Looking Forward At Year End

2020 was a horror movie with an implausible number of plot twists. Remember when the big story was the devastating Australian bushfires? While January 1 won’t be a light switch, it is increasingly likely that we’ll take steps toward the “next normal” in 2021. In that spirit, we invite you to take this moment to look forward.

Look Forward To The Benefits Of A New Work Paradigm

Dropbox is going “Virtual First.” Harvard Business Review’s most recent cover story is on our Work from Anywhere Future. Knowledge workers are on the move. Our lives have been completely disrupted in innumerable ways. As you look toward the future of work, what goodness can you find?

  • With business travel largely eliminated, senior executives are more available than ever. Consider reaching out to someone you’ve always wanted to learn from for advice on your career or to build a mentor relationship. Or, as a leader, reach out to others to offer your time and counsel. This can be particularly valuable for underrepresented people.
  • With many conferences now virtual at a reduced cost, 2021 could be the year to finally go to that event you’ve always wanted to attend. Do some Googling in your area of interest, find a great event or two, then block the time on your calendar now.
  • If your organization is implementing a Work from Anywhere policy, spend some time imagining what that could mean for you. Is now the time to move back home to help aging parents or young grandchildren? Or to try living somewhere completely new? How about a house-swap with an old friend on the opposite coast for three months? Hawaii is even inviting remote workers to come, and is picking up the tab for the flight! Invite your employees to think expansively as well.

Look Forward To The Holidays

For many of us, the holidays are spent traveling, attending festivities, or hosting family and friends. This year, the season will be much quieter. Even as we grieve the loss of treasured time with loved ones, we can find new things to look forward to. For example:

  • Downtime. If you can, take the time off work that you normally would…and then replace all that running around with restorative practices such as sleeping, walking, and reflecting.
  • A creative alternative to the holiday dinner. If you’re skipping the big family get together, create a family cookbook filled with your favorite holiday traditions. There are lots of ways to do this from DIY to professional quality. Consider a Zoom holiday dinner where everyone shares a memory about their favorite dish.
  • Festive toasts, outside. Norwegians have an expression that will serve us all well this winter: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Grab a parka or blanket and invite one friend or family at a time to celebrate the holidays from your backyard or driveway. (Just make sure you’re following your community’s guidelines for outdoor socializing!) Make it festive with a warm holiday drink.

As we look to the new year with hope and cautious optimism, consider marking (and even celebrating) the coming year with these practices:

  • Rather than making the usual resolutions, carefully choose a word of the year that reflects your hopes and intentions for 2021.
  • Have a virtual year-end gathering with your team and use these prompts for a fun, engaging, meaningful conversation. Use breakout rooms so everyone can participate.
  • Contribute your time or money to a cause you care about. 2020 has exposed urgent realities—from hunger to climate change to systemic racism. Give some thought about how you want to make the world a better place and then get involved. You’ll reap plenty of benefits as well. If you have the flexibility to offer employees paid time-off for service in 2021, now would be a great time to announce it.

Oscar Wilde said, “a visionary is one who can find his way by moonlight and see the dawn before the rest of the world.”  Let’s look forward—and walk toward—the dawn of 2021 with intention and optimism.