What if you went from freedom and independence to confinement in a small, locked room, where windows don't open, where people bring your food, and where you and your family must wait out the requisite half-month till you're cleared of disease?
Changing address in time of pandemic came with a host of upsets to James's otherwise ordered routine. In this solo episode, he shares what he endured in hotel quarantine, and what you can do to stay sane under likewise difficult conditions.
In this episode:
01:07 – The setting and how we got here… This episode comes to you from an unusual place.
03:49 – A difficult thing to adjust to. James gets real about the experience.
05:04 – The lead-up, and quarantine. It was a challenge that unfolded over several months.
09:28 – Lessons from the whole experience. Here’s what James took away, and what you can as well.
12:35 – This goes for business, too. What works for 14 days quarantine can do great things for your business.
15:09 – It’s all about perspective. How you look at a situation can determine if you stay sane.
Today’s episode is interesting, because it comes, not from James’s usual recording space, but from a hotel room where, at time of recording, he and his family are on the 11th day of quarantine.
The setting and how they got here…
The room is small, with no opening windows and no balcony. James shares the space with his wife and their two-year-old daughter, Lucy.
James winds back four or five months to how they got there.
Sydney’s second lockdown began in June. Masks were mandatory going from one’s front door to their car. Childcare was an affair of temperature checks, sanitizers, QR codes, standing on the X; then the teacher would take the child away.
Everyone was home. Where there used to be three to five people surfing, there’d now be 150.
In that cold, dark period of lockdown, James decided it was time to move into a house, closer to his parents.
He and his wife found a property, and applied for a permit to move interstate. From outside Australia it might sound odd, but in AU state borders were locked, and the only allowed mode of transit from one state to another was by plane.
This required a permit, and a 14-day hotel quarantine at their expense. They paid for the food sent them, whether they wanted it or not, and it was mostly rubbish, sugar and carbs. James took to ordering out during their stay.
Everything was expensive – the airfare, the transport for their cars, the removalist, and of course the luxurious stay in their boxy little room.
A difficult thing to adjust to
For someone used to a great deal of freedom, it was challenging to be herded around the airport and shuffled onto a bus. Once in the hotel room, James asked if there was an option for a balcony or an interconnecting room. It was no to both. They could apply for a room change after five days and testing negative for COVID. James did and got denied.
It was the first time he’d felt that penned in since leaving his job. As an entrepreneur he was used to having freedom and controls.
The lead-up, and quarantine
They’d sent their stuff ahead on the third of September, and they flew to Queensland in October. So for a month they got along with the bare minimum: a couple of frying pans, a futon bed, a surfboard and their car. No couch, no TV, not even an office chair. James did his work on a blow-up ball, using his iMac.
Then there was no childcare, and they had to work around that. It was the most basic version of business James had experienced for a long time.
Their first application for a permit was denied, because they weren’t flying in 72 hours. They organized their flights and tried again. Queensland shut their border for two weeks. When they reopened, James applied early. It was approved after another two weeks.
In the 11 days they’ve been in quarantine, it’s been hard to get any work done. Clients have moved appointments, and James has resigned himself to having things on hold.
People call up to ask if they need anything. A balcony or fresh air, James says, and they can’t do a thing about it. He suspects they call to prevent people committing suicide.
When he’d read about such things on Facebook, he hadn’t understood how people could be so affected. Now in the same situation, he can acknowledge the intimidation and fear others might feel. Hotel quarantine is not something he’d recommend except for the mentally strong.
James hasn’t told his parents they’re coming, and he does look forward to surprising them. It would be fun for them to realize they’ll actually spend the holidays together. He may have to do a follow-up episode and update.
Lessons from the whole experience
Because it was so hard to get work done, James has pushed out some of his to-dos till the end of the year. He still hasn’t worked Fridays and Mondays, because he doesn’t want to. And he’s discovered his clients are amazing, flexible people. Let’s just catch up when you’re out, they say. They actually care, and want to know how things are going.
After losing his bed to the removalist, James has realized how important sleep is. Making do with a futon, he can feel his energy, resilience and focus have dropped by 20 or 30 percent. He cannot overstate this: Get good sleep. Sleep is the core for everything. It affects your mood, your productivity, your ability to bounce through challenges.
Know your real friends, he says. His real friends followed up. They asked how things were going. They were actually thinking of him, as he did of some of his friends who have also been through quarantine.
James’s team is incredible, he says. They’ve been seamlessly running for the past few months. They will take this video, and while he babysits they will edit and publish it and put it out there. They’re miracle workers and he wants to thank them.
He didn’t miss social media. He’s stopped posting to Instagram, and apparently Facebook has gone down while he was away. It’s a huge lesson in OwnTheRacecourse that he hasn’t missed a thing.
“You don’t need much stuff.”
You don’t need much, James has learned. They’ve gone months without much stuff. He’s been living out of a small suitcase of T-shirts and a few shorts (big shout out to Keel Surf Supply). When their stuff went ahead, before they travelled, they went to the beach and the park every day. He’s been blessed with more family time than at any time ever in his life.
Stay strong, he says. Setbacks are inevitable. After at least a decade of no drama, this is a hassle. But he chose to move, to hopefully be in a better scenario, and there is pain on the way there, as there is when you do anything useful or worthwhile.
This goes for business, too
It’s the same with business, says James. If you want a fantastic business, you have to pay the price, put in some effort, and sacrifice along the way. It will not be gifted to you.
“If you want a fantastic business, you have to pay the price.”
James will be reengineering his business. He’d like less calls in his schedule, something he may work out for himself in 2022. And he wants to take things to the next stage – not an iterative version of what he has, but something altogether new. So he plans to whiteboard his business and go fresh.
Enjoy the pace, he says. If he was in the Maldives, he’d want things to go slow. In quarantine, he wants the opposite. We can warp our perception of time. Being at peace with just letting time pass is a real skill, something he’d like to teach his two-year-old. But she’s already content doing something for hours, which is great.
“Enjoy the pace.”
A reasonable episode published now is better than a perfectly-planned episode later. James wanted to publish this now, two-year-olds and everything. It’s real and he wants the message out, as much for himself as for the listener. It’s a sort of therapy.
Remember you are strong – they won’t break you. James can still get his own food. He has an exercise bike, he’s staying fit. He sits in the sun in the afternoon. He’s been through much worse, and we’ll all get through this. Just remember you’ve got all the mental strength you need.
It’s all about perspective
Bottom line is perspective. You have only to turn on the news to see people having it tough. When you feel a bit down or sorry for yourself, remember that you’re probably very fortunate. If you have food and shelter, and you’re reasonably healthy, you’re much better off than the vast population.
Hopefully this episode inspires you or helps you through a tough patch. James, the guy with no drama, who surfs every day, still has the occasional speed hump.
James wanted to make this episode for you. Here’s hoping you have a good end of the year.
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