Opinion

My 2020 Struggles will be my 2021 Strengths

The 12 Days of Christmas are my favorite time of year. Those last six days of the old year and first six days of the new year always feel like the ideal balance of reflection and intention. In past years, I’ve taken myself off to a coffee shop with my planner in hand, to evaluate progress against goals and to dream up big, new ambitious plans.

That’s not my plan for 2020 – not only because it’s still not safe to go sit in a coffee shop for two hours. I’ve decided to not even review what I had planned for 2020. In a year where something big has been cancelled every month, looking for more ways to see how things didn’t go to plan seems like putting lemon juice on a papercut.

Instead, I’ll be working on updating my “Chelsea Lists“: when I was forced to change how I spent my time, what worked and what didn’t? What do I want to carry with me into 2021, other than my sourdough starter and ability to wear leggings more often.

I was able to (virtually) attend the MA Conference for Women last week. As I listened to keynote speaker Awkwafina, I was struck by her insight that all we can each truly own is the energy and intentions we put out into the world. Another speaker reminded us that our 2020 struggles will be our 2021 strengths – and that we should never miss a crisis.

Awkwafina talking to me
in my living room.

This brings back to a touchstone of insight I’ve thought about almost daily since March 13th:


“You have been offered “the gift of crisis”. As Kathleen Norris reminds us, the Greek root of the word crisis is “to sift”, as in, to shake out the excesses and leave only what’s important. That’s what crises do. They shake things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most. The rest falls away.”

Glennon Doyle, Love Warrior

As 2020 comes to a close, I’m focusing on what I want to hold on to and carry forward.

For all my introspective, writer, planner friends: how are you adjusting your end-of-year reflection and beginning-of-a-new-year goal setting practices?

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