In the middle of December 2020, Germany went into its second lockdown. It seemed that people were more careless compared to March and April, when COVID-19 pandemic started, and we had to go into the first lockdown. Numbers are much worse now and reaching sad records every day. Too many people did not believe it (COVID-19) was true. The virus exists and is dangerous. They rejected the use of masks and gathered for demonstrations against measures taken by the government and have even been hosting so-called “Corona-Parties”.

Lockdown … There seems to be no German word for it, as everyone is using the English word, but it does not change what is behind it. I think the German word “Herunterfahren” fits best – it means shutdown: That is the shutdown of public life, limiting joint activities outside and inside, kindergartens closed, no education in the classroom, completely closing all kinds of entertainment, museums, restaurants, bars, party spots, hotels, vacation areas, theatres, operas, cinemas, concerts, fitness, and swimming centers. Our beloved German Christmas Markets were canceled, and New Years’ fireworks were not sold, and it was recommended that we not leave the house or gather in any way. The rules are enforced by police controls, and authorities are imposing painful financial penalties … in any case, it’s better than getting this painful disease.

All kinds of entertainment closed? Not really — we can take walks and play sports outside. There are a lot of things you can do at home: Refurbish, repair, clean, play games, do puzzles, listen to music, watch Netflix, and who knows, maybe we will have a baby boom middle of 2021!

But wait, there is more:

We started talking more to our partners, families, and friends; sharing our doubts, concerns, ideas, wishes, and plans on what we want to do differently once this pandemic is over. What will life look like? Will we be back to “normal” quite fast? What will stay, and what will change? Can we take some of the good elements that resulted from the situation into our life after? Some people defined a “new normal” after the first lockdown. Will they define an even “newer normal” after the second one?

I feel sorry for the year 2020. Almost everyone wants to press the reset button and start the year again, delete 2020 from the calendar. People want to forget and are looking forward to 2021. I received Seasons Greetings like I have never seen before. One said, “In spite of all adversities, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a hopefully better New Year for all of us.”

Takeaways from the Pandemic

We have a nice German word “Entschleunigung”, which means slowing down. It gives us more time to think, to look at the bigger picture, and to make decisions wisely. It is the opposite of “Beschleunigung”, the acceleration that drives us restlessly through the working day and even after.

Despite all the negative effects of the pandemic, such as people getting sick and dying from COVID-19, losing jobs and fighting for survival, parents that must manage family and job at home all in parallel, kids that can’t get the education they need for their bright future, and governments needing to take on debt in numbers that we can’t even imagine…. there are positive effects too.

First, we see that life continues, whatever happens, and we find a way to deal with the situation. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, and no, it is not the train that is approaching us at high-speed. We need to be optimistic, and follow the rules defined for us by our brightest minds — remember, there is always a team of great scientists and intelligent advisors behind each politician. Second, we see that the world is global and cannot be separated with walls. This is true for climate, economy, people’s right to live with dignity, and for viruses too.

Steffen Kröhnert taking time to enjoy the outdoors during the pandemic.

Steffen Kröhnert taking time to enjoy the outdoors during the pandemic.

I had time to read, study, walk and hike targeting 10,000 steps a day. I have never discovered my surroundings more and I have never been outside more than in 2020. That alone is a reason why I don’t want to delete that year from the calendar. I had time to take care of my house — something I have not done much during the last 8 years when I was “on the road” around 80% of the time, traveling worldwide for NANIUM, and later for Amkor Technology before I settled down with my own firm, ESPAT-Consulting, in Dresden, one of the most wonderful places to live and work. I took care of my health more than ever before, started training with a personal trainer twice a week, got a nutrition plan, which I follow — more or less. With restaurants closed, a regular day structure without travels and without heavy business dinners, liters of beer at Oktoberfest, and many cups of mulled wine with a shot at the Christmas Markets, it is definitely easier. You see, you just need to make the best of it.

Steffen Kröhnert

Steffen Kroehnert is President & Founder of ESPAT-Consulting based in Dresden, Germany. He provides a…

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