What Do You Need To (Still) Disrupt?

Last year around this time I wrote a piece, “If You Really Want 2020 to Be Different, Interrupt Something.” Ha! Little did I know the interrupting would be done for us and/or be of this magnitude. Whew…

So, I thought it might be useful to revisit and share portions of what I wrote back in December of 2019. First, because a health pandemic, a pandemic of racism and a fragile economy – alone or in tandem – don’t quell human desires. Shift them perhaps; alter what you want or how you go about getting what you want, maybe. But dismiss them? Nah.

Second, and to state the obvious…

…disruption never stops.

Fingers crossed that it won’t be on this scale for many, many more generations to come. But, heck, even the status quo evolves. As such, we will all continue to experience disruptions – some will be minor in scope; others will be major. 

Likewise, you will initiate some of the disruptions in your life. Others, like the year that is 2020, will be due to your need to recalibrate as a result of. 

Learned vs. Internalized

With either, there are lessons to be learned and internalized.

In my case, my lessons this year can be summed up in two words: One is depth – discovering the depth of my resiliency, my creativity, and my quick adaptability. The other is greater clarity, especially as regards my boundaries. 

What lessons did you learn this year? Were they lessons about what you want, what’s important to you, or perhaps who is important to you? Were your lessons also about resiliency, creativity, boundaries and clarity? Did you discover an internal strength you didn’t even know was there? Or, something else?

Like many others, I’m extremely excited about the fresh start 2021 represents. I’m looking forward to carrying this year’s lessons into 2021 like an Olympian winning the gold. 

And on the business front, I am really looking forward to doubling-down on what worked extremely well this year. I wish I could say this year’s success was strategic; it wasn’t. I simply paid attention, which is not something to discount, I know. But the question I asked last year rings true for this year, maybe even moreso: How do I need to be different?

This question to me is a way of internalizing lessons learned.

It’s important because there is a mistake you and I can often make during times of change. It emerges when you want things to be different but forget you have to change and be different on some level, too – be it in response to something like 2020, more specifically, or welcoming in the New Year, more generally.

In other words, what patterns of behaving and thinking need to be interrupted so that what you want to be different…can be different?

Whatever you need to interrupt and regardless of why, it’s a multi-dimensional activity. Therefore, I offer you the following: 

Invite (Embrace) Disruption

The clues for what you need to disrupt, or how to interrupt a disruption not of your choosing can likely be found in the lessons you learned this year, coupled with how those lessons are shaping the goals you’ve declared for the year ahead. It’s a combination that will reveal the barriers you need to overcome. And, you can use the practice of disruptive thinking as your tool.

You might need to disrupt your:

  • Mindset and perspective
  • Relationship with failure
  • Attachment to what others think (and maybe even your own sense of identity)
  • Unwitting tendency to be less than bold

When think of the above areas, what was disrupted in 2020, and what do you still need to disrupt in order to get what you want moving forward?

As the saying goes, doing the same thing isn’t going to net different results.

And as I always say to my clients, “you can’t just think your way to the other side (of a problem or challenge), you have to take action.

So, when it comes to my 2021 goals, here’s how I plan to be disruptive and interrupt some of my current patterns of thinking and behaving. I invite you to join me, by adopting what resonates with you.

Side note: “Disruptive thinking” is often associated with businesses (large and small) in terms of what they do to innovate and reinvent products and services – even to overhaul brands. Typically, a process is followed to challenge how a business conventionally thinks about and does things. What I’m sharing below isn’t a “formal” process in that regard. But I believe challenging the status quo isn’t just an activity for a business; it is also relevant when it comes to our personal lives, too.

Ways to disrupt

First, dissect

When you think about your 2020 goals, how did you adapt? What impact did your tweaks have on whether you met some of your goals or missed the mark entirely on others? Or, what goals did you decide to abandon altogether? 

Referencing your answers above, have you assessed what role your mindset played in your results; was there a similar mindset with the goals you met vs. the ones you didn’t; have you determined whether you played it too “safe,” took an appropriate amount of risk, or really pushed the envelope; what of your actions were done because of what you thought others would think; how bold (or not) were you – in both setting goals and going about achieving it? 

Did you embrace your agency? Or, did you abdicate control to “2020?” (Please note: These questions are not about self-judgment. They are intended to deepen your self-awareness.)

Seriously, for each of your 2020 goals dissect it using these questions (or variations thereof). And when you set your 2021 goals, ask the same. But more from the standpoint of what mindset will you need; identifying what success and failure looks like; what level of risk are you comfortable with, etc.

What’s useful about this exercise is that it gets you out of your head so that you can more clearly see patterns of thought and behavior and determine what you’d benefit from interrupting.

Ask different questions

2020 has invited me to lean more into simplicity – especially of the kind that’s under the umbrella of “less is more.” So much so that I challenged myself this year with a question: What would it take for me to generate X revenue in 2021 from selling one service? 

Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t sell my other offers. But this particular question is inviting me to consider tradeoffs and create boundaries that wouldn’t be required otherwise. In the process I’m interrupting old patterns about what I once thought was possible. And it most certainly feels disruptive.

What would be a similar question for you?

A different daily list

By their nature, most to-do lists focus on present day tasks. But I am not talking about that sort of list, here. I am talking about making sure there’s at least one thing on your to-do list that’s connected to your long-game – and not just what needs to happen “today.” Can you imagine how quickly you’d make progress if you adopted this approach (assuming you don’t already do this)?

Pay attention to your habits

Goals are achieved through the practice of habits. And while it is certainly easier to focus on the habits you aren’t practicing, but perhaps should. Or those you are, but shouldn’t. It’s also useful to take stock of your good habits to determine if they need to be refreshed or adjusted.

In other words, don’t assume the “good” habits that helped you navigate the immense uncertainty and the ups and downs of 2020 will automatically be the same that will help you achieve your 2021 goals.

Fuel for the Future

In the process of interrupting your patterns and doing things differently, you evolve and become a different person, too. Just think about who you are today versus who you were at the top of the year. 

I hope you’re proud as heck of yourself.

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