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SIGNATURE PAULA MAREE



IT’S TIME FOR INNOVATION!


Fear about the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. But, personally, I embrace this as a time of transformation and innovation. Perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but I actually feel that it such an exciting time to be alive!


Last week was one of the hardest weeks of my life. I’ve been stood down from flying and lost my dream job.

And my life certainly looks a lot different than this time last year, when I’d just returned from holidaying in Bali with my best friend. I’ve now finished my postgraduate university studies. I’m single, as I sacrificed my last relationship to continue to set my sights on the sky. Socially isolated in a physical sense, as I live alone and there are increased restrictions on leaving the house. And my dream to buy my first property this year has just been shattered, as I now need that money to survive.


It’s a weird world that we are living in at the moment and my grief and anxiety comes and goes in waves.

As a Flight Attendant, I keep waking up at 4:30am in a state of panic, thinking that I’ve slept through my alarm and am late for work! It all just feels like a bad dream. But then the reality sinks in. And over the course of the last week I’ve cried. I’ve been angry at the virus for ruining my life and I’ve mourned the loss of the thousands of people who have died. The extent of the health impact of COVID-19 finally hit me and I fear for the medical staff working on the front line. Doctors, nurses and hospital staff are working around the clock, doing everything they can. And I celebrate the life of Dr Li Wenliang, the man who tried to warn the world.


We are all staying safe in our homes and wondering when our lives will be able return to normal.

Yet, still I stand by what I said last week, in the post I wrote the day before my life changed forever (read that story here). The one thing that I am sure of is that we will come through this, changed forever and for the better. One of the hardest things that most of us find hard to relinquish is power. As an Australian, I am lucky to have grown up in a country which values freedom. I have always felt empowered to make my own choices in life. And this is something that many of us are struggling with. Especially now that we are confined to our homes and restrictions have been placed on how we go about our daily lives.


It’s easy to feel supressed and spiral into a negative mindset. I’ve certainly had my own share of down days in the past week.

However, there was one simple thing that I did on Saturday morning, which really made a difference to my mental health! Faced with so much uncertainty about my career and contemplating casual jobs, I took out my notebook. Then, I took a moment to reflect, before writing a list of everything I feel I can still accomplish this year. And this changed everything for me.

Suddenly, I felt empowered again, and after considering some new opportunities, I’m now bursting with energy, as there are so many things that I’m excited to achieve in 2020!


If you too are struggling to stay in a positive mindset, my advice to you is to take a moment to consider the new world in which we are living.

Then, decide where you want to channel your energy. Focus your mind on the things that you want to expand and take the power back! Just like any of leaders in a position of power at the moment, we didn’t choose to face the challenges that coronavirus has created. But we can choose how we respond. And for now, it’s a time for innovation.


Scientific studies show that it takes us 66 days to form a new habit, as James Clear writes here. And the one thing we do have at the moment is time to make some changes. With restrictions on how we work, how we socialise and how we shop for products and services, as individuals we’ve all had to make some adjustments. People all around the world are doing things differently. And many businesses have had to embrace innovation and change the way that they operate in order to survive.


According to The Astro Twins, who I referenced in my previous post, the last time Saturn and Pluto formed a conjunction was on November 8, 1982.

Coincidentally, this was around the time that I was conceived. Yet, what also followed was the birth of the Internet in January 1983, in a period of rapid expansion during the Information Age. Ultimately, the evolution of the Internet is what is allowing many of us to continue working, or learning from home during the coronavirus crisis. And history also shows that a market recession is often the best time for innovation. Many of the most successful app-based services, such as Uber, Air BnB, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Slack, Square and Venmo, were launched following a period of recession. And they are now disrupting established industries and forcing them into a time for innovation.


There are many things that we are currently doing differently during the coronavirus crisis.

Yet, it is quite possible that this will lead to permanent change, as city-based businesses realise how much time workers waste stuck in their cars, polluting the environment during their daily commute. And parents see how much they have been missing out on now that they have the chance to spend more time with their children whilst working from home.


Interestingly, only just over one year ago I was contemplating which mode of study to select for my university degree. Many people warned me that online study would not be seen as credible. Despite being facilitated by RMIT, an established, industry-recognised university, (which has one of the largest student bodies studying on campus here in Melbourne), people struggled to shift their mindset. Yet, now I hope that people will recognise that having the diligence to organise your time and drive your own learning is actually a very valuable quality to take into the workforce!


We all have the freedom to choose how we prioritize how we use our time.

Celebrities, politicians, CEOS and the average person all have the same 24 hours in a day to get things done. So time is not actually an excuse for not taking action to pursue our dreams! Some incredible advice I once remember hearing were words of inspiration from a woman who has taken the world by storm doing what it is that she truly loves. Jennifer Lopez speaks of her incredible work ethic, telling her fans,

“Find the thing you love and work harder than anyone else”.


For most of us, this is a fantastic time to make changes in our day-to-day lives.

And although I already miss my job, I’m also excited to have the opportunity to utilise the time that I’m not flying to expand my skill set. In 2020 I’d like to continue to create content and pick up some marketing work. I’d also like to complete some additional study, as you can always continue to learn. And I’d also like to expand my mind, by listening to podcasts in which other women share stories of how they built successful businesses from scratch through innovation and hard work.


One sector that will truly need to transform in order to survive this pandemic is the aviation industry.

Sadly, the airline that I currently work for will not survive this crisis unscathed. The airline as we know it has been shut down. Cabin crew in two bases have lost their job. And all of our pilots have been made redundant, which is incredibly heartbreaking, as many of them have been my friends up the front for my entire seven-year flying career. Yet, for now, we are all grounded and we do not yet know when we will return to the skies.


It’s been a testing week and tomorrow is truly a time of new beginnings for the hundreds of workers at my airline who have lost their jobs. Yet, above all, what this global health pandemic has taught us is that there is nothing more important than time spent with family, friends and giving back to the community. So it’s important to remember that this is a time for innovation in all aspects of lives. Personally, I’ve become a lot more passionate about learning some of the small steps that I can take to help save the planet through sustainable living. And when I do build a business in the future, I hope to encourage ethical practices and to empower underprivileged workers around the world.


In the meantime, I hope this post has helped you to take a few minutes out of your day to reflect on what you’d like to do differently in your life. We all have the power to change our future and to create a path to protect our children from the pain and suffering that many people are currently enduring. Remember that despite the current repression, this is a time to make changes to the world in which we’d like to live. It’s truly a time for innovation – and a time to create a brighter future for the rest of 2020 and beyond!




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