2021 — How to Start Fresh (and Make the Right Choices)

First, I am going to toss out the old “blueprints.”

What a year. Everything was different.

And, I don’t know about you, but I really needed a break.

It’s time for reflection, but also to make some hard choices. And I don’t mean the usual New Year resolutions we make every year. Less sugar. More gym.

We need something totally different.

But big life choices are harder when there is so much uncertainty and we don’t know what the future will bring.

Day-to-day routines are constantly changing. What will happen with work-from-home? And what about travel? Schools? Shopping?

I see the confusion with my students. They had it all figured out before, but now they suddenly find that their dreams and plans might not work anymore. The uncertainty makes them nervous and more and more of them are considering remaining students and enrolling in another school or program.

Taking a pause seems to make sense but isn’t always possible. Waiting for everything to go back to normal, or at least, settle down, may even be a mistake. What if radical uncertainty has become a permanent condition of our lives?

This is scary, worries me, and makes me feel uncomfortable.

3 Strategies to Turn the Page and Get You Going

Most of us can’t wait to end 2020 and start fresh.

But this year wasn’t all bad. The power of communities was one thing that clearly stood out for me. The year showed that people have the ability to help each other in creative ways.

I saw communities stepping up and helping people who most need it in difficult times. People who alone in lockdown get lots of cards from “strangers.”

My wife owns a restaurant and the support from the community has been overwhelming. It makes me feel me good and reminds me to stay positive for 2021.

And we have witnessed the emergence of an environment for experimentation and innovation. This environment is conducive for developing our talents and interests in new and unanticipated ways.

I expect a lot from the following 2021 strategies:

If Not Now Then When

It’s time to start things we’ve always wanted to do. Daily routine tends to dictate our lives and work. We often believe there is simply no time to do other things — even the things we always wanted to do.

But if there is one thing, I learned in 2020, it is that there is no time for procrastination. We must act now. For me this means focusing more than ever on the reform of education. Writing. Presenting. Sharing experiences.

Experiment and Disrupt

The old blueprints to a happy and successful life don’t work anymore, and I am not sure that new blueprints are coming anytime soon.

I finally had some time to clean up the basement last week. I had stored the materials from all the conferences where I had spoken in the last ten years there. Going through these materials made me realize that we are inclined to follow blueprints. Why we do things, what we do, and how we do these things are more or less pre-defined by how we did things before or how others have successfully done things.

But I am not going to be satisfied too quickly anymore. The basement “taught” me a critical lesson: Don’t rely only on blueprints that worked for you in the past. Dare to experiment and disrupt your current work. It will help you stay ahead of the curve now and in the future.

Inspire and Get Inspired

Self-learning has become more important than ever. But self-learning isn’t something you do alone. It works best when you have the ability to inspire others who in turn will be able to inspire you.

Self-learning has become co-learning and opportunities of co-learning have unlocked the power of communities. The unifying effect of learning has never been more visible. And this means that you have to understand digital communities. Social media is so much more than “fake news” and “likes.” It helps you build an audience and community of like-minded people who help you develop your ideas, skills, and talents further.

For sure, I needed a break, but I can’t wait for the new chances and opportunities that will be presented to all of us in 2021.

Professor & Ultra Runner

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