Take values uncovered by pandemic into new normal

Posted 5/28/21

Same ocean, different boats,” is how Dr. Betsy Spomer describes the COVID pandemic experience. Everyone had a similar experience, yet it was different for each individual.

“There were …

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Take values uncovered by pandemic into new normal

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Same ocean, different boats,” is how Dr. Betsy Spomer describes the COVID pandemic experience. Everyone had a similar experience, yet it was different for each individual.

“There were so many different experiences,” Spomer said. “It depended on where we live or what industry we were in. I’m most aware that everybody’s experience is different, even in the same household.”

But, she said, the pandemic also caused people to slow down, and during that time they could perhaps highlight things that were important. For instance, there was more down time for some people so that they could exercise, or think. There were things they realized they missed when they were unavailable, like human connections, whether one-on-one, like family and friends, or universal connections, like being out at an event with a large number of people.

“Some people experienced more loneliness, and missed friends or family, missed hugging. Zoom calls can’t satisfy that,” Spomer said. 

Those peaks and valleys, she said, were good information to mine and bring forward into a post-COVID existence. It will help determine what to prioritize and what things might need a shifted focus. 

“The gift of slowed-down time is we can ask ourselves what were our peak moments or highlights over the last year,” Spomer explained. It basically can teach us what we value.

Spomer is a family practitioner, life coach and a hospital consultant who teaches reliance and well-being for health care professionals. 

She said that when people return to their new normal, there is the opportunity to bring what they learned as they return to work and to make those values a larger part of the big picture.

If, for example, caring for yourself by exercising is high value to you, before COVID it might have been something that was done after work or on the weekends. It is the same with spending time and energy with family and friends. Those items essentially got what was leftover after work or a full day with the children.

If a shift is made now, and more emphasis placed on high value relationships and endeavors, it changes what that person brings to their work. Rather than giving what is leftover at the end of the day, the excess joy and energy found in those high priority undertakings spills over into the workplace. 

“I really love the idea of everybody knowing what their values are and living them intentionally,” Spomer said. “We are our best selves in that moment.”

To employ the concept, she suggests thinking of those outstanding moments from the pandemic, good or not. From that a list of values, perhaps four or five, can be derived. Then those values, whether they are family, exercise, creativity, service or something else, can be used to focus life as the nation returns to more normal days.

“What are your top values? Are you living a value-led life?” Spomer said. “It will give you more joy and help with big decisions.”

“How do I balance who I am with what I do and integrate it? If you lead with your values, let them inform what you do,” she said.

Know too, that life/value balance is individual and will change throughout life. What is high priority when there are small children in a family will be less predominant in an empty nester scenario.

If someone is at a job where they simply endure the work, even if they are good at it, they are not bringing their best self to that job. Maybe that person places high value on service to others and might be better suited to a different industry where they are more able to serve. Or perhaps they will spend less time at work and more time volunteering. 

Those changes, Spomer said, spill over into almost every aspect of life and the intentional living of those values will make work — and life — richer, deeper and more fulfilling.

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