How Focusing on What You Really Want to Do Will Make You Happy
When we came out of the pandemic, I knew I was going to miss the time we had off. I enjoyed the solitude and having time to focus on doing the things I really wanted to do.
A Case Study: Three Things I’m Taking From The Time of the Pandemic and Bringing Forward: Daily Writing, Learning and Walking.
I love when I discover snippets of wisdom as I go about my daily WorkLife. I was listening to Don McLean, who was a guest on Cal Fussman’s podcast: Big Questions, when he mentioned: ’The Flexible Mind Concept’ He said: “Having a flexible mind is what makes a person happy, and is the difference between a happy and an unhappy person.”
He went on to say he could have spent all the time of the pandemic bitching about the fact that he wasn’t on tour, but he didn’t. Instead, he said: “OK, this is going to last a long time, so I’m going to forget about touring; I’ve got things I really want to do, so I’ll focus on those instead.”
I really related to that. I had published my first book: Your WorkLife Your Way: Make Your WorkLife Work For You, in December 2019 and the accompanying Your WorkLife Your Way Workbook in February 2020. I created workshops on each of the chapters in the book, and I launched events to run these workshops, which I subsequently had to cancel when the pandemic hit, along with the talks, I had planned to promote my book.
Now I could have rushed to get on the online learning bandwagon and turn each chapter’s live workshop into online workshops, but I didn’t. Instead, I focused on offline learning. I focused on writing stories. That’s because telling people’s powerful WorkLife stories of their challenges and successes are at the core of my work. I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.
As a WorkLife learning practitioner, I’ve helped many people through times of change and uncertainty brought about in the past by economic downturns. I never cease to be amazed how resilient people are in times of adversity. These are the stories I’ve always captured, and during this time of great uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, these are the stories I continued to capture.
Difficult times, situations and circumstances are where real learning takes place. This is where people surprise themselves when they discover how capable they are to come through what life has thrown at them through sheer grit and determination. This is where people realise they have so much within themselves to enable whatever is needed to happen to take place. This is where people have the realisation they need to have a flexible mindset to do what is needed to be done, to push through difficult times, situations and circumstances.
These are the stories that inspire so many more people to adopt a flexible mindset, to recognise and take ownership of their resilience and their abilities to do what is needed to survive times of great uncertainty and to come through with a renewed sense of belief in themselves.
So instead of jumping on the online learning bandwagon, I stopped where I was, and I began capturing people’s present-day stories of what they were doing to survive in these times of uncertainty. And I also went to the past to uncover what people did when they had faced times of uncertainty. In capturing these stories, I wrote them down, and I began sharing them.
Don McLean said: “I thought what can I do to write a beautiful song that someone would love and enjoy, rather than tell my troubles to everyone. I’m a performer; my job is, no matter how bad I feel, is to go out there and deliver the show to make people feel happy, turn them on, make them cry, whatever, get ideas out there.” Unknowingly I had followed the same practice. I had immediately begun writing down, then sharing the stories I had captured. I, too, had worked to get ideas out there.
As well as spending my days learning and writing, I was also walking. Walking is something I love, and when I’m learning and writing, walking really helps me to make sense of things, it helps me to have ideas, it helps me to allow those ideas to percolate, it helps me to have realisations, it helps me to connect things, it helps me to put things in perspective. Walking helps me in so many ways – my thinking and my mental wellbeing, as well as my physical wellbeing.
Now, all that said, I did have a period during lockdown where I wasn’t walking. I was so engaged in my learning and writing that I stopped making time for walking. I share how I got back to walking in my story:
So, as lockdown restrictions are being lifted in the UK, and we were able to do more with more people, I found that I wasn’t rushing to get back to anything that remotely represents the hustle and bustle of everyday London life. If anything, I resisted it strongly.
Because I enjoyed the time I had off. I enjoyed the time I spent learning, writing and walking. I will slowly get back to life that will be somewhat representative of life before the pandemic, and when I do, the three things I’m going to take from this time off from the world and bring forward are: Daily writing, learning and walking. Oh, and a flexible mindset too.
As Don McLean said of The Flexible Mind Concept when Cal Fussman asked him what would he say to people who maybe don’t think they practice this. He said: “You’ve had this experience, and now this is going forward, and you say what am I going to do with this week, and you say I’m going to learn something, I’m going to learn at least one thing every day.” He went on to say he learns lots of new things every day.
So do I.
I leave you today with three questions:
What are some of the things that you learn as you go about your everyday WorkLife?
What has your experience of The Flexible Mind Concept been over the time you had off from the world?
What are the things you’re going to take from this time out and bring forward?
This story was originally published on 22/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you
… The Continuing Story …
The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.
In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.
Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.
I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.
My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning.
School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.
The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.
School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time.
What is Self Directed Learning?
Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint.
Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning
You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.
Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.
Founder of School of WorkLife, Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning. These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies. which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.
That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.