When the clock strikes midnight tonight, we'll say goodbye to 2019 and hello to 2020. For many of us, the end of a calendar year is a good time to think about our challenges and accomplishments—and set priorities for the new year ahead. We asked our Idealist Careers writers to share their big 2019 achievements, their reflections on the 2010s, and their hopes for 2020.
In 2019, I saved up and was able to spend two months in Ecuador for Spanish immersion. I have always wanted to become at least conversational in Spanish, and I finally made it happen! I studied on my own for months before I left—I’m talking a 60+ day streak on Duolingo, y’all—then had intensive 3-hour classes five days a week at Outdoor Ecuador for a month (plus some surfing lessons—I can stand up now!) before traveling on to other areas of the country. I only started to travel internationally two years ago so it’s still new for me, and one thing I prioritize is making sure I am spending money with local companies run by local people.
One of my 2020 goals is to keep working on being authentically myself in the work that I do, and helping other people do the same. There are so many ways that we look to the existing systems or processes as a template for how to do things, and that has utility at times, but it can also keep us stuck and pre-defines the framework when perhaps we shouldn’t do that. What if you erase the whole board and start from scratch? I say this often, and I’ll say it again: “We’ve always done it that way” is not a good justification for anything. My goal is to be that lovingly pushy friend, colleague, and professional who challenges the way things are and opens with “What if?”
If I were to interview my 2010 self, I would be reminded of how difficult that time was for me professionally. I had previously switched gears from the nonprofit sector to education, getting my MA and working as an elementary school teacher. After realizing the classroom wasn't exactly where I wanted to be, I was stuck temping at an investment bank to pay the bills, and was feeling a little discouraged–and guilty–about it!
2010 me would be thrilled to find that in the future I ended up following one of my other passions, writing! Although I had always loved writing, I never considered it something I would do professionally. It would be a nice surprise to learn that 2020 Lakshmi would not only be writing for a blog about twin parenthood (okay, that would be a really big surprise), but would also be involved in the social-impact space again, writing for Idealist Careers.
Nisha Kumar Kulkarni
I think my 2010 self would be surprised to learn that I gave up my more “traditional” path in finance and consulting for self-employment and writing. She’d be shocked, but I also think proud of how I’m shaping my career path by doing work I love.
In 2019, I started writing about my experience with chronic illness. This has not only been therapeutic, but I’m proud of how that has connected me to others generously sharing their stories and tips, and advocating for people living with chronic illness. In 2020, I want to deepen my advocacy for people living with chronic illness through storytelling and support of impactful organizations. It's so important to elevate awareness and understanding for people who live with conditions that are oftentimes invisible and incurable.
One thing that makes me hopeful for 2020 is how more people--of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and religions—are actively learning and engaged in causes that they find meaningful. People aren’t afraid to care, and I believe that allows us to share more kindness and empathy with one another.
My 2010 self would be shocked that I had the courage to start my own business after enjoying the field of higher education for so many years. I had to build my confidence, skills and brand in order to succeed as a solopreneur. In 2010, I'm sure I would have thought it was unattainable. Now, three years in, I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing!
In 2019, I created new content around values-based decision-making and then facilitated group discussions around this topic with social impact professionals, college students, and leaders in my home city. In order to do so, I had to step out of my comfort zone and challenge my inner introvert. In 2020, I'll be directing significant effort toward deepening my understanding of the role of personal values in our decision-making, how we share what we value with others in an open and non-judgmental way, and how honoring our values in daily life can help us be more impactful and fulfilled. A challenge (which I will overcome!) is to then figure out how to engage others in this content in meaningful ways.
I work with and live near so many people of goodwill—business leaders, educators, social entrepreneurs, parents—who interact with their communities and families with kindness and generosity. Open-hearted people doing important work together succeed in the end. In 2020, I believe we'll see lots of examples of this occurring around the world.
What were your major achievements in 2019? And what do you hope to change in 2020? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter!
I believe in the power of good organizations to improve health, stability, and economic development around the world. For more than 10 years, I've been working with nonprofits and NGOs in the global health space to develop engaging, public-facing content and cohesive communications strategies. As an editor at Idealist Careers, I'm happy to offer actionable advice to social-impact professionals at all points in their careers.