2021 is here, whether you are ready or not. Take a look at how to make it a positive one, no matter what is going on with the rest of the world.
It’s the start of a new school year.
For many people, this is a time of optimism and excitement, combined with nervous anticipation. For others, 2021 will begin with a lingering sense of despondency about the pandemic of last year and how it will impact this one.
When the future is uncertain, hope can seem lost.
2020 was supposed to be a time of clear vision. Instead, we were presented with more collective confusion and cloudiness than at any other year. This was compounded by the massive disruption we all had to encounter plus a plethora of new words, phrases and meanings that led to all manner of discombobulation.
Almost overnight, we all got used to talking about social distancing, quarantine, self-isolating, lockdowns, bubbles, being asymptomatic, flattening the curve, elbow-bumping and contact tracing. All these expressions were foreign to us in 2019.
We also got creative and added the new prefix ‘iso’ to almost anything we could, from iso-baking, iso-kilos, iso-burnout and iso-haircut.
In the education sphere, new words like face-to-face learning, at-home learning, register-your attendance, personal-protective equipment and staggered-start took on new meaning. Within the school environment, educators and students alike tried as best as we could to remove the feeling of remoteness from remote-learning.
It certainly was an incredible year and involved a lot of very big adjustments. But amongst all this confusion and at times angst, I am convinced there is always a reason for hope.
Let’s take the lessons learnt from the last year and combine them with the faith of returning to a hybrid normalcy that has the power to thrust us into a promising future.
Below are five actionable ideas to help you start and sustain 2021 on the right note.
1. Start with a Posture of Possibility
The media is heavily incentivised to make you think the world is falling apart. Yes, there are complexities and difficulties we need to face. But human potential has always found a way to thrive, regardless of circumstance. We have accomplished this by having a posture of possibility.
I have re-watched the ‘Last Dance’ documentary countless times as I am fascinated with the basketball genius of Michael Jordan. His last comment in the final episode continues to ring in my ears.
When asked about how they created one of the most prolific basketball teams of all time, Michael said, “It started with hope. We went from a shitty team to one of the all-time best dynasties. All you needed was one little match to start that whole fire.”
Start your school year with a posture of possibility and watch your infectiousness inspire those around you.
2. Start with Ambition
Ambition is a powerful force. Look at the greats; Serena Williams, Lebron James, Beyoncé or Malala Yousafzai. There was something in them that drove them to success.
Watch them sing, play ball or fight for a cause. Their dedication and diligence are like a firestorm.
This fire inside doesn’t light itself. Something on the inside has to spark. A vision, a goal, a sense of purpose or calling has to emanate from within. Don’t hear the call and hide; heed it and be heroic.
Do not go into the school year coasting or chilling. Go into this year full of ambition to do something important and meaningful with your life. Rip into this year with a spring in your step and run to win.
As a former athlete, when my children were little, they asked me to give them some advice on their upcoming school athletics carnival. I told them to, “Run to win!”.
I also said, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t win, but you run to win.” It is not about a ribbon, it’s about an attitude. The goal is to never be apathetic. You build ambition into every corridor of your life and when you do find your ‘thing’, you will have developed the ability to run to win.
Don’t get trapped in living a stagnant and stationary life, labelling your lethargic approach as contentment. The best place any of us can live is when we are: totally grateful for today’s blessings and looking forward to advancing into tomorrow’s possibilities.
I am a massive fanboy of Nelson Mandela. I love his philosophy of “I never lose, I either win or I learn.”
Make that your mantra for 2021 and breathe life into your ambitions.
3. Start with an Intention to Fail
There is an old question continually brought up in motivational circles that bothered me, the question is, “If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?”
I never liked the question because it wasn’t grounded in reality. There is nothing you can do and not experience the sting or failure or setbacks. A better question would be, “What would you do, even if you knew you would fail?” What is worth doing even if you do fail at it. That is the place of passion.
I still remember a concert my wife and I attended in 2009, the Alicia Keys gig in Sydney. I came away from that experience inspired. Being in the presence of greatness lifts your soul and moves your spirit. But where is greatness born? How is it harnessed?
Alicia was born in Harlem and raised in Hell’s Kitchen. Hell’s Kitchen is a nickname used to describe an area of Manhattan in New York City. Up until the early 1990’s, it was a rough and tumble, gritty bastion for poor working-class Americans. Back in the day, it was known for its underworld activities of gangsters and bootleggers.
Sometimes the brightest stars come from the darkest places. Who would have imagined that a jewel like Alicia Keys could have come out of Hell’s Kitchen? It is a reminder to us all that outward circumstances cannot diminish talent.
In a Masterclass on songwriting, Alicia said, “I was writing another song, that was called…something I don’t remember because it didn’t work out. But I didn’t need it to work out. I needed it to lead me to this…one of my favourite songs (Not Even a King) Everything is a process. Everything is leading to something.” Failure is not final, it’s a gateway to another place.
As you enter 2021, starting with the intention to fail is the only real pathway to realise what you are capable of.
Here is a breath-taking transcendent idea and one worth pondering, “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.” — Chögyam Trungpa
4. Start to Frame your World in way that is helpful
Where you sit determines what you see.
In a large auditorium, each seat will give you a unique view of the stage. If both of us are sitting in the auditorium in completely different locations, you will see things I can’t see, but it doesn’t mean that what you see isn’t real. Perspective is a mind-altering tool to shift our thinking.
Obstacles, misfortunes and unexpected suffering is sadly a part of the human condition. If going over the trauma over and over in your minds helps, then do that. If it doesn’t, move on.
You have so much to offer the world. Allowing the past to steal your future is not how you want to spend 2021. If you don’t let your past die, it won’t let you live. So, move on any way you can. If that involves counselling, forgiveness or asking for support do that. Anne Lamott said, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
Shifting your perspective and taking a higher view is not an easy road. The easier path would be to remain bitter. However, growth requires change. It requires moving in new and uncomfortable ways. It takes effort and consistency, but the rewards are endless.
5. Start by Being Present
When all you know is ‘busy’, you start to feel like you need to resist taking time out to rest.
The most difficult thing for most of us is to be present. Our smart devices distract us and take us away from what is close. We become so busy running/scrolling from one thing to another that we lose sight of the moment we are in.
This moment, right here, is the only true moment. Don’t ignore those around you and drop into a wormhole by making yourself invisible to those who are near to you. We cannot go back in our past nor take a train to our future. This, right here, is the most important moment. What will you learn, who will you encounter, what will you allow yourself to taste, smell, see, touch, hear and experience?
Dignify this moment by giving people the gift of your presence. The death of most people’s dreams is scrolling. Why? Because to be good at anything takes time.
A simple rule of thumb when using social media is to spend more time creating than consuming. You can be connected and catch up with your friends easily in 20 mins per day. Any more than that and you are addicted.
Liking 567 posts when you are only really close to 5 people is a waste of your time. Strengthen those relationships that are true. Cultivate connection and you will never be alone. Stop staring at pixels of people and look into the eyes of a real person in your home and connect.
There is ample evidence to acknowledge the belief that social media fuels anxiety. It also leads to isolation, disappointment in missing out on events others have attended and primes us to compare and despair.
Start this year by spending less time scrolling and more of it being present and absorbing your surroundings and watch your well being improve. The sky will seem bluer, the grass greener and your siblings less annoying!
We thankfully get to choose how we frame our life.
Each day this year, start your day by asking yourself, “Can I be better than yesterday?” “Can I step into a path of self-improvement?” The answer to both of those questions will always be yes.
Make this your greatest year yet!
Do you have questions or do you want to know more about making 2021 your best year ever? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org