Your Plan for 2021: Is Your Heart in it?

You’d like to become a better person in 2021? Cute. Better than what exactly?

“Compete against yourself” sounds nice. But let’s be honest: Has it ever done anything for you?

Steve Jobs had Bill Gates. Andre Agassi had Pete Sampras. Batman had Joker.

Who do you have to push you to your limits?


Looking back at my 9 years in Toastmasters, my best year was 2015-2016, the year when I was one of Prague’s Area Directors. When my term started on July first, I knew that one year later I would want to run for Division Director for Czech Republic and Slovakia.

At the time, there were 6 other people who could theoretically contest that position – five other Area Directors, my peers – and the sitting Division Director who could run for re-election. Who would be voting? Club delegates from the North-Eastern half of Europe, from Denmark to Ukraine to Sofia. “How would they know they should vote for me if they never heard of me?” I thought… “Hmm… I’d better make sure they had heard of me by the day of the election!”

In my mind, the year had turned into a race against time in which I, as a new Area Director taking care of 4 clubs in Prague, tried to get the attention of Toastmasters from half of Europe. Not easy. Thanks to that, I jumped at every opportunity to deliver a workshop in front of an international audience. I challenged myself to do a speech every week (and post the recording on YouTube). In a Club Officer Training, I had all attendees sing together “Baby One More Time”. Every day was a chance for me to get ahead of my “rivals” in a “popularity contest”. And my “rivals” were the reason I always found that additional source of energy to do something extra.

Looking back, it looks even slightly ridiculous. All that rivalry was more in my head than anywhere else. In the end, no one beside me announced running for Division Director. But the activity? That was real. I really did all the trainings, recorded all those speeches and had people sing Britney Spears in the events I organized.


What was happening?

While I always wanted to “Be better than I was the year I was before”, in that year 2015-2016 that aspiration got real fuel.

Life is endless battle and conflict, and you cannot fight effectively unless you can identify your enemies. (…) As the opposite poles of a magnet create motion, your enemies – your opposites – can fill you with purpose and direction.

Robert Greene, 33 Strategies of War

At the beginning of 2021, you likely have an idea of what your goals for the year are, what you’d like to achieve, or at least in what direction you’d like to go.

But, pause to think for a moment – is your heart really in it?

How can you make sure it is?

How about making 2021 a little race. A race against a real person. Someone who is the magnet, your opposite, who will fill you with purpose and direction?

If you’re like most people – just the thought of a real person got your heart beat a little faster.

That’s a good thing.


Photo by Stillness InMotion on Unsplash.