The lockdown and quarantine restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic came upon us quickly. Within a few weeks, all of us found ourselves at home isolated with an abundance of time on our hands. While times were challenging, they did offer one important silver lining. They provided a notable disruption in our daily routines and invited a chance for us to embrace change. In essence, they gave us a perfect opportunity to develop some good habits while getting rid of some bad ones.
As we adjust to life after lockdown, however, we risk losing the good habits we practiced while in quarantine. New cooking skills, home exercise routines, and closer relations with family will once again be threatened. As our lives resume old activities, old habits are likely to resurface making it hard to maintain our good habits. But there are important steps we can take to help us safeguard the gains we made. All it takes is a little anticipation and planning as well as a willingness to adapt to change.
Some Insights Regarding Habits
As you are likely aware, bad habits can be difficult to break. Despite a desire to change, we often find ourselves falling into the same bad habit traps repeatedly. Interestingly, however, the pandemic made it easier for us to embrace good habits in many instances. The reason this occurred is because many of the familiar cues that kept us in our bad habit rut were no longer there. And in their absence, we chose to try some new activities and improve our lives. (For more on how people of turned times of adversity into opportunities to excel, check out PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success by Ed Kopko.)
Unfortunately, those same environmental cues that triggered our bad habits will likely return after lockdown. While they were out of sight, they were out of mind. But when they return, so will our temptation to revert back to our old ways. Therefore, it takes effort to ensure the good habits we recently adopted remain a part of our lives after lockdown. This requires more than wishful thinking. In fact, it requires that you take several steps to help safeguard those healthy habits you value the most.
Step 1 – Find Your Motivation
The good habits you adopted while in quarantine were fueled by some specific motivations. If you cooked more meals at home instead of takeout, then you might have enjoyed cooking or saving money. If you exercised more, you likely valued your health or the weight loss that came with it. In order to maintain these good habits after lockdown, it’s important to know why they are desirable from the start.
Step 2 – Identify Obstacles After Lockdown
Despite appreciating the reason you wish to keep your good habits, motivation alone may not be enough. In all likelihood, social restrictions during the pandemic removed some key obstacles that had been in your way. Lack of time, lack of energy, competing demands, and other excuses suddenly vanished. But after lockdown is over, these obstacles will once again return. Exploring which ones are most relevant is important when trying to preserve your positive life changes. This helps you plan accordingly to make their impact less significant.
Step 3 – Pave the Way for Success
Understanding motivations and obstacles, you are now prepared to pave the way for success. For example, if lack of time is anticipated as a barrier to good habits, try new ways to be more time-efficient. If activities after lockdown are likely to interfere with your preferred routine, choose a different time to perform them. The key is to make it easier to maintain your good habits by reducing barriers and boosting motivations. Strategic steps in the right direction can help you significantly in maintaining the good habits you wish to keep.
Step 4 – Prioritize and Schedule
In addition to minimizing barriers to your success, you can also improve your chances by creating a schedule. After lockdown, new demands will compete with the good habits you’ve adopted. But it’s important to examine these demands in relation to the new habits you’ve embraced. If your good habits take priority, schedule them into your day like you would any other appointment. Create reminders, alerts, and blocks of time for them. If you can keep them as part of your daily routine, you’ll likely enjoy greater success.
Step 5 – Lean on Newfound Supports
During the lockdown phase of the pandemic, you likely found new resources and supports to get you through your day. In some cases, these supports encouraged you in your pursuit of good habits. Calls with old friends, virtual fitness instructors, and group video-chats became part of your social structure. Understanding their association with your good habits, you may want to lean on these same supports moving forward. After lockdown is over, there’s no reason you can’t rely on these same resources. These are often quite helpful in making such a transition.
Step 6 – Be Realistic and Forgiving
With dedication, planning, and effort, you can maintain the good habits you acquired during your days of social isolation. But without question, bad habits will want to creep back in after lockdown as well. In this regard, it’s important to be realistic and forgiving of yourself as you again try to adapt to change. Being too rigid will only serve to frustrate you and exaggerate any disappointments. As a result, this can lower your incentive to adapt. Instead, appreciate the gains you are making and build on them. This will be more fruitful in the long run.
Taking a Look at the Larger Picture
Maintaining good habits in life and ridding one’s self of less desirable ones is something we should all pursue. But it’s important to understand that there’s no specific endpoint. The pursuit of the bold life means always trying to be your best and to realize your potential. In this regard, we learn to adapt to change as best we can. And in doing so, we improve each and every day. By trying to maintain good behaviors in your life after lockdown, you are honoring this pursuit. But as always, the journey offers much greater value than the destination itself.