Published 12/19/2019 in The Maryland Daily Record
Here we are at the end of a decade.
When put in these terms, considering that we are at the end of a decade feels significant. In some ways, the last 10 years have felt like a lot of everything and nothing. These extremes are reflected in many facets of life today. High tech has taken over, and there is close to no place left where the application of technology isn’t impacting our daily lives. Yet even with all of this greater efficiency, so many of us feel totally overwhelmed.
Everything and nothing is better. Through the lens of politics, everything changed with a new president unlike our country has ever had and an administration that has done essentially nothing different from previous attempts to address the inefficiency that has plagued politics for some time. Regardless of the intensely personal opinions and feelings about the current president, there isn’t a person whom I have encountered who feels the system is thriving for all.
Everything and nothing is a theme that speaks to issues today that lack a gray area to be considered. These shades of gray that have long provided for the richness that makes up the melting pot of our country have been transformed into the black-and-white nature of this divided feeling today. As much as I dread this narrative and have grown tired of hearing about it, there is a newfound bit of hope with a fresh perspective of what is to come in the future of America, broadly and also on a very personal level.
This starts with the symbolic nature of the number 2020. Much to our disbelief, it is actually the year 2020. There is a funny Instagram post that shows a picture of Barbara Walters at the anchor desk of the show 20/20, the sign illuminated in the background, a reminder how long she has been telling us “This is 2020.”
As we know, 20/20, is a measurement of clarity and sharpness of vision, an individual’s ability to actually see, physically, out of his or her own two eyes. When we use corrective lenses, we hope to improve our vision to 20/20.
Vision transcends what we can see to what we can believe in for the future, how we envision a future with or without those things that hold us back today. So, 20/20 is the act of coming into sharp and focused clarity.
I share this perspective because I believe that the year 2020 presents us with a chance to embrace the parallel meaning of 20/20. This becomes our opportunity to see more clearly and to gain clarity in ways that many seem to be searching for. This is a year when things that matter to us collectively come more sharply into focus, when we seize on the opportunities we find in our daily interactions and dismiss the things that no longer serve us. We can make the small changes that create more fulfillment.
Some examples from friends that validate this theory relate to changes in rituals around holidays. More than a few friends recognize one source of their exhaustion in the routines of either traveling to or hosting relatives, events that ultimately just aren’t fun anymore. They crave a more intimate family experience and don’t want that to be undermined by the energy drain of having what feels like obligations.
One family decided to do a Disney vacation over Thanksgiving. Another has plans for next year to simply stay home. Small things that result in greater happiness.
In the small business world, there isn’t an owner I know who isn’t maxed out and seeking more support. In my firm, &Wealth, we are actively interviewing for the just-right candidates who can help to manage the growth of our business. The clarity for me as the leader is in being very sure of the characteristics that match best in our team. I need to be willing to stick with the process until the right people come along, regardless of how tempting it may be to hire someone just for the sake of the short-term relief it would provide.
My 20/20 is in recognizing that I can’t do everything myself and expect us to grow beyond my individual capacity. I am clear that the physical toll on my hands and forearms of typing and texting is real for me; it’s limited the other things that I love in my life. This is within my control to change.
Even as I type this column, I am mindful of this. The priority of being there with my son in this important middle school adjustment is super clear. It is these few things that have come into my 20/20.
What is your 20/20? What will be different and what will be better for you? We will see how our country establishes the 20/20 for our future direction. Baltimore City is certainly in great need of sharp clarity in consistent leadership and prioritization of this high-value focus. I plan to remain diligent in my progress toward 20/20 in 2020 and wish the same for you.
—Dorie Fain, founder and CEO of &Wealth