What You Should Be Taking With You & Leaving Behind For 2021

As we start 2021, you may finally get a chance to reflect on what a wild ride 2020 has been. While we can’t move forward without looking back, it’s important for us to remember that this year wasn’t all bad. In many ways, there were silver linings and powerful lessons worth carrying forth. As you prepare to leave 2020 behind, here are a few gentle reminders to carry with you.

What you’re leaving behind: Staying stuck and settling
What you’re taking with you: Leaning into change, instead of avoiding it. Let’s be honest, “normal” wasn’t working for any of us. It’s time to try a new approach. Invite courage into your life by taking productive steps to move forward intentionally. Be open to change even when it’s uncomfortable. Commit to learning, growing, and expanding. As long as you are alive, you are capable of change. So, trust your evolution and give yourself grace throughout the process. That’s the way you turn conversation into action.

What you’re leaving behind: Blurry boundaries
What you’re taking with you: Communicating with impact. Be clear and direct about what you will and will not stand for. Don’t shrink or settle for the comfort of others. Remember: When purpose meets passion, you’re unstoppable.

What you’re leaving behind: Comparison
What you’re taking with you: Looking inward. Oscar Wilde said it best: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” You don’t have to become someone other than who you are in order to be successful. You are enough as you are.

What you’re leaving behind: Self-doubt
What you’re taking with you: A no-regrets policy. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from showing up and trying something new or different. Instead of waiting until “tomorrow” to do what you say you’re going to do, be present and keep the promises you make to yourself and others.

What you’re leaving behind: Being impatient with healing
What you’re taking with you: Showing compassion for yourself. You’re a work in progress — and you’re doing the best you can right now. Continue making space for rest and self-forgiveness. Remember that, even when you’re in pain, you are whole — not broken, but healing. It takes time.

What you’re leaving behind: Looking for external validation, the fear of not being enough, worrying about return on investment instead of return on impact
What you’re taking with you: You are your biggest champion. Validation starts with you. Celebrate how far you’ve come. Start thinking of “self-care” in terms of “self-investment.” It doesn’t have to cost a thing! You can maximize your ROI (return on impact) by making a 2021 to-be list. Instead of focusing on crossing off items on your to-do list, ask yourself who you want to be and why so you can figure out which steps you can take today to reach your goals tomorrow. Progress over perfection!

What you’re leaving behind: Thinking of self-care as an indulgence
What you’re taking with you: Thinking of self-care as a necessity, for all of us. This is not only a way to take care of yourself, it is also what we do to serve others. It’s time to start thinking of self-care and community care as one in the same. Because, how you choose to care for yourself has an impact on our collective health. Put simply: There’s no self-care without community care. Let’s listen first. Then, offer support to others — and be open to receiving that support when you’re in need. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that there’s more power in the pack than you can imagine. Surround yourself with people who have your back, and make sure you have theirs.

What you’re leaving behind: The urge to keep up
What you’re taking with you: Embracing the ritual of slowing down instead of rushing through life. Trust the path you’re on. Trust that there are good things in store. Trust that, even during hard times, you have what it takes to make it through. Positivity is a powerful tool for manifesting the future of your dreams!

What you’re leaving behind: Forgetting to count your blessings
What you’re taking with you: Creating more moments of gratitude and appreciation. Don’t sweat the small stuff — try to look at the bright side by focusing on what you have and what’s in your control.

What you’re leaving behind: Extra baggage
What you’re taking with you: Letting go. Look at what’s on your plate and remove anything that takes away your joy or interrupts your peace of mind. Focus on the relationships that fill you up and the ones that you can pour into.

What you’re leaving behind: Burnout
What you’re taking with you: Resting intentionally. Practice the ritual of slowing down. You deserve physical rest, emotional ease, and time to recharge. Pouring from an empty cup doesn’t benefit anyone, so don’t overextend yourself to please others. It’s possible to be kind and set healthy boundaries at the same time.

What you’re leaving behind: Ignoring bright spots
What you’re taking with you: Acknowledging wins — big or small — and celebrating them! We’re all worthy of happiness. Commit to living fully and leaning into moments of joy. Life is too short to miss out. Make every moment count.

A new year doesn’t mean things will magically change. Things like Covid won’t disappear just because we’ve entered 2021. But, change doesn’t just happen because it’s a new day — it happens because of you. You need to believe that the new year is a fresh start. Because believing that the new year is a blank slate transforms your mindset. It gives you hope and reminds you that another chance is possible, ultimately inspiring you to set new intentions.

So, what are you removing from your 2020 emotional suitcase? What are you releasing as we move into 2021? What are the things you are trying to remember in 2021?

Keep showing up. Keep making space for rest and self-forgiveness. Keep trusting that you are capable of rising up — even in the midst of crisis.


Original by Shelly Zalis
Shelley Zalis, known as the “chief troublemaker,” is a pioneer for online research, movement leader, and champion of gender equality. She is an internationally renowned entrepreneur, speaker, mentor, mother, and founder and CEO of The Female Quotient. Zalis rewrites the rules and innovates solutions to impact real change. In 2000, she left the corporate world to found OTX (Online Testing Exchange), which became one of the fastest growing research companies in the world. She sold OTX to Ipsos in 2010, and then led global innovation in more than 80 countries at Ipsos OTX. Today, as CEO of The Female Quotient, Zalis works with Fortune 500 companies to advance gender equality across industries. The FQ’s signature pop-up experience, the FQ Lounge (formerly the Girls’ Lounge), brings a Home of Equality to major conferences, companies, and college campuses around the world. The FQ Lounge is the gathering place for leaders of all levels at events such as the World Economic Forum, Cannes Lions, Consumer Electronics Show and the Milken Institute Global Conference. Through the destination-turned-movement, Zalis has connected more than 18,000 women in business and created the largest female-led community to transform workplace culture.

3 Comments on What You Should Be Taking With You & Leaving Behind For 2021

  1. Jan Stephens // February 18, 2021 at 9:47 am // Reply

    Great spin on things we should be doing but don’t always make a priority.


  2. Thanks for the great information!


  3. GREAT STUFF! Thanks!


Leave a Reply to Pete Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.