As different as we all may approach life, we share something in common around the start of the new year. We look back to figure out if our last year was a success, and we look ahead and make sure we put our best foot forward. Amid all the resentments and resolutions, we find some sort of comfort in knowing what good looks like. Well, as we ushered in 2021, we really didn’t have that luxury, did we? A global pandemic, two hurricanes, economic uncertainty, political divisiveness – that’s what we had. 

In evaluating my year it’s easy to dwell on the activities neglected and boxes that have gone unchecked. My to-do lists were more like little bonfires set ablaze in my notebook begging to be put out. I had to put soul-satisfying initiatives aside to focus on the simplest of tasks and truly go back to basics. My clients were seeking unemployment benefits to put food on the table, assistance to rehire employees, or advice on how to boost local business while trying to stay afloat. It was anything but normal for our office, but was the work good

After taking a step back and examining the impact our organization had made, the people we had assisted, and the businesses that were able to get what they needed, there was only one answer. YES! Of course, it was good, in fact, it was great. But in order to accept that, I needed to first redefine success.

Have you taken a moment to think about what success will look like in 2021? Have your goals changed, or did you just scribble “2021” at the top of last year’s list and call it a day? It is important to establish what needs to be done, what limitations can stand in your way, and how to adapt. 

Here are some guiding principles that I’m using to kick off the new year and my new perspective. 

  • Business is not “as usual,” so it’s time to adapt! If your efforts typically rely on in-person meetings and events, it’s important to craft a new strategy. Although restrictions are loosening, attitudes on working from home are also changing. This doesn’t mean these old ways are out of the question, but by incorporating virtual and digital know-how into your toolbelt you’ll set yourself up for success regardless.
  • “Nothing is particularly hard when you divide it into small jobs.” Henry Ford knew how to be productive, and it’s not super complicated, as suggested in his quote. The work can seem insurmountable when you’re bogged down with details. But if you break up a large project into smaller, manageable tasks, you’re much more likely to make meaningful headway and not lose hope. We need to abandon the all-or-nothing attitude and get okay with incremental changes and small victories. Once you get some momentum, you’ll be surprised just how much you can achieve. 
  • When it comes to connections, what’s old is new again. Focus for a minute on relationship management and maintenance rather than business development. Now is a good time to reinvigorate contact with existing vendors, customers, and friends. After you’ve re-engaged, develop a way to have two-way communication throughout the year. 

Redefining “success” leaves us poised to really begin to reimagine “what’s next.” Whether we run a business, volunteer for a cause, or manage a household, there are opportunities to pause, pivot, bailout or double down. As we stumble into the new year let’s not forget, we are all experiencing this transition together. This moment in history can teach us a lot if we’re willing to listen.

Written by Anne Falgout, VEDA Executive Director