The Projects and Dreams the Pandemic Took Away: How to Face the Future

May 27, 2020
Many of our projects and dreams fell apart in the midst of the current pandemic. We're told about the new reality, but we miss our old reality. What strategies should we apply to face this situation of change and uncertainty?

The philosopher Heraclitus said that change is the only constant in life. However, sometimes, these changes come abruptly, ripping the here and now in two. That’s what we’re experiencing now, with all those personal projects and dreams the pandemic took away, and the goals that are now all up in the air.

Most of the small changes and alterations we experience in our daily lives are, for the most part, manageable. Sometimes, we even see them coming and prepare for them. At other times, however, adversity arrives unexpectedly and we realize we’re not prepared, as we have no strategy or support in place. It arrives, it strikes, and it totally immobilizes us.

This way, the current coronavirus crisis, just like a hurricane, swept away the ideas and projects we’d started or even nearly finished. It took away all the goals and objectives we had invested time and effort in.

So, at present, all those ideas, projects, and dreams just ended up in limbo in a strange antechamber. Many of them have ended in nothing and they’ll never come back.

The world is telling us that we have to prepare for the new normality, while we just yearn for the “old normality”. What can we do in this situation? What psychological strategies should we take into account?

Personal projects and dreams the pandemic took away

Even if we don’t have research or studies that can tell us the best way to handle the psychological effects of a pandemic, we know what we’re likely to face.

Research on natural disasters, wars, or other highly adverse situations tells us that about 10% of people end up suffering from serious psychological conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Columbia University and Dr. Levy Galatzer wrote an article in 2018 that demonstrated that a strategy can cushion that effect: resilience.

Experts say that one of the effects of this pandemic will undoubtedly be depression, and that many people are going to suffer from it. However, there are some keys to minimizing that effect. We should think about already putting these strategies in place, to be able to make tentative steps towards the future that awaits us – towards this “new reality”.

Adverse events such as the one we’re all experiencing can either paralyze us or motivate us to face it and take action. One thing we must be clear about is that difficult times don’t automatically make us stronger.

Resilience isn’t an automatic pilot that suddenly takes over when things go wrong. Your attitude, willingness, and focus can set that attitude in motion. So, faced with all those personal projects and dreams that the pandemic took away, you’re left with just one option: to act, respond, and reformulate. Let’s see how you can do this.

Acceptance, a time of mourning for everything you’ve lost

It’s impossible for you to plan, think, or prepare projects when all that fills your mind is anguish. One thing you’ll need to be clear about in this current situation is that the pandemic is forcing you to process many types of grief. Our society isn’t only suffering human losses.

Your sadness, anxiety, frustration, and fear are compounded by those personal projects that the pandemic has taken away. You have to, in a way, mourn for those projects and accept the new reality, dealing with the emotional knots that often immobilize you.

Life is a journey, not a destination: you have to keep rebuilding

The pandemic isn’t your destiny but, rather, it’s just another part of your life cycle that you’ll have to accept and deal with.

You’ll have to live with this new scenario for a while, but, at the same time, you’ll start to visualize a new tomorrow. This health crisis has forced us to put your reality on hold, that’s true, but life goes on, and you must move forward with it.

What you do today will mold your tomorrow. Yes, it’s true that many of your projects have vanished like smoke disappearing through an open window. But remember that you’re still part of that room. What you need to do is open more windows to the future, windows you never thought were there. You have to rebuild, and that means doing the following:

  • Reformulate and adapt your projects to the new circumstances. You can do this by being creative but also realistic.
  • Accept the uncertainty and the fact you don’t know what’ll happen tomorrow. Instead, focus on the parts of your life that you can control. Focus on yourself, your attitude towards the future, and your willingness to adapt to whatever comes along by being skillful, vigilant, and hopeful.

Resilience relieves the loss and helps you look to tomorrow

There will be no way of getting back many of the personal projects that the pandemic has taken away. The wound and the pain will sometimes be too much to bear, and it’s a collective pain.

The impact of this health crisis is undermining so many of society’s foundations worldwide. You aren’t alone but it’s also true that only you can pull yourself out of the abyss.

Resilience is like a psychic tendon that will allow you to mitigate the effect of trauma. You’ll do this by acting and not resigning yourself to the current situation.

This is a situation that demands action, both mental and behavioral. You must accept it and act. You have to manage the distress but also clarify what purpose you want to achieve tomorrow.

It’s certain that there will be days when your mood and desire will fail you but that’s quite normal. However, you must train your mind to act and overcome and to leave behind what no longer makes sense, in order to create new perspectives, new plans, and even a new, stronger, and more creative self capable of creating its own future. Let’s start now!