You have a choice.
You have a choice over how you will spend this unique moment in history.
Right now, most of us are in some version of a quarantine, self-isolation, or stay-at-home mandate. Like me, you have a choice over what you will do with this extraordinary block of time. And your choice is this:
Will you shut down, or will you ramp up?
You can use this unique moment in history as an opportunity to relax, chill out, and binge watch everything that Netflix has to offer. Or you can use it as an opportunity to learn new skills, to broaden your knowledge, to expand your world.
Here’s the thing some people seem to forget: This thing isn’t forever. There’s an expiration date. The tunnel, however long it may be, does have an end. So here’s my question to you:
What can you do now to set yourself up for success — personally and/or professionally — on the other side of the crisis?
Remember all those things you said you’d like to do if only you had the time? All those things you were saving for a rainy day?
- “Someday, I’d like to learn how to play the guitar.”
- “Someday, I’d like to learn French.”
- “Someday, I’d like to take an online management course.”
Well, congratulations! This is “someday”! This is that rainy day you’ve been waiting for!
And the good news is that there has never been a better time to be “stuck at home.” Because your home, right now, can be the greatest university on the planet. Your computer and internet connection provide an almost unlimited range of high-quality learning opportunities for very little — and in many cases, absolutely zero — expense. Here are just a few resources you may want to explore:
- coursera.org — Hundreds of college level courses in topics ranging from computer science to business to arts and humanities are available for free (including Yale’s massively popular “happiness” course, called The Science of Well-Being).
- pimsleur.com — For $14.95 a month, you can learn any of the most popular languages in the world. Learn French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Italian, German, and/or many more.
- thegreatcoursesplus.com — For $30 a quarter (just $10 a month), you’ll have access to 450 of the most popular courses available on economics and finance, literature and language, philosophy and religion, science, history, food and wine, music and fine arts, professional and personal growth, and many more.
- masterclass.com — Learn comedy from Steve Martin, acting from Helen Mirren, leadership from Doris Kearns Goodwin, scientific thinking from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, tennis from Serena Williams, writing from James Patterson, photography from Annie Leibovitz, and many more — all for just $180 per year!
- Virtual museums — You can visit many of the world’s greatest museums from your own home! Explore the British Museum in London, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and others for free!
- YouTube — Yes, YouTube has cat videos. Lots and lots of cat videos. But — and this may be a surprise to some people — you can actually learn thousands of new skills there! Want to learn how to play the piano, make balloon animals, meditate, knit, write computer code, play poker, perform CPR, learn the Socratic Method, do a cartwheel, or cut your own hair (which could be particularly useful right about how)? It’s all on YouTube (along with thousands of other skills), and it’s all free!
So look, I’m not saying you can’t catch up on The Crown, Mindhunter, or Stranger Things. We all need to unwind, particularly in times of uncertainty and stress. What I am saying is that right now you have an opportunity. An opportunity for what is up to you. You can treat this time as an extended vacation, and come out of it exactly the same as you went in. Or you can treat it as an opportunity to expand your horizons, and come out of it more knowledgeable, more skilled, and more valuable than you went in.
So…what choice will you make?