On December 31, 1999, we stayed at home on New Year’s Eve. Our friends, Jack and Lorrie, were with us. We had all been well ‘warned’ about the possible things to fear as the clock struck midnight. We had heard that computers had never been programmed to handle a new date, one starting with a 20 instead of a 19. We had been instructed on how to avert this possible malfunction by upgrading software. And we understood that it was possible that if some large, important corporations had not taken proper precautions, we could all be thrown into some kind of chaos. Bank accounts could be inaccessible, as could any stores or businesses relying on computer technology.
As the clock struck midnight in Australia, then Asia and Europe, the world gave a sigh of relief as we could see that Y2K, and all the fretting that came with it, had been for naught. Electricity still flowed, computers turned on and worked (although we may still have been using a dial up connection), televisions powered up. It was all systems go. Within moments, we were back to playing game, wishing each other a Happy New Year and no doubt making some resolutions for the year 2000.
Here we are again, twenty years later, at the cusp of a new decade, once again looking forward. This time our vision is 2020. Literally. We are trying to imagine how to improve ourselves, our lives and our circumstances. The new page is blank and we are free to imagine whatever our imaginations can conjure.
I don’t know when I started making New Year’s resolutions. I can remember seeing my older sister, Mary, writing hers in a book when she was a young teenager, so I can guess I was about ten or eleven when I first began to understand this notion. I take them seriously when I write them, but put absolutely no pressure on myself to fulfill them. I think I must just love the idea of a clean slate. A possibility for a fresh start; a chance to become my best self.
As I consider heading into the 2020’s, I’m thinking more broadly. I recognize that rather than this being just a fresh sheet of paper, it’s more like an entire fresh roll of paper; blank, unrolled and taped to the wall in front of me.
Normally I’d start writing down what I’d like to accomplish in the upcoming year. The problem with my method is from this vantage point, the year seems so long. I can’t picture next November or December. And even worse, when I do picture them, they seem so far away that I tell my self I have plenty of time to get started on and to complete my goals. Even though I’m not really even starting on my resolutions, I somehow convince myself there will come a magical time when I reach my goal!
This year, I’m approaching it differently. Instead of me looking at that huge unrolled piece of paper, waiting for me to write or draw on it starting from the left side, I’ve decided to stand at the right hand side of the same sheet of paper and look back at it. Whether my mural sized paper represents only the upcoming year, or the entire approaching decade, I’m going to approach it as if. As if the year is in my past, in my rear-view mirror. I want to ask myself the simple question:
When I look back at 2020, what do I want to be able to take pride in?
Looking at the year from this perspective, I certainly don’t want to have a blank paper. I really don’t want any parts of it to be blank. And at the same time, I don’t need it to be filled with just busyness. I want to consciously place images and words and events that I will be proud and even delighted to see. I’m picturing old-fashioned hard copies of photographs. I’m thinking of what will fill those pictures and what pictures will fill the mural. When I look at my mural from the right side looking back, I’ll be terribly disappointed if I can’t look at those pictures with pride. I don’t care so much how I physically look, as I do how much I am fully present. I care about how passionate I am. I care about how I feel about others. I care about how I do my work. I care about how I show up. I care about what I contribute. I care about what I create. I care about how I connect. I care about how I love.
It’s said that hindsight is 20/20, that when we look back, it is easy to see what decision we should have made, what path we should have travelled, what friend we should have called.
We don’t need to wait until the end of 2020 to achieve 20/20 vision. We can polish up our 2020 goggles right now. We have the capacity to know now what will feel fulfilling at the end of the year. By standing at the end of 2020 in our minds and looking back, we can start to fill in our murals with pictures that represent the best of ourselves; the best of our time; the best of our talents; the best of our relationships; the best of our skills; the best of our love.
Happy New Year.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What will fill my mural?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to fill your mural.