I know that 2020 may have been difficult for many, and I do not wish to diminish those struggles. The purpose of my Ode to 2020 is that I chose to approach the challenges 2020 brought me and my family with a positive frame of mind, and how that frame has created positive returns. This Manifesto for 2021is my wish to you, your family, and friends for a happy, productive, and invigorating New Year. To drive this hope to your home, I thought I’d share, personally, what was good about 2020.

Organizations, even my organization, were quick to put technology to better use.

2020 allowed me to work 100% remotely, something I had previously attempted to create buy-in for at the organization where I work, with little success. On a global level, the pandemic helped companies recognize that many positions can be done from anywhere, not only saving existing jobs but creating new ones.

From my home office, I have proven more productive and more in touch with the population I work with than ever before. I’m able to innovate, transforming what customer service looks like now, leading to a decade that will spawn new but increasingly collaborative work processes possible from anywhere.

Gone are the days of snatching a moment to connect in the hall or attending countless meetings that steal employees’ time and hamper productivity. Remote work forces employees to be productive by allowing them to experience increased flow or “being in the zone” while working. While remote working may be perceived as less collaborative, it actually facilitates more purposeful and deliberate coming together; it reinforces a sense of being present when interacting with workmates.

Prior to the pandemic, I rarely had an opportunity to engage with leadership. Remote work has enabled leadership to be more accessible and they’ve mentored connectivity by being more directly available to employees. Technology that was rarely utilized before is now fundamental to organizational team building and communication.

Zoom, MS Teams, Adobe Meetings, and cloud sharing – to name a few – are now a large part of building value-based interconnectedness between leaders and their workers. I believe we needed the pandemic to force us to let go of arcane business constructs in order to create space for new innovation that fosters agile and flexible processes.

2020 has been a year of letting go and inviting more in.

In early May 2020, I accepted a new position. It’s a position I have been trying to promote within the organization since late 2018. I wrote a job description for the position in 2019 and shared it with my now supervisor late in 2019. She used it as a baseline to create the position I am in now.

The role I left created two new positions. The transition was good for me, good for the organization, and good for the two new hires. Don’t get me wrong, I had to let go of responsibilities to make this move; letting it go was hard for me because so much of how I intrinsically identified myself as a professional was wrapped up in that role.

Six months later, I’m so invigorated by taking the leap to a new position. Moving forward created new opportunities for me and for others – as my old role was more equally disbursed throughout the old team – filling gaps in service by inviting more innovation and flexibility for those employees. Through the transition, other workers had new opportunities to grow their own skills reinforcing the organization’s commitment to adult learning and continuing professional development.

If I learned anything from this year it is that if you let some things go, there is always something else waiting to fill in what had been lost; usually, that something is better.

2020 has brought me a shift towards gratitude for family.

As a Mom, it’s really amazing to be a “sidelined” parent while my sons apply what they have learned in the act of becoming creative and talented contributing humans in their own right: they are both adulting in ways I could have only dreamed of back when I was their age. I cherish this gift that gives me so much joy – it feels like I did good bringing them into this world – you know?!

There is a specific truth with finding love in middle-life. I had not chosen well in the past, finding I had too much comfort settling for less: my preceptive worth continues to grow as I move forward, and my husband changes that perception of worth. The truth is I was highly uncomfortable getting to know him – but as I pushed old, maladaptive behaviors away, a new way found me open to acceptance in January of 2018.

Surprising friends and family – even myself, I married my husband in the summer of 2018 after a very short five-month courtship (do people say that anymore?).

Our romance was and continues to be so enlightening and light and lifting and full of a good amount of funny; it is just so very joy-filled. We are aspiring to develop an even deeper friendship and cultivating love. I’ve, personally, never felt so loved and so accepted. He hasn’t tried to change me, nor have I tried to “fix” him. It’s been a wonderful time for both of us, and I can actually feel good about saying that on our behalf.

As two adults working remotely from our home offices, 2020 has allowed me to be thankful for the opportunities fast and deliberate change has introduced to our lives. I learned a great deal about kindness over the years, but 2020 drove a new, deeper understanding that has been cultivated throughout the 2020 pandemic. I am grateful I am not alone in this feeling as so many others continue to welcome kindness and give it more freely.

Which leads me to you and yours.

I encourage you to be fearless in your letting go, inviting less them and more us as we globally work to approach the challenges change brings. Approach them with innovation, creativity, and flexibility while remaining agile through the gift of empathetic and willful compromise, tempering it with cultivated compassion.

I hope this New Year’s greeting reaches you with warmth, kindness, openness to letting go, and the sight to do more than simply imagine possibilities – develop in yourselves and encourage in others the strength to act on the opportunities this new year brings.

Be well. Be happy. Live to live life joyously.