So you’ve worked out, done a little cooking, decluttered. And you still have time on your hands. How about a little work on yourself? Here are five things you can do to emerge from social distancing, a new and improved you.
Make or break a habit: It takes 21 days to form a habit, they say, or to break one. Start now and you’ll have the momentum you need to carry forward your resolution when things normalise. The essence of making a good habit stick is to not be ambitious and use motivation to get the job done. So create small, easy steps. “An exercise habit could start with just wearing exercise clothes and doing five squats,” says Ashdin Doctor, who runs a podcast called Habit Coach on IVM. “The key is consistency. The golden rule is never missing two days in a row.”
The way to break a bad habit is to first figure out why it exists. Most bad habits are a crutch. “Smoking could be a crutch for loneliness. You could be excessively binge-watching for want of a hobby,” Doctor says. To break a bad habit, make that task harder to do. “Lock your cigarettes away and give the key to a neighbour.”
Use the time to network: Start by deciding whom you want to network with. Make a list of personal and professional contacts. Spruce up your LinkedIn and Twitter bios. Read up on how others, especially in your field or field of interest, up their networking game. Think of engaging content to post on your social media accounts. Your goal is to foster a community of like-minded people who see you as one of them.
Avoid the hard sell. Engage with content put out by others. Think of ways to be helpful.
Invest in a creative pursuit: Record a podcast, film your meal plans, do a make-up tutorial, revisit an old book draft on your desktop. Seek inspiration from an established blogger who shares an interest.
Take it step by step. Be regular; pick something you’re likely to do every day. It can be anything you’re good at — music, photography, needlework.
Become a better public speaker: This is something most people struggle with. Practise, talking in front of a mirror; expand that to videos you can post online. “Take polls on what people liked and didn’t like,” says YouTuber Sayali Tank. “Audience interaction is key. Make Q&A videos so it’s fun overall.”
Learn how to learn: As we grow into adulthood, most of us forget how to learn. That is how we lose the neuroplasticity in our brains. It’s one thing to figure how to use new software or tinker with an email app. It’s another thing altogether to learn something completely new as an adult. So, pick a task and set a 30-day plan. This is what children do so well. It could be learning to sketch, or doodle, speak a new language, or just learning how to cook the perfect white rice. Do it over and over. “You’ll see how flawed you were in your earlier attempts a week down the line and will improve exponentially between the first attempt and Day 7,” says Charles Assisi, author of The Aadhaar Effect and co-founder at Founding Fuel.
Give yourself an intellectual boost: Find the best podcasts, read on subjects you haven’t explored before — fiction instead of non-fiction and vice-versa. Engage, online and offline, even with people you may not agree with, to refine your own thoughts on a subject, and maybe even amend them.