I find myself in a much different place or mindset this holiday season than in years past. Like most people, the holidays represent a time for me to slow down and spend time with family, friends and loved ones while recharging my batteries. The year 2020 has obviously been different – the pandemic continues to rob us of time together and many have struggled with physical and mental health, isolation, job loss, concerns over distance learning, financial stresses and more. In the end, I believe 2020 will represent a pivotal point in our history for generations to come and likely remain the single largest obstacle that the world will have faced in the coming decades, if not the century. 

Yet for all its negatives, I believe 2020 also gave us some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and the perspective to: 

  • Make resolutions that last – With the previous nine months behind us, we can now create some of the most important New Year’s resolutions we’ve ever made – ones that can be sustained for years and years instead of fading away within just weeks or months. 
  • Live what matters; Discard the rest – My resolution last year was to be more “present” in 2020. I wanted to be intentional with time management and commit myself to what was only most important. I also vowed to be truly attentive with those I was with. I’ve learned that it is about both quantity of time and quality of time.  

Hectic lives and distractions have always made “being present” a challenge. I, for one, have trouble saying “no,” and it is easy to commit time to areas that don’t align with priorities or pull us from the more essential areas of life. This leads to a cluttered schedule and a cluttered life.  

Yet 2020 gave us all the unique chance to get off the “hamster wheel” and declutter our lives.  Greg McKeown, the author of The New York Times bestseller, “Essentialism,” speaks to this very point. He characterizes essentialism as “the disciplined pursuit of less” and an essentialist as someone who “pauses to discern what really matters” vs. “reacting to what is most pressing.”   

  • Encourage others to declutter – Imagine the benefit to your firm and your employees if your business can declutter. I believe it can lead to an enhanced employee experience, improved corporate culture and more time to focus on growth and improvement, instead of being in a perpetual reaction mode.  
  • During the pandemic, it became clear to many firms that we can provide more flexibility concerning where and when our employees work. We learned that some travel can be replaced with virtual meetings or time saved on commuting can improve both productivity and work-life balance. A rigid workday schedule is no longer the only viable model. 

As Julio Vincent Gambuto wrote about opening back up after the pandemic in “Preparing for the Ultimate Gaslighting.” “This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred opportunity to get rid of the bull**** and only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud. We get to Marie Kondo the s*** out of it all.”   

I am now ready to put all of this back together again in 2021 with clear awareness that my family, friends and MJ colleagues, clients and business partners are essential items in my life. So, here’s wishing a happy holiday season to all, and we look forward to brighter days ahead.