If 2020 was a year of plot twists, let’s plan 2021 to be a year where we take back control. Read more for practical tips on how to plan for this year.
In past years, I created New Years “Standards” to define standards I wanted to set for myself, not unlike the O.K.R process I had learned at Google (where moonshot goals with 60-70% success rates are considered bold enough). These standards helped me shape a vision for who I wanted to become, but truthfully they were often rooted in extrinsic values.
2020 has set a new bar for what good standards actually look like when a lot is taken away from us. As I think about planning for 2021, I find myself wanting to play a bigger role, rather than feeling small, exhausted, and upset with everything that’s been happening (which is how I felt towards December).
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
– Mister Rogers
Here’s what I’m taking away this year:
#1) The world doesn’t need more heroes. The world needs more helpers. If we are defined by our choices, I am impressed by the types of choices I saw people make in the midst of chaos. I’m inspired by the Helpers. The people who act, donate, make calls, build, march, serve their community. Less talking, more doing. In 2021, I’m asking myself how I can help and serve others more effectively.
#2) Pay attention to people who can make lemonade out of the sourest lemons. I’m talking about people who carried a lot this year yet still showed up everyday where they were needed. The working parents stuck at home without help, the family members taking care of each other remotely, senior home staff, Black Lives Matter advocates and supporters, the frontlines in hospitals… there are so many people who gave 2020 their damn best, whether we knew it or not. Their superpower is their generosity and perseverance. In 2021, I’m asking myself what kind of lemonade I can create from the ingredients that I have.
#3) Learn, Un-Learn, Re-Learn continuously. This year taught most of us what really matters when everything is stripped away. It is a year that taught us to un-learn some habits and re-learn things we might have lost touch with. Self-care became glaringly important for us to re-learn. We had to learn how to nourish our inner worlds and mental health came more to the forefront. And we’ve picked up on new skills: ways of working remotely, time management, and remembering to un-mute on Zoom. For me, 2021 will be a year to learn better habits and structure around Health and Self-Care: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.
With that, here’s my new process for 2021:
- Identify a Meta Theme for 2021 based on what I learned in 2020: FOCUS
I choose to have more intentionality and focus on how I spend my time, attention, and dollars. I will focus on what I can control and what I can contribute.
- Create a personal purpose statement for myself as an anchor and orientation towards choices:
I have been working for a few weeks now on a personal purpose statement that aligns my gifts / skills towards a bigger purpose that I want to serve. The exercise has been enlightening and challenging. If you’re interested, here is an Ikigai framework that helps to think about, as well as examples of famous personal purpose statements for inspiration. I plan on sharing my purpose statement once it’s ready on this blog.
- Develop a 2021 Vision and Specific Results I want to create:
One year from today, what do you want your life to feel like? What do you want to manifest? How does it connect with your bigger purpose? Developing a personal vision is a powerful tool that helps us think bigger and enter into a more intentional mindset. For me, I have a vision of creating an intentional development path for myself as a leader who is true to myself and walks the walk with more mastery and grace, sharing my experiences through this blog, and developing a community of like-minded emerging Millennial and Gen Z leaders to change the face of leadership in the future. I believe transformational leadership is possible and within reach. This blog will be my starting point to start to create this.
- List out the support I need to accomplish this:
We can’t go far without the help of others. For me, I need:
(1) Good health (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual),
(2) An Executive Coach to help me better understand leadership frameworks and to track my progress weekly,
(3) Accountability partners for support, mutual learning, and feedback,
(4) Time allocation optimization for my personal time to invest more in my goals and develop healthy habits to be at my best.
- Create an environment for myself to practice, practice, practice:
I am actively planning how to engineer my calendar to allow myself the right balance between executing my key responsibilities, practicing things I’m learning, and having time for rest & play. I hate routine (I get bored easily) but coming out of COVID-19 I am also a huge believer that discipline can create a lot of freedom and ease in one’s life. So I’m working on that too.
I hope this generated some ideas for you on how to approach 2021 with intentionality rooted in your greater purpose. No matter what, I wish you a healthy, joyful and intentional year next year.