Earlier this year, at the start of our first lockdown, I wrote about the dangers of blind hope.
A friend introduced me to the Stockdale Paradox, which seemed fitting at the time. We were all in full crisis management, dealing with school closures, businesses shutting down and all future plans going up in smoke.
To rely on hope and optimism wasn’t right (for me) back then. It was time for re-grouping, pivoting and taking action to adjust quickly to our new landscape for living and working.
As the year went on, there’s no doubt every one of us has been on one form of emotional roller coaster or another. We could meet friends and family again. We could go on holiday. And then we couldn’t. The almost weekly changing rules have been exhausting, even for the most adaptable of us.
And, right now, many of you are now facing the harsh ‘stay at home’ restrictions. Except this time, in the depths of Winter, rather than glorious weather and long sunny days that we had back in April and May.
With this backdrop, how do you look to the future?
How do you feel about making plans for 2021?
Writing this on the day after the Winter Solstice and shortest day in the Western Hemisphere, I take great pleasure in knowing that our days are now getting longer. After days and days of rain, I can see blue sky out of the windows of my new office. And despite having our Christmas family plans change, like many in the UK, I can feel myself joyed with the thought of having plenty of down time and living in PJs for the next couple of weeks.
And, as I reflect on the past year, the meaning of hope and optimism has evolved for me.
Hope isn’t wishful thinking.
It’s not wallowing in self-pity or waiting for someone to save you.
And yes, there is still much I agree with in what I wrote about hope in March of this year.
But if we don’t have hope, igniting ourselves to plan for our future is almost impossible.
We need to find a way of managing our hope so that it fuels us, rather than leaves us feeling helpless and crying under our duvets.
We can use our hope in a way that leads us forward into the future, and gives us the courage to make bold and brave plans.
To be able to dance with the idea that life has never been certain or guaranteed.
And that we’ve always had to cancel, change and adapt our plans, just maybe not to the level that we’ve experienced over the past year.
I found these words from Barack Obama about hope.
“Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”
There’s no doubt we need rest and replenishment over the holidays. We need to turn off our newsfeeds, to turn our backs on toxic and shaming conversations that have us pointing blame, and gather who and what we can to feel the gratitude of being alive today.
And through this, we can then let our hope grow and fuel our plans for 2021 and beyond.
To let us talk about the holidays we hope to take. The friends and family we hope to see and hold one day. The experiences, parties, weekends away and events we hope to be at.
Let your hope run free this Christmas season.
For it won’t be long before we have a new year, the snowdrops will be poking through the soil and the birdsong of Spring will be waking us up at the crack of dawn again.
Thank you for subscribing to my musings this year. It’s been one crazy time but having you to write to regularly has meant so much to me and helped me process the (often!) madness to create a way forward for my business, life and leadership.
Happy holidays and see you on the other side!
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
About the author
Karen Skidmore is a midlife leadership & business coach for entrepreneurs scaling their purpose & profit. Business Books Awards finalist 2020 & podcaster, Karen uniquely combines the being-ness and doing-ness of business to help you grow, without burning out.
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