Back in March, the world “lockdown” was a new and – for some – exciting word. No work? No having to leave the house?! There commenced a blissful few months of lie-ins, bread-making, discovering new hobbies, and YouTube yoga
The second time round, the novelty has most certainly worn off. After months of uncertainty, bad news and back-and-forth, we’re slowly realising that lockdown was not just a one-time event, but a necessary way of living that we may be going in and out of for some time to come.
The good news is, we can choose to view our lockdown time – however long or recurring it may be – as something positive. An opportunity to learn. It’s totally okay if you don’t do anything productive, because your only job is to stay safe and healthy. But if you’re feeling that itch to accomplish something, here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Make a bucket list
For so many, 2020 has been a big year for reflection. In close quarters, the things we didn’t like about our jobs, homes, relationships and habits have become impossible to ignore. Now is probably the best time imaginable to figure out what you really want from life. Have you been talking about driving across the States for years? Going back to University? Bungee-jumping? Whatever those far-away dreams are, now is a great time to reconnect with them. Set an hour aside to write a bucket list for the post-2020 world. After all, research shows you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.
2. Update your CV
When was the last time you looked at your CV? For many of us in long-term job roles, it’s been years. As a follow on from the above, putting pen to paper has a significant and positive impact on our mindsets and likelihood of success. By updating your CV, we don’t just mean adding in the singular latest experience or promotion you’ve had. We mean looking as honestly and objectively as possible at your life and career goals, and revamping your CV to align it with them. There are tons of online tools to help you with this. This Guardian article provides some good in-depth tips, or if you’re a more visual learner, try this YouTube guide.
3. Build a mood board
This decade’s positivity movement has been all about visualising, attracting and affirmations. Whether or not you believe in the mystical side of creating the life you want to live, mood boards have been proven to lend all sorts of psychological benefits, and they’re also really fun to make! Make the vision of your dream life material by arranging images of your desires onto a poster, cork-board, or a digital PowerPoint or Pinterest board.
4. Write a novel
Okay, we realise a 50,000 word epic takes a little longer than a month to write. But everyone has a story. Why not tell yours? The old axiom ‘write what you know’ is still the best advice out there for aspiring writers, and the theory that ‘every first novel is autobiographical’ means you can’t use the excuse of ‘I don’t know what to write about’! Don’t fancy fiction? A memoir is something that may never be published, but will be a treasured and fascinating read for your children, children’s children, and maybe further generations. Even if your life has been quiet and uneventful, 2020 has given more than enough material to get started with!
5. Start a blog
If the above sounds a little daunting, why not start small? Despite being around for over a decade, the popularity of personal blogs show no signs of slowing down. You might choose to write one as a hobby or within a niche, or you might want to go for the big leagues by combining it with some SEO and pushing it out to broader audiences. it doesn’t have to be for the eyes of others – it can be just for you. Blogs are an awesome way to practice journaling, which comes with invaluable mental health benefits in these strange and difficult times.
6. Discover your podcast personality
Although podcasts have been around for donkeys’ years, their gradual rise in popularity has been painstakingly slow. As a result, there are heaps of us who still stick to music and radio while we go about our chores and travels. Finding a podcast that fits your rhythm might take some experimenting, but whatever your speed – whether it’s comedy, education or discussion – it can be so rewarding.
7. Start your fitness journey
We all saw friends and acquaintances on our Facebook feeds getting annoyingly buff during the 3-month long Spring lockdown. They kind of had the advantage there – there was plenty of time to rest, indulge in lie-ins, snacking, and laziness, then to start their diet and exercise plans, and then to stick to them long enough to see results before the lockdown was lifted. This lockdown, we’ve got less time, but we’re also at an ideal time of year to get in shape. It’s a rare type of human who doesn’t put on a few pounds over the party season, and there’s no reason not to indulge after working hard all year. But you can get a jump on the January weight-gain blues by preparing your body for those Christmas calories. Use this psychological quiz to work out which style of exercise will best suit you.
8. Establish a skincare routine
A few minutes a day on YouTube or TikTok can change everything you know about your skin. For guys and girls, whether your complexion is young or mature, dull, dry, normal, sensitive, or acne-prone – now is an amazing time to up your skincare game so you can emerge into post-lockdown party season with a new and noticeable glow. A few search terms to get you started on your journey: retinols (for anti-ageing), lymphatic drainage massage, oil cleansing, and chemical vs. mechanical exfoliation.
9. Sort out your finances
This is another one where the power of the internet compels you to take action. The sheer volume and accessibility of personal fintech apps leaves us with no excuse. Many of us put off financial housekeeping for months or years at a time. It can be nerve-inducing to face your finances head on, not to mention tedious and time-consuming. But apps like Plum make it much more fun to set up some savings, whereas an hour or two a week spent on moneysavingexpert.com can boost your financial health across anything from credit card debt to slashing utility bills. Read more about the apps that can revolutionise your personal wealth and stability here.
10. Learn a language
You’ve probably heard of (or tried) Duolingo – the basic, all-ages language learning app that teaches you foreign vocabulary and gives you cute gold medals when you sign in every day. The latest language-learning craze, however, is Memrise – an immersive teaching app that uses thousands of clips of native speakers, recorded from their various lockdown situations across the world. A fantastic and engaging way to connect, learn, and enrich yourself with new lingual and cultural knowledge.
A key thing to remember when embarking on any of these personal missions is that starting is the most important phase. Diving into something expecting yourself to be perfect will only lead to demotivation and abandonment of your goals. Start small. Change one habit a day. Spend as much time as you need reading, learning, preparing, and practising. We've said it before, and we’ll say it again – your only job in lockdown is to keep yourself healthy and safe. Anything else is a bonus.