A blank canvas of 12 months awaits, one which – if we listen to the experts – can empower us to shape it into the “Year of Our Dreams” (again). The world is our oyster, and we are choosing or not choosing to dive for the prize. What’s the prize? Why, anything we want, of course! Do we want more? Do we want less? Do we simply want to wave our January arms around and have a wildly fulfilling life in all quadrants? Yes. Yes, we do.
Or, do we instead spend January in a haze of holiday recovery – setting goals and intentions that feel like the right ones but that are sidelined by February 2 as we scramble from one thing to the next – hoping for the groundhog to not see his shadow so that spring comes early?
2022 is extra in that this is the year that we are supposed to get fully out of the pandemic. Our industry, our work, our partnerships, our plans – they are all slated to thrive like never before. Everything we’ve been talking about is now supposed to manifest right before our very eyes in a comeback not seen since John Travolta stepped onto the screen in “Pulp Fiction.”
As I sit here in front of my computer in frozen New Jersey – with my COVID-19-positive 5-year-old on her COVID-19-positive mother’s lap, and plans for a big 2022 in-person kickoff this week with my team sidelined – it occurs to me that we, FICP-ers, have really layered on the expectations for this year in particular. It’s as if we think that if we just keep putting it all out there, we will somehow fully manage around the reality of the pandemic, burnout, staffing issues, supply chain problems, health concerns, human rights, socioeconomics, geo-political implications and crow’s feet. We’re all very good at managing around things, so this should be doable. Right?
Don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of simple, clear goals, and I find great personal impact in rituals that mark time and help ground me. Every year on December 31, my friends and I have what we affectionately call a F*ck It Bucket. It works like this: You write down what you want to release from the previous year on a piece of paper, and everything goes into a metal bucket. Then, we set the whole thing on fire. Out with the old, out with what is not serving you! You could do this right now if you want to. Make your own F*ck It Bucket. Just don’t burn your house down.
At the beginning of winter, I also like to remind myself of this: There is nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so don’t expect yourself to do so either. I don’t know where I saw this statement, nor do I know who said it, but it sticks in my brain. Winter is about hidden growth – what is happening underground, what is sheltered and nurtured, what is dormant, but still there. What if we took this same approach with ourselves? What if we recognized the parts of ourselves that need to rest, regroup, to be sheltered in order to later thrive?
Now is a good time to take inventory of your hidden growth opportunities. You may find that there is something that needs updating in your life or your work habits. I hesitate to use the word “change,” but when there’s something we would like to explore updating, we need to set ourselves up for success from the start.
To that end, I recommend Sara Hays Coomer’s book, The Habit Trip. Sarah is a proponent of micro-steps, and you can evaluate and chart a path to meaningful evolution of your habits through her workbook journey.
And for all of you Brene Brown junkies out there, my favorite place right now for leadership insights is Brene’s Dare to Lead podcast. With conversation topics like braving trust, courage in the midst of change and atomic habits (with James Clear), there’s always something to fill your cup with. She also has a new book out called Atlas of the Heart, Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience.
This leads me to wonder, FICP-ers, what if we all had one collective 2022 intention? To CONNECT. What if we all held ourselves accountable to that singular effort – from which so many other things blossom? What if there was a common focus for 2022 for every single one of us? Take one more step per day/week/month to connect with someone else. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, take a lot of time or need to be a whole rigmarole. Send a note. Text a GIF. This isn’t about being social; this is about being available for someone else, about caring for our communities and about staying present while sheltering this winter. It might just help you nourish your hidden growth potential.
Take a selfie with your "Connect" note and share it on social media! Be sure to tag FICP and use #FICPConnect.
Vice President, Meetings Management & Event Strategy