Empathy is central to Life Design, and in the Life Design Lab many of our workshops and programs ask participants to spend time reflecting on their life. Whether they are tracking their Energy-Engagement, logging their Good Times Journal, or just spending time thinking about their values, skills and interests, our students learn that building their life in the future requires them to reflect upon and better understand their life in the present.
The current pandemic has complicated this process, as all of us are now living this strange double life. We have our life pre-COVID-19, with all of its joys, frustrations, promises, and challenges. But we also have our life here in the COVID-19 present, very much real, and yet very much ephemeral. Eventually, as if waking up from a dream, this COVID-19 life will end, and we will be forced to return to our old life, which no doubt will have been altered in the intervening months.
Over the next several weeks (months?), I think Life Design needs to account for this reality and we as educators need to ask our students to empathize with both of these lives. For students currently sheltering in place, COVID-19 has offered them the opportunity to step off the treadmill, to reconnect with family, to revisit old interests and explore new ones, and to reflect upon the path they had previously been on. How do they feel about their life during this time? Which experiences and insights from their COVID life do they want to incorporate into the life that they will build? At the same time, they can’t stay at home forever and will need to resume some version of their previous life. What aspects of that life are worth preserving and building upon? What aspects of that life should be left behind (or has already disappeared)? How do they marry the best of their pre-COVID life with the best of their COVID life to build their post-COVID future?