As 2020 comes to a close, it is natural for many to feel hopeful about 2021. We now have a promising vaccine in response to the COVID-19 virus which has, for the majority of the year, dictated how we redirect and lead our lives. We have had a tense Presidential election with significant emotions surrounding the process and the event. Other local, national, and world events have added to this stress.
It is only natural that, coming to year-end, people are reflecting on renewal and relaunching their lives. Whether you are a fan or not of New Year’s resolutions, most all of us hope to enjoy a more positive and enjoyable 2021.
Part of a “great reset” involves three steps:
- Reflection. A reflection on what went well. What were your accomplishments? For what would you like to congratulate yourself? What did not work well? For example, if you found a creative way to strike work-life balance, this is a win to be congratulated. If you made the commitment to exercise five times weekly and did not meet this, flag this as something that did not work well. Write these wins and losses down.
- Learning. What lessons have you learned after reflecting on the wins and losses that you have listed? Perhaps you decided to turn off your computer at a certain time each day so that you could turn to your family and respect the work-life balance you created. As a result, the learning might be that putting a structure in place such as specified work hours helps support your goals. And in the case of missing the mark with your commitment to exercise, what did you learn there? It may be that you didn’t leave room in your schedule, or that you didn’t identify what kind of exercise might work for you.
- Commitments. After listing what you have learned, identify what commitments you want to make to yourself going forward. What do you want to bring forward into the new year, and what do you want to leave behind? Again, using our examples, if your learning is that you want to continue structuring time or being more specific for important goals and priorities, how can you apply this to your goals for 2021?
This is a fruitful exercise, and my executive clients find that it helps them stay sharp in their decision-making and execution moving forward.
However, when it comes to leaving behind those things that they have identified as no longer serving them, it becomes challenging to let go.
Why is this?
We human beings are wired for comfort. This means that we also carry a natural inclination to resist change. It is hard to leave the perch! The first step is deciding how you want to leave behind those things that are no longer useful.
Consider the following three choices as you ponder how to streamline and improve your new year.
Let it go. As you look back at 2020, what can you let go without remorse or anguish?
Generally, the kinds of things that respond well to release are low-stakes commitments, decisions, or relationships. Often, they come disguised as enjoyable or previously more important, but upon closer inspection, they may now keep you from having the energy and time you might need for greater or more relevant things. What things might you be holding onto out of habit that should be eliminated from your life or work?
Look at the situation differently. Reframing calls on us to take a different perspective about a situation or person.
An example might be that you have been seeing a particular situation as irritating, or a person as prickly and thus someone to be avoided. Taking a posture to reframe means attempting to “find the gold” or different aspects of that situation which may lend to you feeling better about it.
This is often adopted when the stakes are higher. What have you been putting up with experiencing this year that you feel you need to see a different way? Where in your life or work might you benefit from greater tolerance, compassion, or appreciation of the larger picture?
Bring resolution to the problem.
Notice that the previous steps of releasing and reframing require only action on your part. Reconciliation, however, generally requires two or more people (or two or more parts of yourself!) to work.
We generally seek to reconcile when stakes are high, when we want to save the situation or relationship. This will require a negotiation of sorts. At the very least, it will necessitate a revisit of the situation you deem needs reconciling, a conversation, and a shared agreement to resolve the situation. Sometimes, it requires that we also forgive either the other person or ourselves in order to feel that all is safely put to rest.
As you reflect on this year, and on rebooting life and work to make it even more meaningful and rewarding in the coming new season, what do you need to celebrate? And what do you need to leave behind?
I challenge you to stretch and take the steps to intentionally embrace 2021.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.