The Interruption Opportunity

As the coronavirus is wreaking havoc with our lives, I have been reflecting on what opportunities can be found in this tumultuous time.

One powerful idea from my Integral Coach training is the value of an interruption. When we are living our normal lives, we are adapted to our current routines. We don’t see a reason to change our habits, because the risk of change feels more scary than holding onto our current state, even if that state is sub-optimal. In some sense, we are living on autopilot without even checking to see whether the autopilot is taking us where we want to go. But an interruption in our lives shakes things up, gives us an opportunity to look with fresh eyes at our lives, and consciously review whether our routines and habits are serving us.

An interruption can come in many forms. For instance, my coaching clients reach out to me after realizing they are not feeling fulfilled at their job, or after not getting a promotion they were expecting, or sometimes after getting the promotion and realizing that they are being stretched in new ways with more responsibilities. Interruptions can also be personal in nature, including a relationship breaking up, or a new baby, or breaking your neck in a bike crash. In any of these interruptions, we may find that our “normal” way of being is not serving us in our post-interruption context, and that can be an opportunity for growth.

While we can’t necessarily control the events or interruptions that happen to us, we can control how we respond to those events. One possibility is to reject the new context and return to our habits and routines from before the interruption; however, this may lead to complaints that things never change (because we don’t let them). Another possibility is to decide what we want to do differently after the interruption, or what experiments we can try to test out new patterns that might work better for the new context. I find that the latter choice is more empowering for me, but it’s up to each of us to decide how we want to live our lives.

With regard to our current societal interruption, I don’t want to minimize the suffering due to coronavirus. In addition to the hospitalizations and deaths, people are losing their jobs and are dealing with unprecedented disruptions to their lives. If you are in that situation, please take care of yourself.

However, if you have the stability and resources to get through the next few weeks and months, my question to you is what will you learn from this interruption? What will you take away from the experience, and do differently as a result? Since your life is being shaken up anyway by coronavirus, now is a time when the barriers to experimentation and prototyping might be lower. How will you take advantage of this interruption opportunity to update your routines and habits (a.k.a. your autopilot software) to serve you better?

Eric is an executive coach based in Mountain View, CA. This post originally appeared on his blog, where you can read lots more from him. 

Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

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