The start of a new year is here, and I’m nervous about bringing it up. How was the year? What comes next varies depending on who you ask. COVID-19 is still demanding attention and precaution, and the events leading to the 2020 protests demanding that Black Lives Matter makes my hands shake to type even now. I felt guilty because in ’20, I got promoted, met my girlfriend online, and self-published my first book. I wanted to focus on my passion project last year, even writing a post about a goal-achieving book, The One Thing, written by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Essentially, focus on your most important task every day by breaking it into smaller steps and time-block your commitment. But the curveball was yet to be thrown.
In need to focus on my health, mentally and physically, I am grateful for the results of my actions in 2020. I started the year with a cold shower challenge to stretch my comfort zone and see what I was made of when completing an uncomfortable task. From taking cold showers every morning for 62 days to start 2020, I began to focus the year on asking myself, what am I willing to do that’s temporarily uncomfortable to experience a long-term benefit that I want? Cold showers turned into accepting an invitation to talk to a woman that was in North Carolina, considering a move home to Washington State and exploring a potential relationship, and practicing the guidelines that call for social distancing and wearing a facemask in public. Both were uncomfortable to start, but every day, I focused on the one thing to do that day to do my best to move toward the future I want. That’s another lesson I recognize. Focus on moving towards the result I want. Not the situations and events that I don’t. I’m more likely to manifest what I don’t by focusing on it, so dating during COVID-19 cannot excuse what I do as our relationship develops.
I felt adamant that my book be completed before the end of 2020, so my actions focused on making that reality while settling into a new normal. I was alone in Seattle when Black Lives Matter protests were occurring, and neighborhoods in the city gained national attention. As a 6'3" black former athlete who's still somewhat in shape, seeing protesters with gas masks on getting shot in the eye with tear gas and randomly pulled off the streets made me question my own safety. Seeing black people from the vantage of a police bodycam be shot or mistreated during 2020 felt like what I believed was already a reality now being brought front and center to those with little experience with such discrimination on TV. I broke into houses when I was young and dumb and with the wrong crowd of friends. I never thought I could be shot and killed because of it. I am also a runner now and run at least 6 miles every week. I don't expect to be chased and potentially shot at when I'm on a trail, but in 2020, I began thinking while I was running, I hope this squad car I'm running past doesn't start following me because of some excuse like, I matched the description of a suspect. I've been drunk in a parking lot in a car at a fast-food restaurant and done something stupid too. Not running from a cop, but when a person is in fear for their life, WHAT DO YOU DO?
I also don't want to be at home and have someone barge into my apartment because I used to associate with someone I've recognized as a character I need to separate from. Then, when I do, I still can be shot and killed at home. Thoughts and prayers won't bring back the innocent, and yet, as a black man, this again is another reason my blog even exists. Look at my character consistently over time. I have never been arrested and have no reason to be afraid, but between processing how to navigate a new landscape containing COVID-19 and racial tension, I have to focus on what I want and what I can control. At work, for those I can still connect with as a sales rep, what I bring to stay connected to my network and relationships for my customers? How can I demonstrate my character to my girlfriend when the activities that show who we are and fill us with energy are restricted? It is a great time to focus on our communication together as a foundational piece of our relationship
I plan to focus on what I want to have in my life in 2021 because last year, despite all of the pain and fear, I still witnessed communities rise to the occasion to do what they could to improve where they could. In sharing Where the Change Happens with the world, I was hoping to help inspire one life by sharing the story and journey after heartache and divorce to find purpose and meaning in my life. Since publishing in November, the feedback I’ve received reminds me that we can provide relief by sharing our stories and being intentional about where and who we connect with. There will always be some aspect of what we don’t want to deal with, so what can you focus on, even if temporarily uncomfortable, to achieve a long-term benefit for yourself and your community?
In the book, You Are the PLACEBO by Dr. Joe Dispenza, he discusses the practice of mental rehearsal, saying that “this technique is basically closing your eyes repeatedly imagining performing an action, and mentally reviewing the future you want, all the while reminding yourself of who you no longer want to be (the old self) and who you do want to be. This process involves thinking about your future actions, mentally planning your choices, and focusing your mind on a new experience.” Our chance to impact 2021 is here now, and this practice could be the difference between being prepared to have your best year this year or accepting there’s curveball coming you are not prepared to hit. In the words of Joseph McClendon, “The spoils of life ultimately go to those who do.” May love find you and your family a stronger together in 2021.
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