February 10, 2021 -

We will never go back

I have a recurring dream that I am back in high school. It starts out great with high fives to friends by my old locker and my favorite English teacher assigning a cool paper. But it always ends in a nightmare.

In the dream, I learn that I actually never graduated.

In the dream, my diploma gets rescinded because I never finished all my physical education credits. I hated PE. Which means my Bachelor’s degree is a farce. And my Master’s degree also built on a false foundation. Which means my entire career is predicated on a terrible lie.

I always wake up in a cold sweat wondering, did I graduate from high school??? Really???

And then as the dream fades, like they do (phew), I reawaken to the fact that there is no going back. I DID graduate from high school and, thankfully, I do not have to again endure ol’ Barnstable High School. My memories of those four years stand as just that, memories, both delightful and terrifying.

Last week we asked you about the future of work in a short survey. And you answered.

Thank you.

We are still sifting through the awesome data, but here’s the big takeaway.


How we worked before the COVID 19 global pandemic has shifted permanently in ways we are still figuring out. But one thing is crystal clear: returning to our old habits, patterns, rhythms, routines, and ways of completing work has shifted.


We find ourselves in a new landscape about work. What it means. Why we do it. And how we want to do it tomorrow.

Like my high school dream, when we wake up from the pandemic one day, we will realize that we do not have to go back to the way it was. In fact, just like high school, we can’t even if we want to.

So, what will it be like?

Last week I traveled for work for the first time since March. It felt so damn good to physically be with a client and feel their struggle. Being able to tangibly watch them lead together and contribute in person to their ideas and next steps was enlivening and reminded me why I love the work I do so very much. I finished our time together knowing in my bones that there are parts of my work that I will rebuild because it feeds me like air.

Contra the delight and richness of working near my clients, I also rediscovered travel food and missed routines. With new eyes I grieved the moments over the years that I’ve lost out on time with my family and friends. For me, I plan to permanently reshape the role travel plays in my work.

I came home wondering, what will I keep about how I work after COVID? And what will I easily let go as a memory of how I used to do it?

What about you? I would love to hear your stories beyond the survey. Just hit reply to this email and tell me. Seriously—I want to know! I read every single response personally, so let me in.

  1. In the world of your work, as we look forward, what things do you miss that you want to rekindle and rebuild as vaccination looms on the horizon?
  2. And, what will you jettison with glee because now you know, that is not how you want to do it?

P.S. I will share more specifics from the survey in future newsletters. We have extended the survey a week because the data is so enlightening—click here if you haven’t responded yet.


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