Lockdown for Future Leaders
The impact of Covid -19 is being felt everywhere and by everyone, and times have never felt stranger for those who are early on in their career, just about to take the next step along their vocational path. Typically, although of course not always, people in this situation will be classed as ‘Millennials’, being the group of people born between roughly 1981 and 1996 – me. We are the generation that has experienced half our life without smartphones, social media and even the internet, and the other half being expected to keep up with the regular launches of new gadgets and a lifestyle that has come with the development of technology. We spent our childhood and teenage years without the invention of the iPhone, but now use Uber and JustEat daily. We are brushed with the generalisation that we have no sense of permanence, have struggled to buy houses and have no savings. All things that do not bode well when a global crisis hits. Then, we are the principal advocates for working remotely, having a side hustle, starting and ending our days when it suits us – things this pandemic has forced to become commonplace, as we sit at our laptops positioned on our dining tables, and think of ways to make extra money after taking a pay cut. So how do we fit in to this new reality, when we have been so keen for our working practices to be how they are now, but when we have spent our adult lives creating a fleeting lifestyle with little stability?
I have worked really hard for ten years to be the best I can be at my job, giving the best service to our clients and to reach the top of the career ladder as quickly as possible. Everything seemed to be on track, with a real sense of continuing growth and satisfaction at work. Then came Covid-19. Then came lockdown. It exists as a huge full stop on all my plans, hopes and dreams, as the firm made changes to our team and the way we operate. Like everyone, I have set up camp at home, desperately trying to manage the total lack of separation between work life and home life. It feels as though overnight career progression has become a distant memory, while we all fight this battle.
Couple this with living a life that has no contingency plan. My daily routines, habits, financial situation, social calendar all launched out of a plane without a parachute. I am used to having things instantly, having for dinner whatever I fancy that day, filling weekends with pub gardens and restaurants with friends, and ignoring the alerts as I get close to my account balance, because who cares? Another month, another pay cheque. But all of that is gone for now. I have had to resort to social media, something I am never quite sure if I really enjoy, just to feel a human connection, other than saying hello to strangers as I make sure I am at lease 2 metres from them on my daily walk.
Reading this back, I feel less hard on myself for being unmotivated over the past couple of weeks. There are quite a few reasons to feel disheartened. The old mantra that someone is always worse off than you, while essential to remember, sometimes just can’t cut through the sad nostalgia for this time eight weeks ago. But then I tune into one of our twice daily team catch up video calls. I send an email to a colleague who I haven’t spoken to for a while. I write an article, complete a piece of work I have been putting off. I have lunch at 1pm and shut the study door during non-working hours. I get in my car and go to a supermarket, and it turns out meal planning actually saves time and money. I FaceTime my family. I feel a revived sense of commitment and loyalty to my colleagues and our firm; we are all in this together. And all of a sudden lockdown isn’t so bad after all. That transient way I lived, the panic at not being able to control my ambitious career plans, none of that matters. While this is all temporary, I hope that some of the new ways of life I have been forced to embrace, rooting and certain in a time when nothing is certain, stay with me forever.