Some great ideas are born in lockdown. For many, there is finally the time to think, cultivate and plan - but following through with action takes something else.
Time away from your usual schedule can be a great time to set goals, form habits or create change. But making sure habits are good ones rather than bad is key, discovers Kirsty Wynn.
The endless weeks stuck at home in 2021 have delivered time for self-reflection that has seen dozens of small businesses launched, careers reassessed and some pull away from a Netflix binge to get fit, change their diet or assess their alcohol intake.
For Auckland mum Corinna Homer, lockdown 2021 gave her a wake-up call in the form of a candid photo of herself at a good friend's pre-lockdown 50th birthday.
"I was on stage singing and I was in my element. I felt amazing and I thought I looked great but I looked at the photos the next day and I was shocked, I was mortified because it was a candid shot - I didn't look at all the way I felt.
Corinna's late husband, well-known radio personality Tim Homer, died at home from a heart attack in 2017.
"When Tim died I masked the grief with drinking and eating. I am now dealing with that and feeling guilty that I have taught our children those habits," Corinna said.
"One of the major issues for him was obesity and when I saw that photo it was the wake-up call I needed to be a good role model for the kids and to ensure I am around for a long time."
Corinna's boss kickstarted the change when she gifted her 10 sessions with a nutritionist.
"Seeing the nutritionist for me was life-changing. She is like a life coach but with specialist knowledge of macros and what my body needs."
"I had a body scan just before we went into lockdown and it said I had the metabolism of a 58-year-old."
"I'm 44 so bringing that number down was a big motivator for me."
The full-time event's producer said forced time at home over lockdown gave her the opportunity to make her own lunches, plan family meals and dedicate time every morning to exercise.
She scrapped the glasses of wine with dinner, started eating cleaner and "smashed out" regular 15km walks to tick the fitness goals.
The family's emotional eating that came from losing a husband and father was slowly replaced by non-food rewards.
"I still feel a lot of guilt for some of the unhealthy habits we had got into but we are slowly getting there, eating better and making our own takeaways."
Corinna reduced her weight by more than 12 kg but she was even happier with the "off-scale successes" like getting into a too-small skirt.
Even better than that, she said her mental health improved.
"My nutritionist knows what I need to eat and she changes it up when I stop getting results. I am never hungry and I have so much energy," Corinna said.
"Of course everyone wants to look good but the biggest benefit of all of this has been my mental health and that happiness trickles down to my kids."
Corinna's Instagram page The Corinna Project @corinna.gets.it.done has made her accountable to family and friends.
On that very honest page, she celebrates her wins and is upfront on bad days.
"I know I am only halfway through this journey but I have started it and I want to keep going.
"I love the analogy of needing to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others and that is what I feel like I am doing."
Lockdowns have been tough for a lot of businesses with a record number closing their doors since April 2020.
For Invercargill woman Carla Hendry the sudden level 4 lockdown in August 2021 hit just as she launched her business.
It could have spelled disaster but Carla used the opportunity to build her online audience with more people at home and online.
Carla launched her gift hamper business Olga & Elle after suffering three miscarriages in a row in 2019. Her goal was to help others who had suffered the same loss.
Carla found professional support was lacking for early pregnancy loss and people often didn't know what to say.
"I had a daughter already so people would say - 'well at least you have her' or 'you can try again' but that didn't acknowledge my loss," she said.
"I wanted to launch a business to give people something to give to someone who had experienced the loss of miscarriage so they didn't have to say anything."
With no marketing or business experience, Carla found a local mentor and researched getting a domain name, email hosting, building a website, and how to maximise SEOs.
She used lockdown to call local suppliers offering artisan goodies that fitted with her ethos of socially responsible and environmentally friendly products and packaging.
Beautiful New Zealand-made candles, facemasks, wheat bags, soaps, lip balms and sweet treats fill the care packages.
"I thought of all the things that would be nice when you are grieving or recovering and I looked into New Zealand businesses that could supply," Carla said.
Carla had a baby boy in the middle of setting up her business which was an emotional time.
"I ended up getting pregnant again and that caused anguish as well because I was so scared I would miscarry. I wasn't able to enjoy being pregnant," she said.
"I was paranoid and didn't let myself get connected to the baby."
The birth of baby Roman saw a postnatal care package added to Olga & Elle's offerings.
"Having had two children now, you realise how important postnatal care is. Everyone coos over the new baby but the mum's body and emotions are all over the place," Carla said.
"It's nice to steer people into thinking about a gift for mum rather than the baby. Babies don't need much about mum and dad."
Carla's business is online only and is advertised on Chooice and through Facebook.
The business went live two days before New Zealand went into level four lockdown in August 2021.
Lockdown meant Carla had time to build her audience and social media profile as well as care for Kora, 3, and newborn Roman.
When Carla starts earning enough profit from her miscarriage care packages she will start gifting care packages to women who have suffered early pregnancy loss at her local hospital.
"I know from my experience there is very little support out there for early pregnancy loss and I would like to do my bit to help change that."
Ready for change? A coach can help.
Personal development and business coach Adair Good said business has boomed for her since the pandemic hit.
Each day brings another client needing advice on how to change their career, start a business, or make a significant lifestyle change.
"People realise some of these changes are too big to manage alone and are seeking professional help and assistance," she said.
"Some of these changes are being done to us and others are changes we are making of our own choosing."
Good set her own goals during lockdown and added a therapist qualification to her skills.
"A lot of people seeking to make professional or personal change actually need counselling and therapy before they can start," Good said.
"I realised I could be a much greater help if I was able to provide this service as well."
Here are her 6 tips on managing change:
1. Acceptance is key to managing change.
With covid we need to accept that life is different now and we need to adapt to a new way of life, working from home, online learning, covid tracing, vaccine passports, for instance, are all new situations that we've all had to adjust to. The quicker you accept change, the smoother your transition.
Businesses that recognised the need for change early into Covid and pivoted to keep operating have survived. Others sadly have closed their doors.
2. Change is constant:
Only concern yourself about the changes that affect you right now and change the things you have control over and don't stress about the rest.
Park the things you can't control this will alleviate any stress you might be feeling about the change you have no control over. Just focus on the things you can control.
- If you need help discuss it with someone you can trust.
3. Make a plan for change:
Have a plan A and a plan B; it's important to build in a contingency in case things change again.
Make a list of what you will need to do to make the changes required. Try to break it down into logical steps, this will make it much easier to handle.
4. Ask yourself key questions before making any changes:
Will I still want my life to look like this in one year? in three years, in five years?
Visualise your future: What do I really want my life to look like? This is where you paint a compelling picture of what you do want.
Think about this in the form of the following categories: personal, relationships, financial, professional, physical & spiritual - write down in as much detail as you can, it's helpful to be specific about what you want.
5. Don't change everything at once
Make a list of those things that you want to change (or need change) and prioritise what's most important right now. Change only those parts of your life that are necessary.
Ensure you are settled with any major change that has happened, before making any other changes.
Consider those who may be affected by any change you make and communicate with them.
6. Be kind and patient with yourself through the change process:
Be aware of your emotions during this time and allow yourself to feel whatever you feel.
Managing change makes us more resilient and able to handle future change if needed, as inevitably things will change again. Being ready and resilient for change in your personal or professional life is a major factor in living a fulfilled and happy life.