My “20 for 2020” List

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and many other books, has initiated a fun way to think about things you might want to accomplish in a year. She and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, who co-hosts the Happier podcast with her, started back in 2018 with an annual list. Part to do list and part semi-resolutions, the 20 for 2020 list gathers some thinking about what the year might bring.

Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

I wrote my list in January and have been working on it. It’s enjoyable and not too stressful. These are things I really want to do and try; writing them down has given me a little extra push to follow through. I’m assessing as I go, so we’ll see what happens!

I’ve decided to publish my list here as an extra piece of accountability. Maybe someone will come up with a brilliant idea to help me out or even want to tackle one of these with me? Let me know!

Here’s my list:

  1. Get a thistle tattoo.
  2. Try intermittent fasting 1x a week.
  3. Do 10 “real” push ups.
  4. Make ice cream two times.
  5. Go on a writing retreat.
  6. Read three books on writing.
  7. Attend a writing course.
  8. Do a 5 km open water swim.
  9. Visit London and another part of Europe.
  10. Get married.
  11. Write 2 blog posts per month.
  12. Keep a one sentence journal.
  13. Choose a signature colour.
  14. Grow my hair longer.
  15. Start a weekly family update.
  16. Read the bible more.
  17. Create a photobook.
  18. Get a new kitchen.
  19. Get a mammogram.
  20. Call my parents more often.

I’ll post an update in a few weeks.

#oneword 2020 WRITE

Choosing one word for the year begins with a promise. It’s a way to tell myself where to focus, how to spend my time, and what to accomplish. Using one word distills the essence of my wants and wishes.

I’m looking towards my next chapter. In a few years, I’ll be leaving my current job to move on to something new. I envy those who know what they want to do next, who have plans, who see the future clearly. I don’t. What I do know is that I need to do something meaningful, interesting, and satisfying. I’ve struggled to settle on what that might be. A different job? A focus in another sector? A new business? A non profit?

Photo Credit: mbiebusch via Compfight cc

Enter my #oneword 2020. It scares me to put this word down. All my previous #onewords (Grace, Explore, Action) have been easy. Those words implied some thinking and reflection, some small steps, and an overall gathering of direction. They didn’t scare me.

“Write” means I have to take this seriously. I’m signalling to the world and to myself that I want to be a writer. It’s true that I write in this space and for my job, and I’ve even started a semi-regular family update, but I want more. This is an entirely new feeling for me as I’ve never seriously considered that I could be a writer.

I spoke with a friend who’s a published author about this new direction. I was picking his brain about his writing process and he asked me some questions too. I mentioned that I’d been doing some reading about writing and he gave me a look. “What?’ I said.

“You could spend a lot of time asking, reading, and thinking about writing. That will lead to analysis paralysis.” His message was clear.

He’s right.

My #oneword for 2020 is WRITE. Here I go.

How to Appreciate Straight Talk

Blunt. Direct. Forthright. Candid.

I spent a year in Paris when I was 18. In 1982, the City of Light was full of possibilities for a young woman unafraid to explore. I met many international and French students that year. I was often introduced as “Suzanne – don’t mind her, she’s very blunt”.

My 57 year old self and my 18 year old self have a lot in common. I still talk straight, but I’ve learned to temper how, when and what I say. When I was 18 I was blunt because I didn’t think. Now I’m direct because I consider what’s needed to make decisions or to improve. Even so, my propensity for honesty is too much for some. Colleagues have insisted they want candour, yet it’s not always welcome. People don’t want to know what’s not going well, they don’t want to have their viewpoint challenged, or they equate disagreement with rejection. They’ve internalized the message that honesty is too risky, maybe from family members who taught them to “be nice”, employers who punished directness, or a friend who didn’t appreciate them saying how they felt.

I stand by talking straight. Saying what I mean leads to greater trust over time. People understand that I don’t have a hidden agenda. If they want and value honesty, it’s there for them. To be clear, honesty isn’t about being mean or unkind. Kindness must always be part of straight talk.

In the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott, she says to move away from the nice – you need to care personally and challenge directly to be a great boss. Another book, Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor talks about how specific steps towards candour makes companies more effective. There’s a move towards being direct and open: it’s good for people and for organizations.

We can only get better if we know how others feel, what isn’t working and what other options or opinions can go on the table. You might take these steps:

Ask for straight talk. Create a space where it’s safe for people to speak honestly.

Prepare yourself to listen carefully. Don’t justify or get defensive. What are they trying to say?

Ask clarifying questions. Make sure you understand. Use paraphrasing to seek clarity.

Don’t take it personally. Hurt feelings are the enemy of improvement.

You may have a situation in your life that you could try to solicit and appreciate straight talk. Perhaps a colleague, friend or family member? Please comment below to let me know how it went or to share your thoughts on straight talk.

This post is part of a series inspired by Steven M. R. Covey‘s Speed of Trust.