestyle. Though it’s supposed to be temporary, I was already increasingly watchful and uneasy about how socially distanced we had become as “very busy people” in modern times. How connected were we really before the Cheese blew up? Perhaps the next few uncertain weeks will give us the chance to pause, reboot, and reconnect (virtually or from safe distance of 6 feet). And I mean not only with our loved ones, but with friends old and new, neighbors, and peers that we have neglected because we’ve been “too busy.”
Now on to my tips…
Here are some ideas that may help you get through the next few weeks with your sanity (and social circles) intact. They may also help you rise again afterwards, a better and more connected-than-ever person; one who doesn’t give a rip about where the Cheese is because you’ve sooooo moved on. (“Cheese? Pfttt! Whatever. So yesterday.”)
- Obviously if you are able to work from home, by all means do that to stay busy and feel “normal.”
- Make some time for non-social activities, such as cleaning out that overflowing closet, reading a good book (fiction, self-help, history, business – whatever), playing games with the kids. (When was the last time you had Game Night? Or played a rousing game of Crazy Eights?)
- Start a pile of donate-able clothes and household goods for those who may need them. We all have way too much stuff.
- Try out some new recipes. (I made quesadillas with leftover short rib meat, mushrooms and carmelized onions yesterday – delicious! And I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a good cook.)
- Go outside to get some fresh air and exercise – and to appreciate Nature.
- Set up a fund to assist those whose jobs have been wiped out for the next several weeks. These people need our help.
- Call your friends and neighbors, especially those who may be at risk, lonely, worried, crazed in dealing with kids, or in need of your assistance. Even if you just call to say “Hello! How are you?” that can make their day.
- Set up calls with friends, co-workers, or even that person you met at a networking event (remember those?) a few weeks ago and want to get to know a bit better. Check in with your clients personally.
- Create or sign up for an online/virtual class, book club, coffee, or happy hour event. More and more of these are popping up.
- Look on social media for a plethora of museums you can visit online or Broadway shows you watch the same way.
- Make a list of the Top 100 things you want to do, places you want to visit, experiences you want to have, books you want to read, people you want to see, etc. when “This” is all over.
- Create a brand new vision board that represents your “new normal” as you’d like it to be. They can’t stop us from dreaming!
- Thank those who are still working: healthcare providers, grocery store and pharmacy personnel, the guy who is still mowing your lawn, etc. These people are heroes and saints. They need our smiles and appreciation.
- Start or keep your gratitude journal practice. Be grateful for all you DO have right now.
- Find things to laugh about. (Oh man, no shortage of that these days. The crocheted toilet paper? Hilarious!)
- And don’t forget to take some time to be still, breath, meditate, pray, nap, stretch, take a nice bath, drink herb tea – whatever calms your soul and heart.
Questions? Comments? Ideas? Want to learn more about what I’m writing, doing and offering as we move into the future? Do you want to be more connected (or help your people get more connected) amidst these changing and uncertain times? There are ways we can make that happen. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-970-8129. Let’s have a visit!
Thank you, Patti, for reminding us that the Cheese has moved!
Yes, I loved that book and read it when making big career changes in ’03.
It’s an excellent reminder to be Sniff & Scurry and not Hem or Haw.
Thanks, Karen. I had totally forgotten the symbolic mouse characters. It is indeed an interesting time that we can look at with fear, indecision, and procrastination — or with a spirit of possibility. Take care amidst this interesting time!
This is a time to recalibrate our lives, and to recognize and prioritize what is important. This is a call to humanity to be a community, a collective. Together we are stronger, more agile and more prepared to survive and thrive.
I am sending this to people I care about. The list is up on the refrigerator door to remind me often about what I need to do. In particular, I going to search for smiles and laughter, along the way. Thanks, as always, Patti! – Wayne
Thanks, Wayne! Anything to get us to smile and laugh will indeed carry us through!
Well written and very true
Patti, thank you for remembering those of us that fall under line item 13. As a clinical lab manager, I am at ground zero, as are my counterparts. As the rest of world slows and isolates, those of us in healthcare are busier than ever. And so are grocery workers, who are clearing and restocking shelves daily to supply all of us with bleach, milk and toilet paper!
Hi Darlene! You have my deep respect and appreciation for doing the vital work you do. And we are doing our best to smile at and express our deep thanks to those still working – sometimes longer hours – to try to manage this event and keep us safe and well stocked. Take care!
Well written and so relevant. I remember the book well: our Broker handed us all a copy as she announced she had sold the Real Estate Company and this was her last appearance!
The garbage truck just came down the street, so grateful.
Hi Karen and thanks for your kind comments. That’s quite a story about your broker. Now there’s a parting gift! And it is indeed the little things that are happening as usual that are making things feel semi-normal and giving us much to be grateful for.
Great newsletter! I totally remember that book. It was an awesome booklet with a powerful message, and you are right, so many of us are looking at what is happening as in “who moved my cheese” and feeling all types of emotions.
Valerie, thanks so much! I think my deepest emotions right now are sadness (for all the people who are being adversely affected by “this”) and the anxiety and confusion that comes with uncertainty. We’re in uncharted waters here, that’s for sure. Glad I’m well stocked with coffee, good food, and wine — and have a roof over my head and my goofy dog nearby. And the weather here in Texas has been pretty so I can go outdoors. Hoping you are seeing all the blessings in your life, too.
Thanks for this. I shared it with my family. I hope it helps them as much as it helped me.
Appreciate this, Debbie! I’m trying to take my own advice. I see some interesting changes up the road – even after “this” is over.