It has become a well-worn phrase our politicians, officials, experts, even family, like to lean on -- an ultimate, elusive prize.
Perhaps it's nostalgia for the world of January, a place where daily life more closely resembled our past decades. Perhaps it's a bid to show control, to revert to a time when change was not so universally imposed upon us.
But January is long gone, and it's not coming back. And, psychologists will tell you, that's only bad if you can't come to terms with it.
We are slowly learning if this year's changes are permanent. If work -- for the lucky among us -- will remain from home. If we will visit the grocery store less but spend more. If we will find wearing a mask on the metro to be just part of life. If shaking hands and embracing will become less common. If most of your daily interactions will occur via video conference (rather than in person).
"Five years' change in six months" is a common slogan for the pandemic. The disruption has upended lives in jobs lost and relatives who live alone or perhaps died without saying the right goodbyes.
Yet permanently severing ties with January is not necessarily a bad thing, psychologists say. The danger comes from hankering for normality again, rather than getting on with working out how to deal with whatever is ahead.
"Politicians who pretend that 'normal' is just around the corner are fooling themselves or their followers, or perhaps both," said Thomas Davenport, the president's distinguished professor of information technology and management at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
"People who suffer tragedies eventually return to their previous happiness level," Davenport said via email. "But I think that COVID-19 is a little different, because we keep expecting it will end soon. So there is no need to permanently change your attitudes about it."