Has the pandemic been rough for your personal and professional motivation? If not, that’s awesome. For me, and many of my colleagues and clients as well, it’s been like wading through quicksand- the sense of isolation, loss, and time distortion making it difficult to move forward, stick to a schedule, and be accountable. Some things I never worried about before became issues to be dealt with on a daily basis, and other things I took for granted became distant memories that came to elicit longing and sadness with every passing week they remained in the no-fly zone. See if you can relate to any of this:

· I am (was) a hugger. Of course, I always asked before I hugged someone, but these days, hugging is verboten. At first, when it seemed COVID would clip our wings for a mere few weeks or months, I was okay without hugs, but as the weeks and months turned into a full year, I find myself craving that casual, warm, expression of friendship, gratitude, joy, appreciation, and connection. When things open up again, I think I am going to make myself a t-shirt that says “Warning: May hug spontaneously.”

· I love (and miss) live music. I’m sorry, but podcasts, Zoom concerts, and playlists don’t replace being and listening to or playing live music. At least now there are outdoor and/or socially distanced shows cropping up from time to time, but the strange camaraderie of packing into a crowded stinky dark bar to dance and listen to a band remains a distant memory.

· I was always good about washing my hands but…I’ve been through more hand lotion and had more dry skin this year than ever. Better safe than sorry, at least, but geez!

· And, the weirdest one- I actually have started to miss in-person meetings. Just to see people, be in the same space with my colleagues and clients- at this point, I’d sit through a 3-hour in person meeting just for the company!

So what’s my point here? Missing things we once took for granted, adjusting our daily lives and activities to accommodate this new craziness, wondering when things will shift back to “normal- all of this takes up energy, although some of it is critical to process and adjust to the unexpected stuff that’s been happening. But there’s a point when all that “processing” gets in the way of getting things done- for me, the hardest part of the pandemic has been the isolation and the ability to procrastinate almost endlessly- I’ve never been a huge procrastinator, but this year, if there were a procrastination Olympics, I’d be on the top of the field.

As an overachiever, I have been frustrated with my lack of motivation to get up and DO STUFF, but I am starting to reframe all of this with the recognition that in a few more months, things will be ramped up again, even if some of it is still remote. I’ve started to see this crazy time as a forced period of mental relaxation- in the last year I’ve read more books, learned a new instrument, spent more time outside, reconnected with old friends, and made that recipe book I promised by fledgling adult children like, oh, 3 years ago. There are many silver linings here- I may not have executed on some of the professional things I hoped to do (for which there was no deadline anymore), but I have accomplished a bunch of “quality of life” things I always meant to do but was too busy working my keister off to accomplish.

So along with the gradual reintroduction of hugs and live music will come the work meetings, the planning sessions, the professional development exercises, that used to define (and interfere with) the real work I needed to be doing in my professional world. Part of me will be grateful for them, and that part will allow me to be more tolerant of those meetings etc. because of the series of “mental health days/weeks/months” imposed by the pandemic. I see now that the isolation and change in routine made me productive in other ways- I think I’m pretty ready to get back to business at this point, and will be a kinder, gentler me.

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Dr. Mary

Dr. Mary Coussons-Read, a Ph.D. in Psychology and an accomplished Professor and Higher Education Leader, brings extensive experience to her role as a Certified Professional Personal and Career Coach. With over 30 years of leadership and organizational development consulting in academic and corporate settings, Dr. Mary is well-equipped to guide higher education professionals toward envisioning and achieving positive change.

In addition to her academic background, Dr. Mary has a personal understanding of weight management challenges. Her transformative journey has inspired her to support successful individuals struggling with obesity. Through her expertise and compassionate approach, she helps them explore long-term options, including bariatric surgery or alternative strategies for lifelong weight management.

With her unique combination of academic knowledge, coaching skills, and personal experience, Dr. Mary is committed to assisting individuals in realizing their goals and making significant transformations in their lives.