Ask Colin: Purposeful

Hey Colin:

I’m doing a lot better than many people I know right now. I work from home and I have great clients. What happens when I’m done with my present batch of projects is uncertain, but I’m feeling very blessed right now.

Even so, I’m also very stressed and am having trouble focusing a lot of the time. I’m worried that I’m not doing enough, that I’m trying to do too much, and that the world is falling apart and I’m just doodling around on my computer, doing things that don’t matter except that they help me pay my rent.

Any advice on this? I guess I’m mostly just hoping for some perspective?

In good health,


Hey Patrice-

I hear you. I truly do.

I suspect a lot of other people feel the same, with varying specifics, but a lot of the same end results: stress, anticipation, worry, and silver linings that we try to focus on with unreliable levels of success.

I’ve been hearing from a lot of people around the world, of late, and even the folks who have suffered substantially more than you or me seem to be mostly keeping themselves together, watching out for the good stuff and latching on to those positives so that the negatives are more tolerable.

Hearing many of these stories, I also worry and wonder about what else I might be able to do, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that, for many of us, the best, most fundamental effort we can make is to stay healthy, help others do the same—through our behaviors especially, including avoiding becoming accidental vectors of disease-spread—and keep our wits and health about us so that we’re in a position to help if and when other opportunities to do so come along.

There are other things that some of us can do based on our skill sets and our circumstances: I’m attempting to double-down on providing resources and community to people wherever possible, and doing what I can to help out older and immunocompromised friends and family, locally, with their errands and such.

Others may be able to donate skills and resources to help spread important information and supplies, provide education and/or entertainment to those who’re under lockdown, or even just be a friend to someone who’s experiencing health issues, job issues, or loneliness.

It is important to recognize, though, that baseline survival—being well, mentally and physically—is the prime directive here, and managing that for ourselves and our loved ones should be our main focus. Lacking that healthful default, the rest of the system kind of falls apart.

And don’t worry that what you’re doing, how you’re spending your time, is meaningless.

Yes, much of what many of us do seems a little silly when compared to, for instance, healthcare workers taking care of patients, and folks stocking shelves and delivering food, helping to keep us individuals and our communities from panicking.

But everyday people doing their thing, contributing whatever it is they do well to society, is part of how we get through this.

Such work is good in the sense that it helps you pay the bills and provides your clients with something that they need, but it’s also good in that it keeps the economy ticking along, maintaining a sense of normalcy that might otherwise be lacking if we suddenly didn’t have good graphic design, blog posts, handmade jewelry, and all the other things that don’t directly influence a pandemic, but which do help solidify the foundations upon which our society is built.

So do what it takes to be well, individually, first.

If you have more to give, figure out what makes sense to share based on your resources, skills, and reach.

Watch for opportunities to help in the future, and continue to make sure you’re in proper shape to do so when such opportunties arise.

And remember that we’re in this together and that we’ve all got important roles to play: even when our contributions don’t seem to directly tie in to those frontline, disease-fighting efforts.

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