Eight years ago, when packing my bag for that daunting Camino De Santiago walk, the weight quickly added up to more than 20kg. I had no idea what it would mean to carry 20kg over a distance of 800km. Fortunately, a good friend of mine helped me reduce it to the absolutely essentials, weighing 10kg.
As you can see from the picture above, I got it down to 3 T-shirts + 2 shirts, 3 undies, 3 pairs of socks, and 2 pairs of walking pants + a jacket. Combine this with a tube of travel-detergent and a few personal items, and that was all I took. What you see proved to be sufficient for a 4 weeks pilgrimage, during which I honestly did not really want for anything. The big lesson I learned was which material things are truly essential.
What do we really need? Not that much.
As we are all more or less confined at home at the moment, I thought why not apply this lesson to “life in lockdown?” We have some time to reflect on what needs to go in our backpack for day to day living during the crisis. After all, there are a lot of things we can’t do or have that we are used to doing and having. So, let’s look at what’s really essential?
Assessing my crisis-living backpack, I looked at the 4 pillars of my life compass,
which is a simple tool to plan and manage personal priorities for the year. Here is what I came up with:
1. My Health
Staying safe and healthy is clearly the number one priority for myself and probably most of us at the moment. Despite being “locked-down,” I meditate regularly, try to eat healthy (aside of the occasional chocolate binge), stay away from alcohol, and go for runs and walks as much as Boris Johnson & Co allow.
I can’t play football, which is something I truly miss and hope to get back into my backpack of life’s essentials very soon.
2. My People
This area offers the biggest surprise to me, as I feel strangely much more connected to “my people” despite no opportunity for connecting face to face. The one person I now spend literally 24/7 of my time with is my wife Anne. While this lockdown has clearly not always been easy, I feel my relationship with her has grown stronger and deeper. I truly admire her for putting up with me being on the edge at times and still cooking the best food available in town. She supports me despite struggling with her own challenges. Thank You Baby!
Outside of home, I stay in touch with my family via a WhatsApp group and I have reconnected with several old friends. I established a weekly “Skype-Stammtisch” with two good old buddies. We have probably talked more in these weeks than in the several years before. Those connections are something I truly treasure and look forward to every week.
I also participate in a weekly mediation group, which sits together quietly for an hour every Saturday morning, and despite not communicating (much), the connections give me so much strengths and support. I feel grateful for all these good people out there, who somehow seem closer than ever before.
I am very thankful for the encouragements from “my people.”
3. My work
… is tough!
Many of my clients (and friends) are struggling severely with the economical and personal impacts of the crisis. It hits me really hard at times when I see how quickly well-established firms, careers and businesses are threatened to the core. It breaks my heart to see so many lives being on the brink financially, not to mention the health risks.
But doing my work as a coach also gives me a routine, and I am thankful to use my time meaningfully, trying to make a difference as much as I can by helping and supporting others. I have also witnessed some truly magical moments. People have inspired me by facing these tough times with positivity, optimism, and a sheer unbending will. Well done guys. Keep rocking!
I think I probably neglected myself the most, realizing painfully last week that my tank of personal energy was (nearly) empty. Dealing with a crisis is tough and requires a good balance, and so, moving ahead, I pledge to create
more regular “Forrest-Gump-Moments” for myself.
On the positive side, I noticed that my financial spending being reduced to a bare minimum has shown me how much can be enough.
Digital media helps. I experienced the magic of a 72-year-old teaching me new guitar songs via Zoom. Thank You Ralf!
Yes, there are many things I (we) can’t do at the moment, but honestly speaking, my “crisis-backpack” of life’s essentials seems to serve me quite well. I am surprised of how little I need.
So, to wrap up, I want to ask you:
- What do you actually really need?
- How well does your crisis-backpack of essentials support your health, people, work and personal self?
- What are you really missing at the moment?
- And what will you continue to leave out of your backpack when life resumes?
There’s no better time to ask these questions than now.
Stay safe, healthy & connected.
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