When I am working with clients who are going through a big life change like the passing of a loved one, divorce, or retirement, there is a common feeling among them. This is not normal. Nothing feels normal. What is normal anyhow? And yet, they all talk about getting back to normal or what will be the new normal.

I think this definition of normal really helps explain the appeal with getting back to a state of normal:

Normal: conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine

There is some comfort there, right?  Things that are known and routine typical leave us with a sense of safety and security. When we are in uncertain times or an unknown situation, I believe it is the human condition to crave that which is usual and standard.

And yet, the reality is we go through situations all the time that cause us to lose our sense of normal. If we choose to live our lives, then our definitions of normal will have to shift.

If we choose to live our lives, then our definitions of normal will have to shift.

It goes without saying, we are not in normal times. The COVID 19 pandemic has stripped us of our sense of normal.  We have been dealing with these unusual times for 10 months now. And what I am observing is we are tired of it.  We have pandemic fatigue – we are tired of being intentional and cautious and we are desperate for the return of normal. But being tired of the pandemic does not magically make it go away and as we are seeing, this trying to be normal has led us to have spikes in numbers again.

We have navigated a lot in these times. Notice that I do not say in this new normal. I do not want this to be the new normal. I do not want these restrictions and precautions to define my life going forward. Do your mental health a favor and reject this term of new normal. We have not arrived there yet.

What are we to do in the meantime? I was talking with a friend and telling her I needed a new word for normal because normal does not make any sense right now. She suggested familiar and this struck a chord. Here is a definition of familiar: frequently seen or experienced easily recognized. I don’t know about you but this idea of familiar is very comforting to me as I think about fighting the pandemic fatigue. We may not be able to have normal but we can have familiar. And there is comfort in familiar.

It is not the same level of comfort maybe as normal but there is marked improvement in my mood when I find that which is familiar. For example, my friends and I gather each year for the Overland Park Tree Lighting. It is a wonderfully anti-climatic event that we celebrate as if it was New Years.

This year it looked different. The lighting was held virtually and that meant someone stood in front of the tree on Facebook Live and streamed the lighting. So we bundled up, put on our masks and spaced out in the backyard of my best friend with the projector aglow. The fire pit was roaring and we toasted the beginning of the Christmas season. It was not normal but it was familiar and despite the restrictions and changes, it felt like we held onto our tradition and we were together.

Familiar: frequently seen or experienced easily recognized.

This idea of familiar versus normal can be applied to so many aspects of our lives. Chad and I had to cancel a trip to Greece this year and instead we went to the lake. Never ever would I have guessed I would have been as excited to go to Branson Missouri as I was this summer. But it was because vacations with Chad are familiar no matter where we are and I needed that sense of something familiar. Think about how you can let normal go for a little while and instead focus on familiar.

With your New Year, with how you spend your time, with how you spend your money and resources, how can you give yourself the comfort of familiar?

Jessi Chadd, M.S.F.S, CFP®, CeFT®, is a Principal at Aspyre Wealth Partners, specializing in life transitions. For help with your specific situation contact Jessi Chadd, at jchadd@aspyrewealth.com (913) 345-1881 or visit our website at AspyreWealth.com. We help successful people Master What’s Next® – whatever phase of life they are in. If you are ready to get organized and make your money work for you, let’s get to know each other and get started!

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