Last year was a rough ride, but we need to stay focused on what’s to come. Let’s put 2020 behind us and look toward the opportunities that 2021 will present.
It can be hard to remain optimistic when the world seems to continually be crashing down around us… But, let’s consider some positives:
- We are surviving a devastating pandemic and economic recession without destructive economic consequences.
- The stock market is up, most companies are doing (at least) okay, and many people actually have extra cash as a result of not spending like normal all year.
- Consequently, we have evolved to a K recovery economy. On one hand, the poor are struggling immensely. In contrast, the middle and upper classes are in the good to excellent range, while the top billionaires have made almost a trillion dollars in the last year. Hopefully, in the coming year, we will be able to appropriately manage this wealth disparity. Much of the current unemployment among the poor is in industries like entertainment, travel, and restaurants, which should recover fairly soon as the vaccine is made available.
- Despite setbacks, frustrations, and uncertainty, teachers, people working from home, and healthcare workers have actually done a remarkable job adapting to a very disruptive environment.
So, whatever you’ve endured, struggled through, or overcome last year, be proud of yourself. It was definitely a tough one. You deserve to take a moment and recognize what you’ve accomplished against some crazy odds. And even if it feels like all you achieved was keeping your sanity, that’s definitely still worth acknowledging!
Now, let’s focus some of the positive opportunities that 2021 has in store for us:
- The vaccine should dramatically reduce the impact of the pandemic by the second or third quarter. Entertainment, sports, restaurants, and travel should start to open up again, which would improve the economy and reduce unemployment considering the decline of these industries has been devastating to the poor.
- We will have a new President in 2021 and, whether you like him or not, having a new face in office will create lots of opportunities as well as conflicts. Don’t complain or hope too much about the impact of it all—just take advantage of the opportunities that arise.
- There’s a lot of wealth out there (although not distributed equally—it exists) and there is a desire to spend. Next year will surely be better than this year, which creates a positive economic climate to look forward to.
- In addition to increased attention on income and wealth, diversity will create significant opportunities. The most apparent is the revolution in female executive hiring without dramatic controversy. Jane Fisher is the first female president of a major bank, Kim Ng was made General Manager of the Marlins, Kamala Harris will be our first female (and first woman of color) VP, and Biden has already nominated key women to his cabinet. In each of these instances, the major reaction is, “What took so long?” They are all exceptionally qualified and deserving executives.
- There is also more focus on helping Black and Hispanic communities. Many people are actively seeking to buy from minority-owned businesses in order to support under-represented and marginalized groups.
So, here we are, after the end of 2020 and where do you find yourself? Are you healthier, richer, more successful, smarter, or happier than recent years? I find it helpful (both personally and professionally) to regularly assess my situation. Ask yourself if you’re maximizing your strengths, working to improve your weaknesses, and managing your inadequacies. How’re you doing and what can you do to be better?
I often find that one of the ways most people can improve is by being more open to risk. We are constantly talking about change, yet we fail to adapt to the fact that change is happening faster and more often than ever. We need to acknowledge and understand our own resistance. (Why do we have it? What are we really afraid of? Are those fears logical? What would happen if we let go of those reservations?) Once we recognize how and why we are holding back, we can embrace flexibility, which is key to surviving the inevitable: change.
As we transition into the New Year, it’s important to understand the changes that have taken place and the opportunities ahead. Set priorities and pursue them. The rapid pace of innovation, uncertainty, and technology are causing increased stress along with opportunities. We need to relax, be more polite, and focus on the positive. It’s there and hopefully 2021 makes it easier for you to find it.