Lesson #86: On Finding the New Normal

by Rachel on June 1, 2011

So the lack of discernible seasons in Texas means I have no real concept of time, meaning I didn’t really realize it was June. It still doesn’t feel like it’s June even though the calendar is telling me it is. The fact that most of the country is excited for this thing called summer is really bizarre to me. When you don’t have school to break up the year and you don’t have seasons, life seems to go on in and endless loop where time doesn’t really exist. It’s really surreal.

Anyway, as it’s now June, I realized that — Holy shit, the year is nearly half over! I also realized that I haven’t set many monthly goals. I’m doing well with my New Year’s verb, but when it comes to monthly goals, I only set them in February and March.

So what happened?

Well, February and March felt normal, but there was a new job in January, April was devoted to moving, and May was pretty much sucked up by vacation and the new puppies.

So basically, I just avoided figuring out the new normal.

When my life feels like it’s moving really fast or that I’m dealing with things beyond my control, I often tell myself I’ll wait until things get back to normal to check off that next big thing on my to-do list. I don’t want to commit to anything because “I just need to wait until things get back to normal.”

“Then I’ll be able to [work out in the morning/write more/give up caffeine/go to the farmers market every weekend].”

Just a guess here, but perhaps you’ve told yourself the same thing?

Maybe you too have put off making a goal or changing some aspect of your life that you really want to change because you’re waiting for the day when everything will magically return to normal?

Well, today’s lesson is this: life in your twenties is constantly changing, so normal is constantly changing too. You have to keep figuring out the new normal if you want to get anything accomplished.

I mean, my life right now is so radically different than it was a year ago (and than it was six months ago…and than it was two months ago), I don’t even know what sort of normal I think things could get back to! But whatever it is, it’s probably unrealistic to think it will happen. Really, I don’t think any of our lives will feel stable or normal for any extended period of time, and the faster we get over it and start determining the new normal, the better off we’ll be. If we can be flexible and accept that things are changing and set new goals in the context of what will be normal for now — maybe a month, maybe only two weeks — then we’ll probably get a lot more accomplished.

So since it’s a new month, think of some new goals, but don’t let yourself fall into the trap that you can’t do certain things this month because you need to wait until things get back to normal.

And do share your new goals in that context!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christie {Nourishing Circle} June 1, 2011 at 9:14 am

The same is true for your 30’s ;)

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2 Manon June 1, 2011 at 9:35 am

I had the SAME thought Christie…..I think it actually got WORSE in my 30’s. I gave up a loooong time ago on ever expecting life to get back to “normal”. I have no clue wtf normal is.

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3 [SMASH] at Sweat. Style. Swoon. June 1, 2011 at 9:15 am

Good post. Yes, “normal” is definitely changing/evolving all the time. I need to keep this in mind, too. I’ve definitely said those exact words before.

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4 Katie June 1, 2011 at 9:20 am

Seeing as it’s just past midnight down under, I am officially beginning my last day abroad in Sydney. I’m going back home (30 minutes away from my college) and have to readjust to life stateside. I am going to really start training with running (no time to adjust to normal in regards to my fitness after being abroad) and balance the temptation of going out with the benefits of being healthy. I want to start my senior year off right!

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5 Alie June 1, 2011 at 9:21 am

I can totally relate to this! Broke up after a four year relationship and had to move twice last year and almost got a new job in a city I had never been to. Still trying to find my “new normal” routine but getting there! Puppies can definitely change your routine alot :)

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6 Bonnie Bucqueroux June 1, 2011 at 9:36 am

From the perspective of 67 years old, you would think I had normal all figured out. Yes, I have lived in the same home for 35 years, so that is a constant. And, fortunately, I have had a great, funny and entertaining man as my partner for the past 25 of those years. But life remains full of surprises. I am writing a book on how to cope with the coming disasters of climate change, peak oil and economic chaos, called Surviving Tough Times – and there are days I feel I should rush it because the new normal may well become on its way to becoming the next meltdown. I collect Social Security – what will happen once the politicians get through figuring out how to finance tax cuts for the rich and a few new wars. Two of my three dogs have cancer – and treatment for them could run into the thousands. What to do? I have invented a new gizmo and sent in my patent application a month ago – that leaves 11 months for me to prove it’s unique (and find the funding to produce a prototype). So it never ends. There’s always a new normal in such volatile times, and there is always the curveball life throws you.

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7 Jennifer June 1, 2011 at 10:21 am

Thank You. This was exactly what I needed to hear. I have been making excuses for myself by saying that once summer starts and life gets back to “Normal” I will be better at meeting my goals. But normal is not going to happen. Life is constantly changing and I need to adjust my glasses to take it in and make my goals work with my life.

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8 Kionda June 1, 2011 at 11:07 am

‘Normal’ is constantly changing for me. There have been times when I’ve looked up and realized “Whoa, this much time has passed!?” I then take into account the activities/goals and such I had done/accomplished during that time. Mostly, I get good feelings from my inventory, sometimes not. It depends. The changes in my norm keep me on my feet and challenge me to establish a different norm. A norm that fits me in that point in my life. It keeps it (Life) interesting. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

These check ins work wonders. :D

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9 Alicia at Poise in Parma June 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

It took me a LONG time to realize that there is no “normal”, so your lesson of continually learning to adapt is spot on. It took me longer to stop comparing myself to others’ versions of their “normals”: just because my friend runs an eight minute mile doesn’t mean my ten-and-a-half version has a lower value – just means they get there a bit faster, or I get to enjoy the journey a bit longer!

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10 Bridget June 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Oh, Rach, you nailed it on the head. I felt like grad school was all about waiting until things were “normal” again.

This month’s goal is the first stage of New Rules of Lifting for Women. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought my body was looking way too much like my mother’s. This is the month of strength training!

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11 Frances June 1, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Yep, I use that excuse all the time. As in, once things get back to normal, I’ll start exercising regularly, I’ll cut out cokes, and I won’t just eat chips and salsa for dinner.

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12 cindylu June 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Folks say there are no discernible seasons in LA and it drives me up the wall. Not sure what part of Texas you live in, but I’m sure June is different than January, October and March, etc. The climate is different obviously, so seasons will be different too.

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13 Rachel June 6, 2011 at 7:56 am

Well, there were three days in January when it was like 40 degrees and everyone freaked out and work was canceled and major highways shut down because of the ominous black ice. But other than that, it would be very difficult for me to step out of my apartment on any given day and say whether it is March, June, or October.

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14 Faren June 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I sympathize with this completely! My boyfriend makes fun of me because I always need my own time “to get organized” but my life is always so insane these days that I need my own personal time some days just to reflect on everything I need to do or have done in the past week. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one out there who is having a hard time with an ever changing schedule, life, etc. I’ve just learned you need to take things day by day!

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15 Hannah June 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Oh goodness, that is just how life works right there!
I’m always overthinking everything, or thinking about how certain things will affect me right now, and all that jazz. Change is stressful, whether it be good or bad. Lately I’ve been thinking about the woulda-coulda-shoulda thought process, and how I should just DO things instead of thinking about them so much. Your post pretty much just cements that idea in my head, because there’s never going to be a time where everything stops for you to make decisions.

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16 erin m. June 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Twenties = being a toddler all over again. The world is shiny, new and always changing. Roll with it and have fun along the way (which you’re clearly doing!)!

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17 Stephanie @ LoveLaughterLight June 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Have you read your horoscope for June yet from Susan Miller? I first learned about her from your blog and have been reading her since. I’m also a Leo and enjoyed indulging in it first thing this morning.

Happy June!!!

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18 Rachel June 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Uhhh YEAH! Need to re-read and plan my month accordingly…

Happy June to you too!

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19 Anna June 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I like this. LIKE.

I wrote a really similar post when I was studying abroad in Nairobi- I kept waiting for life to even out and normalize so that I could check some stuff off the to-do list, but it never came… because life in Nairobi is just generally insane. No one day is remotely like the one that follows. It wasn’t until I fully embraced this that I was really able to LIVE over there.

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20 Caitlin June 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm

“life in your twenties is constantly changing, so normal is constantly changing too. You have to keep figuring out the new normal if you want to get anything accomplished.”

SO needed this today. Thank YOU.

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21 jenna k June 1, 2011 at 11:18 pm

this is a great reminder for me! i’m kind of freaking out about not having found a summer job yet, not knowing what i’m doing after graduation in december, and not knowing what comes after that. not going to lie- it’s kind of unsettling that this change continues, but it’s good to hear advice on how to handle it!

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22 Alison June 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

“Life in your twenties is constantly changing, so normal is constantly changing too.” You are so wise, gf.

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