During the last several weeks, we all heard the term, “essential workers.” Our government asked each of us to shelter in place—except those people with essential jobs like medical workers, grocery store clerks, shipping services and deliveries, gas station staff, and the like. We couldn’t even go get a haircut or eat out at a restaurant. Only the bare minimum.
The unintended benefit from all of this was it forced us to consider what was essential.
People like me were quickly reminded that sports, movies, and other entertainment were not essential to live. Ugh. I love games. I love movies. I love entertainment. Most of us began cooking our meals more often at home, tending to household chores more regularly, and even taking care of spring cleaning. (My home office now looks marvelous.)
As we go shopping in our community, we’ve been asked to buy only what’s essential, and not hoard the toilet paper, meat, or sanitary wipes. In fact, in all purchases, many Americans had to learn to recognize what is essential and limit our purchases to these. Millions of us have indulged in amenities and even extravagancies that we never noticed. We had to stop.
We got back to the basics.
It struck me the other day—I hope I never go back to my life before the coronavirus, in some ways. By this I mean, I hope I can separate what’s essential in my life and what’s a luxury. And I hope I never again assume I need certain “creature comforts” to get through my day. I am walking several miles every week. I am driving less. I stopped drinking coffee. I am eating smaller portions at mealtimes. The COVID-19 pandemic became a sort of “life coach” for me.
And I am focusing on my strengths.
I am home with my essential wife and enjoying time with her. I am writing and creating content that I hope is relevant and helpful to others. I am enjoying the hours in my day, instead of racing through them. I am drinking in the “process” not just the “result.”
I am becoming a person who’s doing the essentials. I’m an essential worker.
Ask Yourself These Questions
To do this well, I’ve had to answer these questions well:
- What do I really need to be my best “self” today?
- What should I eliminate that only drags me down?
- What equips me to steward my time best and get the most out of it?
- What can I do to become life-giving to people today as I interface with them?
- What elements in my past days should I move to the “luxury” category in my mind?
When we answer these questions well, we become our own version of: “essential workers.” We do only what is essential to make life better. We stop wasting. We begin investing.
My sweet mother in law, Jackie, called my wife (and her daughter) Pam last week to talk. She lives in a retirement village and the staff there agreed to bring food to each resident, but only what was “essential.” Jackie told Pam that she tried hard to limit herself to essentials. With a smile, she asked, “Are peanut M&M’s essential?”
They both agreed they had to draw the line there. Of course they are essential.