Throughout my life I have periodically heard, and even used, the phrase, “I can’t wait until things get back to normal.” Never has it been so often expressed as in the past two years. Yet, this begs at least a couple of questions: “What is normal?” “Why are we so anxious to go backward in order to get to it?” “Why is embracing change so difficult?”
According to a few dictionaries I’ve reviewed, normal is defined as “conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; regular; natural; serving to establish a standard; of natural occurrence; the standard or type.” Okay. I’ll accept that. However, there is another phrase that has almost become a maxim in the 20th and 21st centuries, “The only real constant is change.” I have also found that to be accurate, and maybe even a truism. Therefore, change is normal, and the only place to find change (or normal) is living in the moment and looking toward the future, not backward to where we have been.
But if this is true, why can’t we wait to go back to something that sounds very predictable and unchanging? What if the normal we seek lies in the standards or patterns that form between the changes? Where is the normal in the midst the changes? I believe the answer is right before each of us. Normal is found within us and in how we engage in the ever-changing world around us.
Think about it. Change has always been our most loyal companion throughout our life’s journey.
With every gain and every loss, with every joy and every sorrow, we have had to change and adjust to the new standard, the “new normal.” Really, it is nothing new. It has been, and always will be, in acceptance and adaptation.
For example, when my parents have each passed, I could have denied it. But it wouldn’t have changed the fact that they were no longer right in front of me. There was no changing the reality. The best I could do was to adapt to the change. Find the new normal by embracing change.
The same is true with the birth of each of our children. There was no putting them back. My wife and I had made choices and taken actions that brought life into the world. No matter how hard it was going to be, I/we needed to accept the new situation and adapt.
These, along with many other experiences have taught me that the world around us is ever changing, and that normal isn’t tangible. It is found in our state of mind, state of heart and our vocabulary. Might I offer few suggestions of how I find normal as often as possible?
I find it in…
- Waking up and greeting each new day knowing it’s not going to be like the one before. It is going to bring with it some new challenges and opportunities, which will open doors and windows of growth, even as others close.
- Approaching each new day with its routines and its changes with a feeling and attitude of gratitude. (For me this includes keeping a gratitude journal in which I try to end each day reflecting on at one thing I can be grateful for that day.)
- Carpe Diem (“Seizing the Day”) for all it has to offer and accepting the consequences that naturally flow from our choices.
- Understanding that Murphy’s Law— “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”—is real, and that he is not just an occasional visitor, but my closest companion wherever I am or whatever I am doing. Then having a contingency plan to deal with the inevitable issues.
I challenge you to approach each day with a sense of gratitude and wonder, even as we face and engage the unknown events and experiences that will unfold before us. I challenge us to make the best of each card life deals us that day. If we accept and embrace change, I promise you that we will find normal. And how amazing normal can be!
As a Talent Management/HR executive with over 20 years of talent and human resource management experience, I strive to deliver value generating services to internal and external clients. This has provided me with the ability to lead or influence people in developing solutions to achieve higher levels of measurable success.