In my last newsletter, I provided a reflection tool for 2020 and a guidance structure for setting goals and taking first steps forward in the new year. I have heard from some of you that you jumped in, used it, and found it cathartic. I personally must confess that I found it far more difficult to do this year than in the past. While I feel hopeful and energized by the reality of a vaccine, I recognize that it's still a ways off for most and, at least for the first half of 2021, it will feel more like 2020, in terms of living and working with the virus. As I pushed myself through the reflection and goal-setting process, I eventually gave myself permission to be less excited about, and consequently less concrete in, my professional planning efforts than in prior years. That permission allowed me to think small, instead of big, It provided me with the freedom to allot the time and energy needed to focus more on personal development and dig a bit deeper into areas I have identified in the past as worth the effort.
Without consciously realizing it, at least initially, I was giving myself a break. I was lowering the expectations of some unnamed and vague voice in my head that was telling me I had to set significant goals for the next year. Becoming aware of 'shoulds' allows one to stop, recognize, and actively choose a different direction. Freed from 'shoulds,' voices of self-talk, and expectations, our brain can create space for real reflection, reasonable and realistic options, and peace of mind. (I am always seeking some peace of mind.)
If you have had the energy to invest in thinking about 2021 goals and where you want to go next, great. Keep it up, but don't forget to give yourself some slack, given the extraordinary circumstances in which we currently find ourselves.
If you have had trouble getting going in 2021, perhaps you can start by giving yourself a break. It's okay to be kind to yourself, to name the challenges of this time, to give yourself the space just to be, without setting lots of goals. Self-compassion may be the best goal of all for 2021.
For more reading material on self-compassion, the work and writings of Kristin Neff are a great place to start.
Wishing you kindness to yourself in the coming year!
Reach out anytime. I love hearing from you all.