A Complicated Happy New Year

“Decision fatigue is real.”

Those exact words were sent to me by three separate colleagues the week before the holidays. And now that we’re back at our desks after the holiday break, I’m curious if we’re actually feeling any more rested. I’ve enjoyed slower days that blended together, full of good food, board games, watching sports on TV and lots of knitting. I’m grateful for the time, but the decision fatigue is still there.

How do I know? Because I cannot seem to land on a “big word” for 2021.

That’s out of character for me, as I’ve found the big word exercise helpful in past years. This time around, what’s emerging is a collage, not a focal point.

It’s a sign of the times. It already feels like my relationship with 2021 is complicated, and it’s day four. This lived experience of looking ahead has shifted my posture toward my key [2020] question of “Can we plan at a time like this?”  We can, but differently.

So, I’ve decided to embrace the ambiguity. The blog this month will place us right in the middle of some contradictions, as I’ve learned that’s a rich place to be, despite the discomfort.

Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash


To get us started, I’m leaning into something I learned while exploring a new Adaptability Quotient tool that will become part of my practice this year. One element of adaptability is mental flexibility, or the ability to hold multiple competing ideas in our head at once without getting too stressed about the contradiction. Another element of adaptability is the ability to unlearn, or to let go of beliefs that are no longer serving us well. I think of it as mental decluttering. Can you hear the tension? Being adaptable requires us to relax into the “both/and–ness” of life while also shedding outmoded ways of seeing the world.

So here’s my invitation as we start another year together: I suspect there are  contradictions that we simply need to observe, breathe through and live with rather than trying to resolve. At the same time, there are likely other habits or ideas that require us to channel Marie Kondo and bid them a grateful farewell.

It’s the “at the same time” part that makes this work especially hard. But I hope you can find both tasks freeing too. Like the deep breath that comes when the holiday decorations are all put away and the house feels simpler, or when we realize a problem isn’t ours to solve. That’s what happy new year feels like to me in 2021. (And it’s ok if you’re still tired.)

One Reply to “A Complicated Happy New Year”

  1. Great article! I suppose making many decisions, after an extended period in which much of our decision-making has been within the confines of situational or government mandate, is always going to be a challenge. Especially as we don’t yet know if those constraints are behind us. But we must all move forward I suppose. Thanks for sharing.

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