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Happy New Year

By Gene Shirokobrod

My wife, Jaimie, and I like sushi. On occasion, I pick sushi up on the way home from a little family owned restaurant called Paper Lantern. As common with many Asian restaurants they include fortune cookies with take out. My kids love them. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy seeing what the fortune holds. 

A bit ago I opened a fortune that has stuck with me. I removed the plastic wrapper, that protects the fortune cookie with impressive dedication. Then I looked down and saw: “You can do whatever you set your mind to.” Sounds like something a wise fortune cookie would say, right? But for some reason it didn’t sit quite right with me. And it took me until now to process why. As I look back at 2020, and forward to 2021, the wisdom of the fortune makes perfect sense. 

Mindset of Growth

New Year’s is an enticing psychological transition of closure into beginning. I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They are more convenient than effective. Too many of us suffer from annual resolutionitis. Typical resolutions do not get anchored with measurable goals. As the saying goes, what gets measured gets done.

So is there any benefit at all? Yes, there is. It all starts with mindset. And this is where the fortune cookie begins to make sense. The fortune said I can do whatever I set my mind to. There was no promise of success or achievement. When setting our resolutions or goals too often we are thinking about what we want to achieve or how we want to feel once success happens. Yet, we largely ignore the details of the process. The doing. We excitedly look forward to the destination, yet overlook the path to get there.  

I’ve come to realize that living with a growth mindset means having a framework for doing. It needs to be audited, analyzed, and adjusted. Looking back at 2020, the anticipated path required significant road work. Imagine heading out to an important event. You know the directions. You know when you should leave, and how long it should take. Then you start driving, and you see the dreaded single file car line and road work signs. And you inch closer and closer until it’s your turn to pass. Your destination hasn’t changed. The unexpected road work is beyond your control. So how do you respond? Do you honk your horn, yell into the endless void, or accept what is in front of you? Most of us all do all of the above. Yet, many of us hold on to the feeling of being stuck even once the path opens up.

Be Impulsive

In 2020 we were forced inward. We had to close ourselves off from others for the betterment of all. Social distancing, quarantine, and isolation challenged us. Life can go on, but the quality of living takes a brutal hit. There are many ways to recharge your mind and spirit in 2021. I’d like to suggest one way. “Never stifle a generous impulse” was one of Bill Hewlett’s favorite saying. In 2021 be impulsive with your generosity. Kindness and generosity will help re-establish our friendships, relationships, and communities.  Last year we protected our bodies. This year, we need to look after our mental health. Speaking of health…

The Inescapable Wish

2020 has taught us a lot. The most important lesson? Health is critical. Every New Year we wish each other health and happiness. We strive for happiness. What about health? We saw this year that if global health is at risk, everything else is a secondary concern. Our societal constructs crumble if health is not secured. But why must it take a global pandemic to see that? Year after year we become more sedentary, obese, and generally unhealthy. 2020 was a brutal spotlight on what it looks like to not have control over our health and well-being. As we move into 2021 and thankfully begin vaccination of COVID-19, please consider your health. You’ve made tremendous sacrifices in 2020 for health and safety. In 2021, you will be safer. But will you be healthier?  You don’t need to wish for health. It’s attainable. Prioritize it. Health is a path always open to take. 

The Theme for 2021 

As 2020 ends and 2021 begins, I’d like to offer a suggestion. For 2021 instead of a resolution choose a guiding theme. For me that theme will be transparency. Care to join in with me? If you are struggling, be transparent and talk to someone. If you’re succeeding, don’t hide it, someone might need to be inspired. Most importantly, if you are not doing what makes you happy then be transparent with yourself. In 2020 we lived under constant unyielding uncertainty. For 2021, remember you can do whatever you set your mind to. Your path is clear, set your mind to exploring where it takes you.

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