What’s Normal?

People often talk about things returning to normal after the pandemic. Most of the people who have suffered fundamental change in their life, offer a different view.

The old normal is not recoverable. You have to create a new normal and adapt to it. There is no going back.

What is the old normal you think you would like to recreate?

It could be the old normal was merely a comfortable habit, and not necessarily desirable. Ellen Goodman is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Her thought:

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”

That’s pretty cynical. But it does contain some truth.

An option you have in making the decision about returning to normal is to know what you value. Know what you would choose if you had a clean slate. The dream solution. Question what parts of old normal cost things you want and what things it includes you could do without.

You should consider what a personal reset would look like if you could do it. There will be obstacles. You will need to make decisions about whether the payback for change is worth the price.

Consider H.L. Hunt’s approach:

  1. Decide what you want,
  2. Decide what you are willing to exchange for it.
  3. Establish your priorities, and
  4. Go to work

Some questions:

  1. Can you decide objectively what you want? Dreams are nice, but they won’t survive the second question. Life is about tradeoffs. Be sure you have sought something that you can trade for?
  2. Could you develop several options for what you want? That’s how tradeoffs work. A somewhat imperfect dream is better than fumbling around to no effect. If you must have the support of others, spouse usually, it will help to have options. There will be a fit somewhere. Options also identify ways of moving pieces from dream to another.
  3. How long do you have to put it together? Immediate is too risky. You cannot be sure of your wants and how the allocation of resources should work. Allow evolution to work on your behalf. It is common to discover a fine solution that is not included in your initial assessment.
  4. Are you aware that most of old normal was the result of habits and default decisions. Part of your new normal should contain a continuing re-evaluation module. The idea is to prune things that aren’t working early on.

How much of the current situation must be retained for external reasons. What do people expect of you? Do you or shuld you be concerned about that.

William Least Heat-Moon wrote about traveling and he found something important if you want to change normal.

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s mind. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”

It is not just about how the future will be. There are connections from the past you must address. How much of your past are you willing to carry forward and how much not.

The takeaway

This is a very complex circumstance. Frightening even. Work it through using Hunt’s approach. You may find the old normal is not so bad and minor amendments appear and allow you to perfect it.

Another Least Heat-Moon thought, “The past is for the present, the present for the future”  Take care to notice the past does  not commit you to the future. Avoid that trap.

You might enjoy the book, “Blue Highways.”  An Amazon comment, “Blue Highways is like a mug of hot coffee on a chilly morning. It is warm, reassuring, and thoroughly optimistic. A sense of freedom, of curious exploration”

That’s not such a bad foundation for rebuilding your normal.

I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email don@moneyfyi.com 

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