A new year, and the same you

About this new year

Happy 2021, everyone. The holidays are done and, for many people, today represents the first day back on the job this year. There will likely be multiple good wishes flying across your screens and amid your Teams and Zoom meetings this week. There have certainly been multiple memes wishing good riddance to 2020!

During the first few weeks of each new year, you may also be on the receiving end of enquiries as to how this new year is treating you. When it comes to personal and career progress, we may be better served by asking ourselves a couple of different questions. We may want to ask how we’re treating ourselves and the new year, and what we’ll do with this life we’re living.

A new year need not imply a need to reinvent oneself

Yes, it’s a new year. However, when we approach a new year – or even a new month, week, day, or person – the same way we approached the last one, we’re likely to find ourselves experiencing similar outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic has of course thrown a monkey wrench (repeatedly) at all our lives, as do other significant events and issues.

Pandemic or no pandemic, we still have choices – with each new year and each new day. Will we watch it unfold, or will we choose to control what we can?

How am I treating myself? How will I approach this new year?

Some of you may have made New Year’s resolutions over the past few days, and it’s a safe bet that a certain percentage of us have already broken these resolutions. In other instances, despite everything going on around us, there are people who continue to maintain good habits and positive approaches to life.

Look around as well as within, and determine how you’ll approach the year – or day – ahead

Whether you’ve made and broken resolutions, remained consistent with a solid approach that some may envy, or find yourself somewhere in between, a new year needn’t imply a need to reinvent onself.

Whatever the date on the calendar, though, it’s good to routinely engage in self-reflection and planning. Knowing many people do do at this time of year, and also knowing that some people are embarking on this year more than a little worn down and discouraged by the year we’ve just sent packing, I’m presenting a new webinar next week, on January 12th. Career and Personal Resilience: 2021 Kick Start will open with an environmental scan.

We’ll look at the pandemic’s impacts on workplace trends and expectations. We need to be not only self-aware, but also mindful of employers’ challenges … which can make us aware of opportunities. From there, we’ll focus on personal resilience and how you can take that awareness of the pandemic’s macro impacts to considering how you can positively impact your organisation’s resilience. We’ll wrap up our time together with a proactive focus on why and how to establish meaningful career goals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has (repeatedly) thrown a monkey wrench at all our lives

Life comes with roadblocks, including – as we’ve learned – pandemics. When we’re resilient, we search out or create ways to work around those roadblocks.

Longtime readers will know that, a few years ago, we established a New Year’s Day tradition of running into the waters of English Bay along with thousands of other “crazy Canucks” and visitors. This is known as Vancouver’s annual Polar Bear Swim and, if you’re looking for more reasons to smile today, I’ve embedded links to some of my articles and pics from past Polar Bear Swims in this paragraph.

Find a way to achieve your goals despite those monkey wrenches

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Vancouver’s Park Board cancelled this year’s public Polar Bear Swim and encouraged would-be polar bear swimmers to instead “fill a tub, kiddie pool, anything with cold water (7°C) and take a cold dip. Get creative! ”

Was I going to hop in a bathtub of cold water on New Year’s Day? No. However, our long walk along some beaches New Year’s morning, amid non-stop heavy rain, cemented my plan to make my way to a quiet spot along the beach and maintain my Polar Bear tradition. As soon as we were back indoors, and before I could get too cozy, I switched into a bathing suit and headed back to the beach. There were small clusters of families and couples all along the beach, finding ways to maintain our tradition outdoors while keeping physical distance from others. Despite the pandemic and a downpour that could fairly be described as somewhere between heavy and torriential, I kept the streak going for a ninth year.

This wasn’t an earth shattering accomplishment, yet I felt great about this year’s mad dash into chilly waters. I felt so happy about it that, as you’ll see above, I took a few minutes to design my own virtual 2021 commemorative pin.

We’ll face more signifcant roadblocks or curve balls in the year ahead and, if you’re proactive and focus on resilience, you’ll increase the likelihood of finding your own workarounds and solutions. You don’t need to reinvent yourself. You do need to know yourself and your values, and the ability to act on them. You need to keep your eyes open, and make efforts to be aware of what’s going on in your organisation, sector and globally; these factors have potential to impact you and your career.

Choose optimism, and choose resilience over perfection

Choose wellbeing. Make a commitment, or a renewed commitment, to good choices related to sleep, exercise and eating habits. Lose the need for perfection. I refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist, and can tell you it’s more productive to focus on resilience. Commit to nurturing professional relationships in these uncertain times, and to ongoing learning and professional development. Most of all, and with your eyes wide open, choose optimism.

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