This is the Way the World Begins….Not with a Bang

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Part 1 – Pre In Person Conference Thoughts

And so it begins, not with a bang, but with a whisper. Yes, I know the T.S. Eliot quote is “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper” but like so many Agile Best Self things, I want to reframe a famous idea or quote.

I am getting ready to go to a conference. IN PERSON. Gasp! To put this in context for readers, I left my house about once a week in 2020. I haven’t seen Brian, my Agile Best Self co-creator, in person in over 14 months. It is May 2021, and I still only leave my house about twice a week. Even though I’ve had both Moderna vaccine doses, I kind of like staying home.

I knew this day would come. The day I get to decide intentionally which social events I attend, which I skip. The day I get to test my new mindset and only do things that energize me and make me happy.

It is not going well. My laptop has a fine layer of dust on the outer cover. Nothing disgusting, just a gentle reminder that I had pushed it to the back of my desk about a year ago, and it disappeared under the standing desk I use for my work laptop. And now, seconds after I started it up for the first time in a year, I have to restart it to install new updates – for about 30 minutes. Arggggh. I had to replace the batteries in my remote control.

This is an inflection point, and important turning point. As we all decide what we want our new realities to be, there are dozens of decisions we have to make. What do I want to keep from my pandemic life? These are the habits I want to keep:

  • Morning walks
  • Dance parties of one (three if you count the dogs). Perfect for waking up, cooking, cleaning, fixing things, etc.
  • Building out my garden
  • Being 99% vegan
  • Connecting with friends all over the world
  • Digging into the neuroscience of change and health
  • Getting rid of non-essential things in my life

These are the new habits I want to build:

  • A productive and satisfying office / home office balance
  • Going out to restaurants
  • Being intentional about taking ‘me time’ when I need it
  • Connecting with old friends – especially those I drifted from when I was married
  • Traveling to meet my new friends – those that I used to see once or twice a year at conferences and are now my epic 2 hour long phone chat friends

Part 2: Post-Conference Musings

Back to the conference. It was surprisingly easy to go to a small, in person conference of less than 80 people in a large conference hall. Some people wore masks, some didn’t. All were respected. The comradery in the room was palpable.

Half way through the day, many of us had removed masks and were chatting with the other attendees. I could feel the pull of pre-pandemic habits. At conferences, for me, that involves hugging old friends and getting into interesting conversations with people I don’t know. I was glad that many choose to remain masked, because that was a reminder to me that COVID is still out there. We are not merely coming back from a vacation, weighing a few extra pounds, great stories and weird tan lines.

I get the double whammy of going through a rather highly socially-isolated pandemic at the same time I rebuilt my own personal life. I’m not complaining; just noting it has been an interesting and sometimes disorienting process. Anyone who has split up from a long term partner knows that many old habits are held in place by that relationship, not necessarily by an individual’s need. And that is ok. It was just surprised to learn how many decisions I automatically ran through the filter of: “what will my partner need/want/think”. And based on conversations with friends of mine who have ended long term relationships, we’ve all gone through this.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to readers that I use these Agile Best Self posts to organize my thoughts and think through things. Usually, this is where I can insert an Agile Best Self principle to tie my situation back to our overall mindset framework. Today I’m having a little trouble making clean lines. So I’m going to mash them all together.

In order to be my best self (being a connector and a catalyst), I’m committing to double dip into curiosity and investing in myself via daily healthy habits. Those habits include engaging my trusted circle and science to create a motivating, supportive environment; being mindful and intentional – especially around doing what energizes me and helps me “be” more instead of “doing” more. To keep it all going, I’m going to keep weaving in the principles and share what I learn through the overall alignment process.

As I put each principle puzzle piece together with the others, an amazing image is emerging. It is frequently astounding how much Agile Best Self has impacted my life. Compared to 2018 when Brian and I met, my life has changed for the better in almost every possible way. I’m a better parent; my job is more gratifying; my personal relationships are better. And I wasn’t starting from zero. Things were already going well on most fronts. Most significantly, I’ve been able to embrace optimism and build emotional resilience in a way I did not know was possible. Looking outward, as Brian and I continue to inspect and adapt, we have created podcasts, new tools (aka: the Intention Canvas) and have over 6700 views in 75 countries. More importantly, more and more people are sharing that our principles and mindset are having a positive impact on their lives.

I’d welcome any stories about how you have used our work to improve your life or cut through the chatter! What new mindset at your creating? What new results are you seeing?

Copyright © 2018 – 2023 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by MichaeleBestSelf

Connector, Catalyst.

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