I’ve never been a fan of math word problems, which is funny because I’m a huge fan of words. Just not the math part. But given how this year has gone, this problem does not sound nearly as ridiculous as it did last year.
Even though the year has been challenging in too many ways to count, many good things still happened (and will continue to occur) this year.
Babies were born.
Friendships were formed.
Puppies were adopted.
People fell in love.
Career milestones were attained.
Families played together.
I learned how to fold a fitted sheet.
Unfortunately, during a year like this, we don’t always remember the good stuff. We get lost in the problems. How can we finish out the year strong? What do we need to subtract? What do we need to add? How can we multiply our positives?
Here are 5 suggestions to help you tackle the “word problem” that is 2020 and improve your odds, no matter what comes next, be it aliens or an Ice Age.
1. Re-define your goals
2020 has many new variables, which ultimately affect your goals. I know, you started out the year strong, ready to hit huge career goals and family milestones. I did too. I was poised for 2020 to be my most lucrative speaking year to date, until, well, you know…COVID. But when circumstances are out of your control, you must find a way to re-define what success looks like. And the steps it will take to get there.
Some of you have aced the “pivot” (are you sick of that word yet?). Others have identified new, more realistic goals. Kim, a customer service executive, is now managing her team from her spare bedroom while helping her kids distance learn at the kitchen table. Did I mention they are also training a new puppy? Fortunately, she has a sense of humor and the common sense to create some more reasonable goals.
Her new goals look something like this:
- Wear deodorant and brush hair every day. 2020 stinks, but you don’t have to.
- Factor in time for fitness. And no the walk from the desk to the fridge does not count. Schedule weekly walking meetings with each team member.
- Spend more quality time with family, even if it means yet another frozen pizza and Monopoly game.
- Create healthy boundaries. Stop working at 5pm, the remaining work will still be there tomorrow.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff, even if your 6 year-old comes in naked and dripping wet during your Zoom staff meeting.
When you consider your goals, create a reasonable list of tasks. Do whatever it takes to foster mental and physical health. Perhaps strive to learn something new. But remember, now more than ever, even baby steps are steps in the right direction.
2. Keep perspective! Sometimes good enough is good enough.
If there were ever a year to kick the idea of perfection to the curb, this is it! Friends, will you join me in shooting for progress, not perfection?
You have food in your pantry. You have strong enough Wi-Fi to stream all of your devices (at least most of the time). Your kids, although likely at home, are alive, fed and occasionally showered. You put on a bra for your Zoom calls. You work as effectively as you can under the circumstances. Your leggings still have enough Lycra left to fit over your “COVID Cushion.”
That is GOOD ENOUGH.
3. Give grace. Period.
Practice patience. Extend more grace to colleagues, family, friends, yourself, and strangers. Even on social media.
4. Make a list of accomplishments (big and small!)
If you’ve been receiving my monthly e-newsletters in 2020, you know I’ve dubbed this “the year to journal.” Journaling is an excellent practice to enhance your personal growth and foster mental health. It’s a great way to clear your head. But journaling doesn’t necessarily mean writing essays or long works of prose. Journaling can mean making lists or drawing pictures.
Feeling blue? Start a gratitude journal.
Unproductive? List your accomplishments. Big and small. It’s okay to celebrate the small stuff!
You get the idea, right? Your journal is exactly that…YOUR JOURNAL. Write about things that matter to YOU.
5. Use the 5-5-5 formula
Are you a worrier? Do you stress about making decisions? If so, here’s a simple approach to help you find perspective—and hopefully reduce your stress. When you find yourself stuck, ask yourself these questions:
- Will it matter in 5 days?
- Will it matter in 5 months?
- Will it matter in 5 years?
If the answer is no, you may not want to spend a lot of time on it. It may be one of those situations to “bless and release!” All that thinking and worrying takes time and energy away from other activities you could be doing instead, like putting on deodorant and spending precious time with the people you love.
I’m certainly no mathematician, but hope this advice adds up for you!