I don’t think I know anyone who found 2020 particularly easy and I found the festive season much tougher than I thought I would do. This was the first time in my life where I haven’t spent Christmas with my entire family, and whilst it was lovely to be with my partner and our sons, the emotional rollercoaster of 2020 continued. 

I wanted to hug my parents, to see everyone with their own little quirks at the dinner table. To hear my Dad snoring in his favourite armchair at our house and to hear my mum laugh whilst playing family games. I don’t take any of this for granted, ever. And whilst recognising that amongst my partner and our four sons that I’m the only one whose parents are still together and that I don’t have to worry about ‘choosing’ where to spend my time or not having to worry about upsetting anyone, I’m very lucky.

I did however, find moments of ease this Christmas and throughout last year. I didn’t miss the commute in the way I thought I would, I’ve settled into a nice new routine balancing work and more effectively than ever before. I found that new clients were coming to me more easily than ever before. And I think in part, because I wasn’t actually expecting any new clients in 2020 when lockdown hit, I let go of the effort and the ‘hustle’ of previous years. Even my yoga and gratitude practice became a little easier in 2020.

So whilst many people are out there telling us to smash our goals, to get fit, to get slim, to find that new career, to hit that massive sales figure, to get that promotion, to be ‘the best you/the new you’ and to make 2021 the best year ever, I don’t know about you, but I’m still dealing with the fatigue and the emotional rollercoaster of 2020 and with another lockdown in place who knows what 2021 has in store for us. 

The week before Christmas my inboxes were full of messages from people wanting to help me set and smash my goals in 2021, and the last thing I needed to hear was how to smash goals.  I’m not feeling it and to be honest I don’t know if I have the energy, I know many of you are feeling the same.

I had big plans for 2020, not least because I was counting down to my 40th birthday and I had 40 things I wanted to do before I hit 40, but I also had big plans for business growth, health goals and places I wanted to visit and experience.

I’ve always been an overachieving, control freak, perfectionist and over the years I’ve been learning to let go of these things, last year I really had no choice.  I had no control over anything, I didn’t know, like any of you when the world would open again or what my clients might need when all of this ‘was over’ and all these months later, here we are.

The week before lockdown started my Ayurvedic retreat in India was cancelled, I’d been looking forward to it for a year and in many ways, I’d been putting off some of my health plans thinking this trip would be the kickstart I needed.  To hear it was cancelled, along with all of my other trips, my birthday plans and at the beginning of the year most my client work, I was an emotional wreck.  Yet on that day, Untamed by Glennon Doyle arrived on my doorstep and with the mantra of ‘we can do hard things’ ringing through my mind all year, we did it.  We got through and we survived.

It was the first year ever where I’ve really slowed down, spent 9 months focusing on what and who are important and I’m starting this year focusing on intentions not goals, and on really living my values in everything I do, one in particular – Integrity.

Now integrity is a word that many companies will have on their values list, for me this is about doing the right thing even when nobody is looking, and I really want to go with this this year. I want to pay attention to the times when I know I should be doing or saying the right thing, and yet I know there are occasions where it feels easier to not do or say ‘that thing’.  I know I still have moments where fear creeps up on me and it stops me doing or saying what I know is right.  I know sometimes my energy levels stop me taking the action I need to take.  And this year I want to change that.

So, I’m not so much focusing this year on what I want to achieve, but more on how I want to be, and I want to be aligned to my values.  Will it be easy?  No.  But we can do hard things.  And I’m committed now more than ever to doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.

My over achieving, control freak, perfectionist tendencies are still there, so my goals and my plans will still be there, pushing me on, giving me a stick to beat myself with if I don’t achieve them, I’m still working on this, but it’s my values that will take front and centre this year.

How could you focus more on how you want to be this year to align to your values instead of a list of things to do that you might forget about in a week or two’s time?


Kelly is an Executive Coach for Rebellious Leaders at kellyswingler.com and Founder of The Chrysalis Crew.

She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can all love our roles, find balance in our lives and so that we can all change the world of work for the better.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn on 5th January 2021 as part of the People Perspective series.


  • Kelly Swingler

    Executive Coach to HR and People Leaders and Founder of the Chrysalis Crew

    Kelly Swingler

    20+ years in HR and Leadership roles have taught me that we can only change the world of work when we start by looking at ourselves.  When our thoughts, actions and interactions are aligned with our values we can ditch the old school management speak and out of date management and leadership frameworks and lead from the heart, aligned with our mission and purpose.