Today is the day of resolutions and planning…of reflecting on where we’ve been and deciding what our priorities are for the coming year. In the midst of the lockdowns, many have had the opportunity to slow down, spend extra time with grown children, explore new hobbies and reignite old passions. Sometime in the (hopefully) near future, the widescale lockdowns will end and the luxury of time at home will come to an end. And for some, that may mark the beginning of regrets when they look back and realize all that they shoulda-woulda done while at home. What’s on your list of shoulda-woulda’s? Make 2021 the year of no regrets. Here’s a little inspiration for you.

“What are you doing with your time?”

That was my question to a massage therapist friend who was telling me that he is essentially unemployed right now due to the COVID-19 quarantine. He wasn’t complaining—simply stating the fact that he currently had no income…but lots of time on his hands. He also was telling me about other career dreams he has been considering to augment his services.

What a perfect time then for him to begin to research those other areas and skills…to plan his expanded services…to dream about where he wants his career to go.

Many people have written and posted about the quarantine’s silver lining as providing an opportunity to connect with spouses and kids in ways that we can’t during the hustle and bustle of our overscheduled lives. Cooking and sharing family dinners. Lots and lots of family walks. Game night. Puzzles. The list of ways that people are reconnecting is fabulous, and it goes on and on.

But there’s another level, too.

How many times have you wished that you could have a break from all of those weekend—or midweek—obligations? How many times have you said to yourself, I wish I had time so that I could [your wish goes here]. Well, for those who aren’t working, that dream has come true (and I acknowledge the very real stresses of diminished finances). And even for those who are working from home, there is no more commute and no more spending weekends on assorted social obligations.

That means you now have time to ponder and pursue some of those “if only I had the time” wishes.

Of course, there is the attic and basement to clean out…and those photos that have been waiting to find a home in albums…old papers to purge and cabinets to straighten.

But this is also the chance to rekindle your love of music or art—both of these are perfect therapies for this stressful time.

For those who have stocked their pantries, it’s a great time to try new recipes—try combining it with your travel fantasies and have international-themed meals.

Never have there been more opportunities for distance learning on any and every topic—whether it’s a foreign language…the history of the Civil War…how to knit…plan that herb garden you’ve always wanted.

And, like my friend with new life aspirations, is there something that you have been dreaming about either professionally or personally? Now is the perfect time to start outlining what that might look like and the steps required to get there.

Historically, when I talk to people who have resigned from their jobs to start new ones, I ask them if they are taking at least a few days for themselves in between. Aside from school vacations once exams have been completed…and the time after graduation when you have received your first job offer but before it has begun…we rarely have time to pursue those “one-day some-day” projects or to regenerate emotionally, physically and spiritually. As I said above, this is one of those rare moments when most of us have that time available. (Needless to say, the great exceptions to this statement are health-care workers and millions of other essential workers who are tirelessly keeping our infrastructure going.)]

At some time in the (hopefully) not too distant future, we will be released from our house arrest and return to life, changed forever. I am hopeful that the change will be more toward the good than focused on the new fears of germs and sickness and physical closeness. Don’t look back on this time with regrets at what you wish you could or should have done. Instead I hope it can be a time that has built the foundation for your transformed future.

Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast,  where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life. 

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