Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2022!

Don’t worry, that’s not a typo.

Nor does it mean that you’ve missed a whole year (although we probably all feel like we could have done with a little less 2020).

But I want you to imagine for a second that it’s almost January 2022.


Well, although we’re all going to probably feel a lot better psychologically in a few weeks time, the fact is that the situation on January 1 2021 will look a lot like the situation in late December, 2020.

In fact, in the UK and US things might even be worse in January when the post-Christmas spike hits. (And we used to think that Brussels spouts were the worst thing about Christmas dinner.)

Even though we have several vaccines available, most of us are far down the waiting list and many countries might not see a vaccine until late 2021 or even later.

So January 2021 isn’t going to magically make everything better.

However, I’m not here to be the COVID Grinch. Instead, I want to suggest two positive exercises.

Plan ahead for 2021

The first exercise is to think about what do you need to do next year so you will meet your objectives and end 2021 in a strong position. Even though we’ll go into the New Year with a lot of positive news, we’re still operating under COVID-rules so let’s plan accordingly. Start thinking about what you want your organization to look like when you get to January 2022.

Start with a review of this year to get ready for 2021. That’s going to help you look at the bigger risk issues that you need to take into consideration and to identify lessons learned from 2021 that need to be applied.

Next, get operational. Take a look at the ‘Operating under COVID-19 constraints’ webinar I did back in April (It’s on the COVID resources page about a 1/3 way down). The situation you’re facing now will be different from back then but re-run that exercise and think about what your operating environment will look like through 2021.

Maybe you can stick with what you’ve got in place now.

Maybe, you’ll need to make changes.

Whatever the case, think about your game-plan for 2021 and be proactive.

2020 was a very reactive year for many organizations. 2021 is time to get back into the driving seat.

Look back from 2022

The second exercise is to imagine it’s January 2022 and think back to what you will have achieved.

  • What went your way and helped speed you towards your objectives?
  • What opportunities were you able to take advantage of?
  • What didn’t quite work out?
  • What got in the way of your plans?
  • What hit you from left-field?
  • What else could you have done with the time and resources you had?

That’s going to help you find holes – and spot opportunities – in the plans you’ve just built but it will also have a positive effect on your outlook. Similar to an athlete visualizing his or her successful performance, this will help you go into next year with a positive mindset because you’re thinking about 2021 as a successful year.

From my personal experience in the military and endurance sports, the alternative – thinking things are going to be a disaster – is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have enough failures and DNFs* to go around so there’s no need to test this yourself.

I realize that seeing the silver-lining can be hard as a risk manager. After all, our job starts with us working out what can go wrong. But we’re also supposed to plan a route through those problems to success so avoid staying in Eeyore mode too long.

Back to the present

This has been a hard year for many people and, sadly, January 2021 won’t miraculously change everything. However, I truly believe that things will be dramatically different in January 2022 but we won’t be able to get there, or to take advantage of those changes, unless we make plans.

So why not take some time and think about what you want things to look like in January 2022, and what 2021 will look like when you get there. That way, you can end 2020 on a positive note and set yourself up for success in 2021.

Photo by Jeremy Lapak on Unsplash

What do you think? Leave a Reply