January is a powerful time of year. We change our calendars, evaluate our accomplishments, and anticipate what it takes to achieve our goals.
Normally, I write about how you might manage leadership challenges in your professional life. This month I’m taking a page out of my history and sharing my vision for the future. My hope is to share what I’ve learned and, ideally, inspire you to reflect on what you endured, what you learned, and what you want for the future.
At the start of 2020, I was full of optimism and plans for the future. Then, Covid arrived. While life was not negative on all fronts, plans changed significantly and sustaining optimism became very hard work.
At the start of 2021, I was grateful that my husband and I had a basic level of health and security still available to us. I knew – more than ever before – how important and valuable that is. I tapped into this tentative optimism and experienced the best year of my coaching practice and one of the hardest in my personal life. It felt like riding a roller coaster in the dark. I never knew when the ride would pitch in a new direction.
Professionally, in 2021 I focused on sharing my passion for coaching and leadership development through presentations, podcasts, articles, and an improved website that better reflects who I am and what I do. I also gained powerful relationships that support me and released some that no longer did. Letting go of a relationship doesn’t need to happen in anger or frustration. It’s simply acknowledging that an end has been reached. And, I worked to be of service to and maintain a strong connection with, each of my clients – knowing we were both growing through our work together.
Personally, 2021 was a year of deep highs and lows. I had a health scare early in the year and my parents’ health declined – significantly and simultaneously – near year’s end. Re-evaluating my priorities and arranging for my life to be even more mobile and flexible than ever before had new meaning. And, on an up note, I trained and ran my first half-marathon in 15 years. Now, I’m more physically fit than I’ve been in a decade.
So, 2020 was a dumpster fire.
Then, 2021 was a roller coaster ridden in darkness.
Now, 2022 has arrived.
I greet this year with a mix of gratitude, trepidation and, admittedly, fatigue. Despite Covid’s continued over-sized role in daily life, I remain surprisingly optimistic with hopes of possibility and potential. I like to think of this positive outlook as a product of perseverance and resilience. Maybe, that’s just what I need it to be.
In this uncertain climate, I have three key priorities that bridge the personal and professional:
Reflect and Adapt on Self-defined Timetable
Throughout the pandemic, millions of people have reconnected with their values, reset their priorities, and made big changes in their personal and professional lives to get to a better place. I have done this, too. I’m committed to focusing on the most important and most impactful things.
This effort need not be tied to the calendar – the start of a new year, the quarterly performance review, or whatever. Do it any way that works for you – set your own evaluation cadence, do this work alone or with your partner, friend, or advisor. Try to be open and agile as you reflect on your accomplishments and challenges and contemplate what you want to achieve next.
Appreciate and Celebrate Achievements
I often ask clients, “How will you celebrate that achievement?” Sometimes, the answer I get is a huge sigh. It’s important to remember that celebration doesn’t need to be a huge Event Of The Year that drains your energy. Asking my clients this question and having this conversation also reminds me to be grateful and aware of the abundance. I’ll be asking this question even more this year.
There are many ways to celebrate effectively – and quietly, if that’s what you prefer. You can share the success with one person to acknowledge that you did it and it was good. You can also do it alone: take a pause, feel the sense of accomplishment, and know it was the step forward that you wanted to take. Or throw a party if that’s your style. Sometimes? Sometimes, it is simply feeling good that ‘the thing’ you really didn’t want to do is now done and you never, ever need to think about it again. Yay, you! That’s what’s important – celebrating. Whether it is out loud or inside your head, a positive outcome, a healthy change, a goal achieved, a bit of happiness deserves your attention. Then, you’re in the right mindset to tackle whatever is coming around the corner.
Invoke a Year of Giving
I’ve always loved the philosophy of paying it forward – so that’s one more thing I’m going to do. Each month of 2022, I will give up to 10 people free access to the Energy LeadershipTM Index (ELI) assessment, a powerful tool for assessing individuals’ perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors and the impact they have on their leadership capabilities and the people around them.
The assessments are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you sign up and receive one, I ask you to consider paying it forward, too. Consider giving a donation to a charitable organization of your choice or gift the ELI assessment to someone you think would be receptive and would benefit . Learn more and sign up here!
Happy New Year!