It’s 2021 and for most of you, that’s a breath of fresh air (at least you hope it is).

I’m not going to beat around the bush; 2020 was a tough year for most people, however for some of us, it was a great one. I’m sure you’re wondering how anybody could have had a great year through the pandemic and what the difference is between those who had a great year and those who had a terrible one. I’m going to be blunt.

Some of the difference was in individual circumstance, but in my opinion, more of it was mindset.

Like Henry David Thoreau once said, “it’s not what you look at that matters, it what you see.”

Let me tell you something that might surprise you.

I’m grateful that I’m going blind.

Yes, you read that right. Losing my sight has afforded me vision. It’s given me opportunities to empathize with others and dig deep within myself to find strength in the midst of struggle. In many ways, losing sight prepared me to make the most of the pandemic-riddled 2020. What many might consider a terrible year has easily been my best. Throughout life, my eyesight has helped me become great at adapting and responding (not reacting) to the world around me. What I’ve lost in sight, I’ve gained in vision and the point is this. 

Time is valuable and it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you respond. I don’t care if 2020 was the worst year of your life, the best year of your life or somewhere in between. It’s 2021 and all that you have is this moment. What comes next are three questions to help you make 2021 your best year yet.

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1. Did you react or respond to 2020?

In other words, did you let the events of this past year passively control you, or, were you intentional, active and thoughtful in responding to the circumstances? This question is aimed at helping you reflect on how well you controlled the ‘controllables.’ Take some time to think about whether you reacted to this year (without intention) or whether you responded to this year (on purpose, with purpose). The answer to this question will be helpful in adjusting the sails for whatever this next year brings.

My answer: I’m proud to say that I responded to 2020. The highlight of the year was getting married to my wife and even though it didn’t go as planned (and her appendix burst a few days later), it was perfect. I had several moments of realization that I needed to be intentional with how I carried myself and chose to view my circumstances. I worked hard, I gave myself space to be creative, I met some incredible people, I learned a lot and I became a better version of myself. Overall, this was one of the best years, if not the best year, that I’ve ever had. I’m grateful for 2020 and excited for 2021.

2. Who do you want to be this year?

In other words, how will you define yourself for the year ahead? What qualities do you want to will you embody on a daily basis? What energy do you want to will you bring to the world around you? It might seem like a simple prompt, but it’s powerful. Human beings tell stories, and at the end of the day, we become the stories that we tell ourselves. This is a potent exercise to manifest change and create the story that you want for yourself in the coming year. With that being said, let me ask you, one more time; who do you want to be will you be this year?

My answer: I want to will be someone who makes other people better with the energy that I bring to the world. I want to be disciplined in doing the small things well on a consistent basis. I want to be intentional with how I set priorities and use my time to serve/love others. I want to be humble and relentless in my pursuit of the best version of myself.

3. What are you pursuing above all else?

In other words, what are you striving for and what is driving you to get there? It’s been said that the person with a strong “why” can endure almost any “how” (credit: Friedrich Nietzsche). Nobody knows what 2021 will bring, but we can all know what we strive for and what we stand for. So let me ask you, what are you pursuing and why are you pursuing it? Dig deep for this one.

My answer: I’m pursuing a version of myself that finds balance while keeping the perspective that life is bigger than me. I want to be able to fill up my cup when it needs filling but also selfless in the way that I serve the world and love other people. I want to be faithful in my walk with God and driven to make the world a better place. I’m pursuing a version of myself that is efficient, impactful and sustainable for the long haul.

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Last year, I ended this blog with the phrase “go make 2020 your best year yet” and without knowing what the world would throw at us, most of us felt like we could do it. Then the pandemic hit and it knocked us down. Some of us got up and made it a great year regardless. Others stayed down and had a bad year. I also ended last year’s blog with the following.

If nothing else, let this blog serve as a moment of awareness, because all true change starts with awareness. Take this as a reminder that, to an extent, you can take control of how this year unfolds and it starts now.

“Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.”

C.S. Lewis 

I’m very aware that the decisions I make now will change the trajectory of my life. I feel like I’m a plane headed across the world and the direction I choose will make a disproportional impact on my destination (compared to changes made later). I’m very aware that being 26 affords me an incredible advantage in decision making (I can take more risk and be more bold). I’m very aware that the intentions that I set at this moment will undoubtedly and profoundly alter everything that happens down the road.  Much like building a house, I’m using this time to build (and rebuild) a strong foundation for the years to come. Day by day, brick by brick and little by little, I’m being intentional with the choices that I make because I understand that how I do anything is how I’ll do everything. I’m pouring energy and effort into building good habits that will serve me (and those around me) down the road. Every single day I’m on the pursuit of the best version of myself. 

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I hope that you found some value in thinking through these questions as 2021 gets rolling. I want to thank you for taking the time to read, and as always, I appreciate you so much. This year is going to be a good one if you choose to make it one. If there’s anything that I can do to help make 2021 your best year yet, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me here. If you don’t get anything else done in 2021, just remember that this life is bigger than us. Love others, give your best effort, do the next right thing and lift others up. Bring value to the people around you and in all that you do, leave this world better than you found it. If you can do those things, this year is going to be a good one all the way around. Go make the most of this year and find the best version of yourself in the process. That’s it. 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor Frankl

Go make 2021 your best year yet.

Thank you for taking the time to read – I appreciate you!

Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT

IG: @joerinaldi.dpt

5 comments

  1. Pingback: Pandemic: Year One

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