This evening is the beginning of the Jewish New Year, otherwise known as Rosh Hashanah. Growing up, the holidays in my house were festive and important. We took time off from school and work, we gathered together in large groups of family and friends over multiple course meals, and we also got dressed up.
My LA-native husband used to ask me why my family holiday dinners were so formal. He chalked it up to being from the east coast (can we really call Toronto the east coast?!). I explained to him what my mother had taught me about life in general, not just the holidays: we dress up to mark an occasion as special, to help us separate the extra-ordinary for the ordinary, so everything doesn’t blend together. This concept seems especially relevant now.
As I reflect on the last 7 months I find myself with a distorted sense of time, it’s as if all my experiences have blended into a single overarching one.
The importance of breaking-up time, and creating distinct moments, is not just a helpful thing in our personal lives, but as a manager, I can see how helpful it can also be in our professional lives. Every Monday, my company reports on their “wins and woes” of the previous week, and every Tuesday, we have an all-hands meeting where we discuss progress against goals. Upon reading everyone’s updates this week, one thing was abundantly clear: my team was in a mid-month slump. They sounded uninspired and tired.
When we met the next morning, I scrapped our standard agenda. I told the team that I heard their struggles and that I didn’t know how to solve them, but I knew that reviewing company metrics per normal wasn’t going to help. We ended up just talking, sharing frustrations, and brainstorming solutions. Even though nothing remarkable happened, I could tell that everyone left the meeting with newfound energy and resolve.
Changing up our routine was like dressing up for my team. We were able to create and define a moment together, and that made all the difference.
And so, it got me thinking, even if this year I will be attending Rosh Hashanah services remotely and my large celebratory dinner will just be me and my husband, it might be even more important than normal to dress up. These days, we can all benefit from embracing opportunities for celebration; and, even more importantly, we need to mark specific moments so when we look back at 2020 we will have distinct memories from what has been, and will continue to be, a very memorable year.
Wishing everyone a sweet and happy new year filled with health and happiness!