2020 is not over yet.
And given what the year has already entailed, just acknowledging that there is more time left in this calendar year may well have filled you with a twinge of stress or outright existential dread.
You wouldn’t be totally unjustified.
In a year in which we have all felt pretty powerless over circumstances — a pandemic, a society-wide reckoning with race, environmental catastrophes, political upheaval, and more — I want to encourage you to do break away from the stories of stress, anxiety, and dread.
Instead, I am here to nudge you away from reciting another predictable story — as justified as it may well be — about how bad, unwanted, and uncertain these final weeks of this year may well turn out to be.
We are still allowed to believe, hope, smile, laugh, feel joy, and create meaning and significance today — even in a year as troublesome and heavy as 2020.
We can live our stories on our own timelines and tell them with confidence, poise, grace, and purpose — without disrespecting the significance, gravity, weight, and importance of the social and political narratives of the year.
There is still good to be had, found, and received in the remaining weeks of 2020.
We still possess personal power and authority to reclaim the stories of our years that feel as though they are being “told for us.”
I want to encourage you to lay claim to the rest of your year — and, with it, to self-story the remainder of your year, on your terms.
As we live alongside the many heavy collective narratives that continue to bear weight on our hearts and minds, what remains of 2020 is, as it always has been, a story of our own choosing.
Because, even in 2020, we remain the authors of the stories of our lives.
Your Story Is Yours to Tell
When I wrote to you last, I shared the story of how my family marathon-celebrated the remaining major holidays of 2020 over six days this past October.
Our decision was first fueled by an earnest desire to celebrate the holidays while we could be together and enjoy them as a family.
And yet, to me, friend, my family’s decision wasn’t just pragmatic
Celebrating our holidays early — on our own terms — was an act of reclaiming the story of our year for ourselves: a story that might otherwise be “told for us” by events and circumstances outside of our own control.
And from what I gather from many conversations with my coaching clients, email exchanges with readers like you, and chats with friends and peers, this seems to be one of the more pronounced (but perhaps overlooked) sources of anxiety and stress for so many people in 2020:
The feeling that this year has been one long experience of our own stories feeling “told for us.”
It is a troubling conundrum to be not only hard-wired for free-will, but to live in a society, country, and consumer economy that all prioritize free choice as the epitome of everything good and valuable in our world.
And yet, this year, we have had to reckon with the uncomfortable and unfamiliar feelings of having been deprived of usual choices, autonomy, and freedoms.
While the choices we have lost — choices like where we can go, or what we can do, or with whom we can congregate — are significant in their own ways, they are not the only choices we possess that define the stories of our lives, or our years.
Take, for example, my family’s marathon-eating through all of the remaining holidays.
It all started with a silly joke — a “What if?” of an idea — that evolved with some creative gusto and playfulness and thus became something much more meaningful for our family.
No, we didn’t have power or control over whether we would be able to get back together for the holiday season. But we did have the power to make one opportune week together into something special. Now, we’ll have a memory that we’ll surely never forget.
And we’ll be able to say that we did it in 2020.
2020 is Not Over Yet
Despite everything that is — and forever remains — outside of our individual control, we still possess a self-guided power to lay claim to the story in the remaining weeks of 2020.
Although certain big events — the US Presidential Election, race relations worldwide, and circumstances surrounding the pandemic — still remain outside of our own personal power to entirely fix or change, today, I want to remind you of something incredibly important but so easy to forget:
Despite feeling powerless to change the entire world, or all people, or every condition around us, we still remain in positions of personal authority to do something about stories that feel as though they are being “told for us.”
The final weeks of 2020 may be full of more heavy meta-narratives, stresses, and sources of anxiety. We do not hold power over them, and that’s okay.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t lay claim to them in your own small ways and tell the story of them for yourself.
The final weeks of your 2020 can honor, uplift, and reclaim your family desires to be together — someway, somehow.
The final weeks of your 2020 can unveil your creative impulses and turn a quiet curiosity into an embroiled passion.
The final weeks of your 2020 can open a door to what your future is meant to become.
The final weeks of your 2020 can be the time in which you make an important decision — one you’ve been avoiding, putting off for “someday,” or might otherwise “save” for the New Year Resolution season — starting now.
The final weeks of your 2020 can act as a crucial turning point in the course of your career, your creative journey, or your self-storied life.
The final weeks of your 2020 can be ones that spark your service-mission, or start the writing of your first book, or get your health and wellness back on track.
With the time we have left, we can still make a decisive stand for what our hearts desire.
We can tell our own stories — and take back the significance, purpose, and meaning of our year — by our own choosing.
We can reclaim 2020 by assigning it one, perfect-feeling word that encapsulates the story of the journey you’ve been on.
We can reclaim 2020 by throwing out conventions and doing things in a new and different way.
We can reclaim 2020 by doubling-down on what remains within our control and power, and in so doing, springboard ourselves into 2021 with confidence and determination.
What you choose between now and the end of the year could be enough to turn the story of your 2020 into one that you not only “survived,” but in which you chose to thrive.
By your choice and free will and clarity of intention, how you experience these remaining weeks holds the power to reclaim the story of what this year has been for you — even this year, of all years.
The year is not yet over.
And, thank goodness for that.
Because now, just like every year, we remain the authors of the stories of our lives.
How will you author the remaining weeks of your 2020?
Yours in this story, and the next we’ll tell together,