A Look Forward

January 02, 2021 6 min read

A Look Forward

“Let yourself be silently [or loudly] drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.

It will not lead you astray.” 

Rumi

“I get by with a little help from my friends…gonna try with a little help from my friends.”

John Lennon/ The Beatles


2021 will be my 15th year as a Life, Leadership, and Executive coach, and believe you-me, in all those years, I’ve seen alot of approaches to New Year’s Goals, Resolutions, Words of the Year, Intentions, Visions, etc. come and go. 

So many approaches, all promising to be “The One That Works”! 

But do they, really? Reliably? Consistently? I mean, given an honest answer to that question, plus the year we’ve all just lived through, shouldn’t we just dismiss them all, cross our fingers, and throw ourselves into whatever maelstrom 2021 becomes, hoping we’ll make it out the other side? 

And yet, and yet…here we are at the turn of the year, and all over the world, despite the exhaustion and challenges 2020 delivered, I guarantee…

Inner skeptics arelosing out to the human urge to make a steaming hot mug of joe, flip open a journal, find a smooth-writing pen, and tuck into a juicy list of year-in-review and year-to-come questions. 

Inner saboteurs are rolling their eyes as New Year meditations are cued from favorite gurus and folx get comfy, close their eyes, and take those first deep, centering breaths. 

Inner critics are jabbering on in the deep recesses (okay, maybe mid-to-forefronts) of people’s minds as they still determinedly clear off the dining room table, dig out their best scissors, find old copies of O Magazine, grab half-full bottles of Elmer’s, and lay out the poster board, getting to work on the next vision board. 

And so with a battered, determined angel on one shoulder and a snarky, loud devil on the other, wewill stride into 2021, cautiously hopeful, a little more clear, and loaded for bear with the results of our New Year’s explorations and creations. ‘Cause that’s how we roll, dammit. And here’s why:

These New Year’s rituals tap into the extraordinary ability we human beings have to envision a future that doesn’t yet existand to imagine and commit to the actions it will take to create that future. If there’s one superpower we collectively have as a species, THAT’S IT. 

And thank goodness, because, as we know, the multiple, monumental challenges that 2020 exposed and delivered haven’t magically vanished with the turn of the calendar: 

    • We are still globally and annually consuming 1.6 times what this planet can provide. 
    • The climate crisis is still, well, a crisis, and the clock’s ticking. 
    • Social, racial, environmental, economic and food justice issues still need all of us to think and act in new ways. 
    • The pandemic continues. 
    • We carry more grief in our hearts from the past year than many of us have experienced in our lifetimes so far. 

And on it goes.

That’s the bare bones of it. 

It’s what we’ve created, and it’s what we’ve got. So now, with all of that…


How to move forward?

I’m not going to tell you which New Year’s approach is “The One”. Spoiler alert:there isn’t One

But there are at least four through-lines, commonalities, that show up reliably, and there’s a reason they do. 

So, grab your journal or meditation or scissors or whatever floats your boat this January, and in whatever process you use to move into 2021, make sure you’re factoring in the following:

1. Balance The Big Needs + Your Wellbeing* 

More than ever, transforming the issues in our lives and world requires balancing an outerand inner focus:

    • Letting ourselves be drawn by issues bigger than our individual selves, AND 
    • Shoring ourselves up from the inside out, over and over again, so we have the energy, stamina, clarity, and ability to create what want and need.  

People tend to fall more heavily on one side or the other: draining ourselves in an effort to passionately solve big issues or continuing to focus primarily on our own wants and needs, hoping others will handle all those scary issues “out there”. But, we gotta face it: “out there” is quickly becoming “right here”, and it’s clear that draining our tanks in an effort to help doesn’t leave us energized and ready for more. 

As we move into this new year, job #1 is to get courageously clear on the bigger issue(s) you will devote yourself to impacting. (How? See below!)And getas clear on how you will courageously take care of yourself in the process.

2. Move Toward* 

Sometimes, the best way to start getting clear is by imagining what wedon’t want…habits we no longer want to continue, patterns we want to break. “I don’t want to feel so sluggish all the time.” “Life would be great if I had less criticism in my love relationship.” “I want people to stop talking over me in meetings so I can contribute my points.” Good to know!But don’t stop there. 

You’ve got to flip that coin and articulate what that means you DO want, and for a very practical reason: this whole process is about creating a different future, andit’s impossible to move toward a “not” or a “don’t” or a “less than”

The place to start is to “flip the question.” E.g., “If I don’t want to feel sluggish, whatdo I want?” “If there was less criticism,what would there be more of?” “If I wasn’t someone who got talked over,who would I be being instead?” 

3. Get Specific*

Our brains love concepts (world peace! vibrant health and a sexy bod! a great career!), but brain science tells uswe don’t end up taking sustainable action from concepts alone. 

A critical bridge between concept and change-creating action is giving your brain a picture of what that change will LOOK like…getting specific and seeing, in your mind’s eye,what you will be actually doing that will have the future you’re envisioning come to pass. 

This is where tried-and-true structures like SMART goals do come in handy. (Google it! And consider replacing the traditional “R” and “T” aspects with “Resonant” and “Thrilling”. Much more fun than the original.)

4. Create Partnership*

I like to think I’m pretty capable of making the changes I want to make all on my own, but the truth of it? The process of creating change is MUCH more likely to be successful (and fun) when I also create and accept support along the way.

Want to dig into a social issue you haven’t yet faced? Find a friend who’s also interested, or maybe even already involved, and ask them for guidance or to team up.

Want to build muscle and increase energy? Set a clear goal to not only go to the gym, but to make two or three new friends there in the first week. Become part of the community, quickly. Or, bring your own friends with you!

Want to increase your ability to be heard and make a difference at work or where you volunteer? Confide in a trusted friend or colleague and ask them to give you constructive feedback after meetings. (Deep breath, I know. Scary, but powerful!)

Mostly, remember that however you go about it, creating a new future—whether in your individual life, our collective lives, or somewhere in between—isn’t reserved for the exceptional or privileged. It is hardwired into our humanity. And that includes YOU. So go forth and take on 2021. We are all, indeed, in this together, and that counts for a lot.

*And, duh! Ofcourse Nourish NYC’s cleanses hit on EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. THESE! :)

Investing in yourself via NNYC is investing in responsible, sustainable food sources, in supporting local businesses and jobs, in lifting up the local LGBTQ community, in the resilience and strength of your own body, and in a passionate partner that will continue to be there for you in 2021. It’s a no-brainer!

Bio:

Laura Neff has been a certified coach since 2006, working with thousands of clients and partnering with top coaches and leaders to empower people in their lives and purpose-full pursuits. Laura currently works as a consultant and coach withDorrier Underwood, a Charlotte, NC-based firm seeking to transform the future by transforming how leaders in global businesses think and act. 

In 2012, Laura and Julia Simon co-founded Nourish Charlotte, sister company to Nourish NYC, with Laura turning the company fully over to Julia’s leadership in late 2014. Since then, she has become Nourish Charlotte’s and now Nourish NYC’s number one fan, supporting the two companies however she can. 

Laura lives with her husband Robert, brother Bill, three dogs, two cats, and five very happy chickens on the outskirts of Charlotte.



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