Winter Survival Guide 2020/21 - FEBRUARY

Previous posts can all be found here. Follow along on Instagram @fjcoaching for regular nudges.

All the themes I’ve chosen seemed important and relevant at the time. None more so than this: the theme for February is CONNECT.

Things to think about

The notion that we were able to cast off all the challenges of 2020 and leave them in the ‘old’ year was compelling. January included a sobering (literally for those of us who embraced the ‘dry’ part) realisation that in many ways things were going to get harder before they got better, even though there may be cause for optimism in the medium- to long-term. One of those things is the ongoing postponement of personal gatherings and in-person connection. At best you might be comfortable planning more of this for the second half of 2021, however that feels a long way off in terms of the daily routine, the births and birthdays we’ll miss, the shows and events we won’t attend, the ceremonies and milestones that will pass quietly.

‘Remote’ or distanced communication is a challenge. You miss so much nuance of expression and body language. On the plus side, we’ve had some practice at it now. We certainly know how the tech works (have you learned to switch off ‘self view’? Seriously, no-one needs to spend that much time staring at themselves), we know that something is better than nothing, we know that little-and-often is more comfortable than hours in front of a screen. Some people have fully embraced a return to simple telephone calls. In both December and January I talked about the joy of sending and receiving a hand-written greeting or letter, and that’s certainly something to carry forward into this theme and beyond. I had no plans to see some dear friends who happen to live in Omaha (‘somewhere in middle America’, as the song goes) however we’ve had some long and entertaining video calls over the locked down months, which has been a complete delight and I hope is a new habit to sustain.

This will sound obvious, but most of the effort is literally in deciding to connect, albeit in a new way. Once you’ve made the commitment to do so, the rest is actually pretty straightforward. If you’re reading this you have some sort of device, on which calls and messages cost no extra. And if you have one of those, you can almost certainly afford the cost of a postage stamp.

It’s not a substitute, of course. Think of it like scaffolding – sturdy, dependable, serves a purpose, and temporary. When it eventually comes down the building beneath will not only still be there, but will be fresh and revitalised.

Things to do

You have 10 minutes?

Write a note to someone you admire, no matter how popular or ‘big’ you perceive them to be. You loved their book, you appreciate their posts, you followed their recommendation. A little, private ‘thank you’ by email or text, whatever platform you prefer. I'll start - the pavlova in the picture above was (imperfect and) amazing, thanks to Nancy Birtwhistle, a former Bake Off winner and all-round Good Egg. I'll put a note out to her today. As an aside this also ticks Indulge and Create - I love it when a plan comes together ;)

You have 20 minutes?

Put pen to paper. Who has a birthday this month? Who needs a postcard? A few thoughtful words and a walk to the post box.

You have 30 minutes?

Call that friend/sibling/parent, yes even that tricky one. Starter question: how are you doing? And then just listen.

You have 45 minutes?

Browse for a gift to send. ‘I saw this, and thought of you’.

You have an hour?

Write a letter. Yes a proper, actual letter, oh so old-school! Talk about you, ask about them, describe your plans, what are you finding hard, what are you looking forward to, what have you learned this last year? Like a written version of the ‘Reflect’ theme from October.

Tools and resources

-         UK people, try Eco-Friendly Cards Shop or for a huge range of greetings cards, or materials to make your own.

-         Here’s a nice common-sense column to remind you why connection matters

-         And another one

-         Send your favourite book of last year to a friend, or pick from these bestsellers if you’re stuck: Bestselling Books -