When preparing to welcome the New Year, I have been reflecting on what I want to take with me into 2021, and what I should ultimately leave behind. While the clock striking midnight does not promise 2021 will be any different, it is a powerful moment to reset our mindsets, our attitudes and to set new intentions. 

As I look forward, the thing that has been so present in my life throughout this year and something I need to desperately let go of, is fear. It has permeated day to day life, becoming all too familiar and present. 

Fear of the virus, this invisible force with the power to spare you or cause incredible suffering. We are driven to isolate ourselves, backing away from people instead of embracing them, and live with the possibility that one hug or unmasked interaction could bring about unimaginable consequences.

Fear of the consequences of this unprecedented time, both to my own situation in terms of employment and health but also looking ahead at the deeper impacts this will have on decades to come. On our children, the economy, and on scores of individuals who have felt the full weight of the pandemic on their shoulders. 

Then there are all the fears that haunt me during my quiet moments, about not being good enough, of not being able to achieve the things I want to, of letting my family down and not being the mother, daughter, sister, and wife that I strive to be and of all the other things I secretly worry about but barely speak of. 

As I step into 2021, I know all of these things still exist. The ball dropping doesn’t wipe the slate clean. But I want to step into this next year with more perspective and a sense of gratitude and joy instead of fear and anxious anticipation. 

I think about how this has brought my family closer together, allowing me to spend precious time with my children that I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

I think about how I am grateful for being able to have more quiet moments of reflection and introspection that were previously swallowed up by outings, work, parties and the dozens of things that always felt critical but now I see were actually not. 

I am grateful for the perspective that life and death situations give me, allowing me to not sweat the small stuff and instead focus on what is really important. 

I think about how our country is finally putting a light on key issues that must be addressed for us to really live up to the ideals this country espouses to. 

I also think about how much we went through this last year and how strong we are as a family, as a country and a world; coming together in a shared experience that has rarely happened in human history. I am grateful and proud of the heroes who have emerged during this time; front line workers who put their lives on the line for ours every day, to the scientists who have come up with vaccines and countless others who have innovated, sacrificed and stepped up to help others. 

Overall, I want to enter 2021 with a sense of gratitude, of joy, of confidence and of peace. Instead of fearing what might happen, being confident I can handle it, whatever may come. While everything that has happened in 2021 won’t go away at midnight, I can put my fear on the shelf and leave it behind as I step into the new year. 


  • Jen Berry

    Senior Management Associate at Bridgewater Associates

    Jen Berry is a Senior Management Associate at Bridgewater Associates who has been with the firm for 14 years. In her tenure, she has held many roles including reporting to the CEOs on enterprise-wide strategic projects and managing departments across the business. Jen’s two biggest passions are her family (husband, four kids, two dogs) and establishing and enabling developmental workplace cultures—she has conducted extensive research on the topic and created workshops and resources that help organizations unlock the human potential.