By Ron Price
Here comes another “learning from 2020, leaning into 2021” article. You may be tired of seeing these by now, so why would I submit yet another one? Because this ability to reflect or self-evaluate and then to create specific intentions for the future is what sets human beings apart from everything else in life. I know you love your pets, but as far as we can tell, they only live in the present. They can’t identify what they are grateful for in the past, or create a vivid picture of what they want in the future. One of the great tragedies for any individual is to have the ability to change one’s future, and yet do nothing about it. This is why I’m asking you to read this article and then invest the time to sharpen your intentions and create a beautiful future.
This doesn’t have to be complex or take a long time. Answer the following questions with as much reflection and detail as you can muster up:
- How did 2020 turn out different than I expected? (How specific can you get in describing the difference between what you expected and what you experienced?)
- What positive experiences did I have during 2020?
- In what ways was I disappointed or hurt by things I experienced in 2020?
- What did I learn about myself? In what ways was I surprised by my resilience? Where did I need more strength?
One of the new habits I built in 2020 was creating a daily list of things I was grateful for from the previous day. I knew that in times of disruption, I needed the emotional strength that would come from counting my blessings and intentionally nurturing gratitude every day. I started this new habit on June 1 and my list of identified blessings exceeded 900 entries by the end of December. What a wonderful experience to go back through my lists! Some were simple blessings, like getting to watch a football game on TV or a good night’s sleep, and others were profound, like welcoming our tenth grandchild (fourth granddaughter) who was born on Oct 21.
Imagining a beautiful future in 2021:
If you want to look back at the end of this coming year with greater appreciation, consider the following questions:
- How do I want to grow my character this year? What habits do I want to practice and repeat, such as planning each day thoughtfully, or reading life-enhancing books for 30 minutes each day. What habits do I want to change? How can I do this in practical ways throughout the year? (For more ideas, read or re-read, Growing Influence by me and Stacy Ennis. We also have an online book study.
- How do I want to grow my expertise or competence this year? What new skills do I want to become known for that are beyond my current capabilities? What skills do I want to sharpen?
- Who do I want to serve in 2021? (Much of our joy in life comes from what we do for others. ) How can I make a difference for my family, my colleagues at work, my church or my community? (The more specific you are, the greater chance you will have something beautiful to celebrate at the end of 2021.)
- What life-expanding experiences do I want to have in the coming year? Where would I like to travel, either physically or virtually? What acts of courage do I want to take? What big decisions can I make that will change my life or others’ lives for the better?
As a result of adjustments we made during 2020, I want to keep exploring virtual experiences in the coming year. My wife and I have been talking about taking virtual vacations, intentionally scheduling time to explore parts of the world we have never visited, or want to visit again. We are experimenting with Virtual Reality technology to see how close we can get to the experience of being somewhere, or to prepare ourselves for richer physical trips in the future.
For my character development and opportunities to serve, I’m planning to learn about collaboration at a much deeper level, in pursuit of the true meaning of synergy in relationships, the results of our efforts together are much greater than the sum of the parts.
After you have completed your own time of remembering 2020 and imagining a beautiful 2021, these quotes from journalist-turned-personal-development guru, Napoleon Hill, may help you on your journey of growth:
“Every problem, adversity, or heartache has contained within it a seed of equivalent or greater benefit.”
“Whatever you can vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass.”
Actually, I can’t verify whether these statements are literally true in every situation. However, they have served me well for many years. I plan to continue to use them as a great directional compass in the new year. I hope your year is the best one yet!