Lead with Purpose in 2021

2020 . . . what a year it’s been—transformative (at the least) and undoubtedly life-changing. Who would have imagined four simple numbers could hold such weight? Yet here we stand—braving 2021 with a newfound strength we were unfamiliar with at this time last year.

Graduations, birthdays, celebrations—both big and small—were redefined, postponed, and reinvented. Little did we know that in the midst of a hard year, we’d overcome with flexibility, patience, and grit. Here’s to us! Here’s to making it through.

Caught Off Guard in 2020

If 2020 taught us anything, it taught us about the importance of resiliency, about pushing forward in the face of adversity, and about reevaluating ourselves and the very fabric of our society. It provided a new lens and allowed us to underscore what matters most. In the face of adversity and hardship, 2020 allowed us to pave new paths . . .

In the midst of COVID-19, everything we knew was completely redefined. Already established in our own routines and study skills, we were forced to rethink how we learn. Zoom calls, virtual lectures, and online office hours became the new normal. Experiences we looked forward to (for me, it was the first day of graduate school) were different—we had to get creative. Miles apart, we were finding new ways to connect with our peers and cohorts. Making this transition to a virtual world was no easy feat, but it allowed us an opportunity to exemplify our adaptability as we acclimated to a great many changes. We pushed forward in the face of adversity and navigated our way through an unprecedented time.

In conversations and protests surrounding anti-racism, we were reminded of the importance of representation, equity, and advocacy. As Verna Myers says, we learned that “diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance.” We worked to amplify our voices and reexamined the systems in place that were no longer serving our best interests. As students, we contributed to the reshaping of our academic programs as we offered insight, speaking from a place of experience. We led with purpose and started fostering change.

The presidential election of 2020 had us on the cusp of yet another source of change. Coupled with the stresses of a pandemic and the realities of the BLM movement, the presidential election found us in a tense situation . . . watching, waiting, and anticipating what would happen next. Not only was 2020 a taxing year due to the impacts of COVID-19, but it was further heightened by the presence of an election year.

Being Purposeful in 2021

My hope for 2021 is for all of us to take our lessons-learned from 2020 and lead with purpose in 2021. As we face a new year, I want to remind you of what you’ve accomplished. In the midst of an uncharted year, you’ve conquered a lot—navigating virtual classes, connecting in new ways despite the distance, and addressing equity and representation within your CSD programs and universities.

Sometimes life forces our hand, but now we’re better equipped to take on a fresh new year. We’re ready to take on any challenge that comes our way . . . ready to use our voices as an extension of our communities . . . ready to shape our own futures.

How to Lead with Purpose

So, how do we lead with purpose?

  1. Identify the skills you’d like to hone this year. Perhaps you want to make more meaningful connections or facilitate critical conversations with your peers. Be honest with your goals.
  2. Develop a detailed plan. Move toward your goals with intention. Locate communities to foster those meaningful relationships . . . or create space that will foster greater transparency and accountability through conversation. Find mentors who you can lean on to feel supported.
  3. Reevaluate your goals and plan along the way. Live consciously and consistently reevaluate what it is that will get you closer to your goals.

2020 was a huge year for learning and growth. Let’s make 2021 the year we take charge. Lead with purpose and cultivate your future—as a student, as an #aud2b or #slp2b, and as an advocate.

As you ring in the new year, how will you lead with purpose in 2021?

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