The New Non-negotiables

Published on May 6th, 2021

We were in a pet-friendly hotel in Kansas when the fire alarm went off at 3 AM. Even without her hearing aids in, our 6-year old could hear the defining sound while the alarm light beamed brighter than a flashlight towards our beds. Disoriented, we rounded up and stumbled out the door. A cat in the carrier. A dog that was so nervous he pooped on the floor. A pregnant wife. A kiddo in PJs. And me, trying to remember every detail of what would be a funny story (someday). The move to Oklahoma during Covid19 was not easy, yet we have all lived to tell the tale.

“I would never in a million years do X.”

We’ve all said things like this. And yet, amidst a global pandemic, many of us found ourselves in unusual circumstances taking extraordinary actions (sometimes having no other choice). Colleagues were forced to stay in other countries. Mothers met their children with hugs separated by a plastic film. Kids converted the kitchen table into class, and parents converted cars into home offices.

An estimated 3 million kids dropped out of school. Opioid and alcohol usage skyrocketed. Parents that lost everything had to find new ways to put food on the table. While many people thrived in the new normal, many people were pushed beyond their limits, and they capitulated.

It’s ok. I’m not here to blame and shame. We all faced extreme adversity, and that doesn’t always turn out well.

Instead, we need to acknowledge that boundaries were broken, even if it was necessary at the time. Now things are getting back to a healthier baseline, so it only makes sense to create new boundaries (even if they are a recreation of old ones).

Instead of a new normal, we need to establish new non-negotiables. I, for one, am getting back to writing, working out, and my spiritual practices. All of these were abandoned at some point or another while trying to survive the pandemic. But I miss them. I need them. Without them, I’ve felt abnormal for quite some time.

What about you? Is it time to re-establish these routines and rituals into your life? What do you refuse to live without now that we no longer need the refrain “flatten the curve”?

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CXO of Atomic Form. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.