Happy New Year, everyone. It’s hard to believe that it’s 2020 already. I can still remember when the year 2000 sounded impossibly far off and futuristic. There was a lot of fear that surrounded the coming of the new millennium. Most of it was driven by the increasingly large role that technology was beginning to play in our lives, the rapid pace of change that came with it, and the worry that our over-reliance on it could bring civilization to its knees.
Twenty years after the Y2K hysteria, technology continues to drive massive changes to the way that we live and work. Moore’s Law tells us that the pace of these changes has never been faster, and will never be this slow again. That means that there is a lot of pressure on our businesses and institutions to keep up. There is also tremendous pressure on individuals, who find themselves adapting to new ways of doing things, the loss of loved ones, career changes, and more with each passing year.
Some people thrive in our rapidly changing world, while many others struggle. As we ring in the New Year and prepare to see what changes it will bring, I thought I’d offer a few words of advice and encouragement to those in the latter group.
- Those struggling with change often place very high value on things like historical precedent, their current state of being, or a particular person that they associated with “better times.” If this is you, allow yourself to grieve for the loss of what’s come before. Grieving isn’t just our emotional reaction to the death of a loved one, though that’s how most of us tend to use the word. Grief is a process of transition following the loss of anything that we hold dear. It’s all right to be sad or upset about a transition of leadership, the deterioration of your health, the loss of someone you love, or a change in the direction of your career. Remember the way things were. Celebrate it. Mourn the loss. Then, turn the page.
- Adopt a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that you can grow, adapt, and evolve over time, and that change is one of the primary contributors to our personal and professional development. Contrast this with a fixed mindset, which says that everything is static and we can’t grow ourselves beyond a certain point. A person with a fixed mindset typically fears change because they are concerned about being left behind or consigned to obsolescence. We are all capable of growing and adapting to change if we endeavor to do so. Get out there and learn something new. View the world from a different perspective. Believe that you can get better. Because you can.
- Take note of what’s happening in front of you. Look at what’s happening in your life, at your office, and in your community. You aren’t betraying the past by paying attention to now or looking ahead to tomorrow.
- Stay optimistic. Just because things are changing doesn’t mean they are changing for the worse. Despite what the media may tell us, there is plenty of reason to be grateful for the changes that are occurring around us every day. People are living longer with a better quality of life than ever before. Fewer people die by violence than at any point in human history. The crime rate continues to decline. It’s easier than ever for people to stay in touch or exchange ideas. New technologies have made just about every task imaginable cheaper and more convenient than ever before. All of these are good things, and we have every reason to expect that they’ll continue to get better.
- Stay ambitious. Establish goals. Don’t anchor yourself to the past. It’s always a bit sad to hear someone talk about their best days like they’re behind them. They don’t have to be. Always continue to dream, to seek, and to strive for something. The one who says they can and the one who says they can’t are usually both right. Which one will you be in 2020?
The person with one eye fixed on where they’ve been has only one left to see the way forward. Our world is changing. It isn’t going to stop, and the pace of change is only going to accelerate as time goes on. Embracing change can be difficult, but it can also be extremely rewarding. When the winds of change begin to blow, try to remember that they can propel you forward if you’ll just unfurl your sail and turn into them instead of desperately fighting to hold course.
Come what may, I wish you all smooth sailing in 2020.