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Was 2019 Rough?  Here’s How to Make 2020 Better …

Angie Morgan, December 16, 2019

2020: Be a SPARK

I can’t begin to tell you how many people I’ve talked with this past year who are throwing their hands up as a sign of surrender and proclaiming they’re ready to start over.  They can’t wait for 2020.

It seems the collective sentiment is that 2019 was a rough year.  In fact, Dictionary.com claimed the word of the year was “existential.”  They shared that this word kept coming up in searches and their interpretation is that people are grappling with their existence/the point of it all.

Doesn’t that sound depressing?

It’s hard to lead yourself, let alone lead others, when gloom and doom abounds.  It’s by far easier to give into the negativity and hopelessness of it all when the dark clouds seem to follow you everywhere.

Now, I’m a perpetual optimist.  Yet, I’ll be the first to admit that 2019 was challenging.  I experienced many personal trials, to include finalizing a divorce, which made this year one that I’d like to close the books on.  With that said, 2019 was also full of so many amazing experiences that I don’t want to forget or ignore it.

So, here’s the deal: Being a leader takes a tremendous amount of discipline.  Negativity, despair, blame placing, frustration … all those unhappy emotions are the low-hanging fruit of life.  They’re easy to grab and go with.  Sometimes they even feel good in the moment.  But, for a leader, they’re cancerous.  And they also don’t just affect you; they affect everyone around you.

Generating optimism, contentment, accountability, and action … that’s the work of leaders.  These emotions and behaviors aren’t always easy to come by, either.  They will not be readily available to you in your time of need.  So, as leaders, we need a process for cultivating them.

For me, I’ve found the following actions are useful:

  • Feed Your Mind.  Honestly, what are you listening to during your commute?  What’s fueling your mind?  Music, and the right podcast with the right tone, can change your attitude in an instant.  So can the right podcast or app, like Headspace.
  • Pay Attention to Your Talk Track.  Tune inward and listen to the words you’re telling yourself.  If you don’t like them, rewrite your script.
  • Take the Long View.  If you’re not happy with a situation, think about how you’ll feel about it 3 months, 6 months, or a year from now.  Perspective can help you adjust the level of negative energy and attention you’re giving a frustrating situation.
  • Go Outside.  Even if it’s 20 degrees outside, fresh air has a powerful, re-invigorating effect.
  • Breathe.  I’ve shared before that while I love the idea of meditating, I don’t enjoy the process … .  I’ve found, though, that 2-3 minutes of breathing is exactly what I need to get a more positive, productive mindset.
  • Get connected.  Humans are social creatures.  We need people.  Join an organization, volunteer in your community, or start a book club.  Your tribe can have a powerful, positive influence over you.

The activities above are disciplines.  While it’s okay to experience less-than-best emotions, I mean we’re human after all, acknowledge them for what they are and do the work to get yourself to a better place.  Remember – leaders influence and inspire.  When you bring your best self forward, you’re in a stronger position to be a spark for others.

PS What do you do to adjust your mood?  I’d love to hear.  Email me at amorgan@leadstar.us.

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