According to Google, 2020 was the year we asked “Why?” as the pandemic, unemployment, Black Lives Matter and tragic hate crimes shook our consciousness. It was a really viral and inspirational post, but what comes next? Things haven’t really changed much. So will this be another year of “Why”s?
Writing from my personal experience, I feel like I swing between asking “Why” questions and choosing to just focus on what I can control. I don’t know how to strike the right balance, because the magnitude of the “Why” questions are important and warrant our attention.
I still find myself asking “Why” questions. Why are anti-covid people rioting and targeting hospitals in the Netherlands? Why are people taking over Capitol Hill? Why does the pace of business feel relentlessly fast-paced while employees are still stuck at home with little support? Why are we not seeing progress with Black Lives Matter in companies and systems? Why are we in this perpetual state of despair? Why can’t we all stay inside and wear masks so that this pandemic stops taking so many lives?
The only way I have been able to find sanity for myself is this: Focus on my own “Why” and put it into action somehow. What purpose can I contribute to with my resources, relationships, and skills this year? What matters to me that would help others? Why does it matter? What do I want to create, grow, spread this year? How can I help? What will this year look like if I’m really intentional about how I show up, how I contribute to my team, and how I choose to invest my resources? What would be a Why that makes me feel like I’m part of progress towards a more inclusive, peaceful and healthy world?
This helps most days, but not all days. Some days, I sit in despair and get pretty down. Some days I have to take a break and stare at my ceiling and breathe deeply. But here’s what I do think consistently helps me get out of a dark place: it’s that each one of us is capable of creating change and we shouldn’t underestimate that. The worst thing we can do is to tune-out completely, because systematic change cannot happen without scale.
So I think 2021 is the year I’m finding the answers to my “Why” and being in action to fulfill it. It’s the first time in a long time I feel fully integrated in my work and life and in my outer and inner worlds. I’m learning that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I have good days and I have bad days. I have productive days and I have unproductive days. And that’s about the best I can do right now.