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Leadership | 12 minute read

Staying focused on your purpose during adversity

January 5, 2021

The year 2020 had its fair share of challenges: From widespread fires, the ever-present pandemica global recession and murder hornets, this past year has been stress-inducing in ways we never thought possible. That said, there have also been triumphs: People have come together to sew masks for hospitals, pet adoption rates soareddrive-in movie theaters made a comeback and we had the highest voter turnout in 120 years during the election. The victories, however “small,” exist. Now that we’re in 2021, we’re all stronger for the challenges we faced. You made it. 

Read more from Kim about why empathy is vital for effective leadership

When it comes to purpose, I want to address a few things. The goals you set out at the beginning of the year may feel skewed, off-course or transformed entirely due to what’s happened. That’s completely normal and valid. We’ve had to dig deep and redefine everything we thought we knew about the world. Wherever you land in the realm of goal-setting, know this: Your goals, new or old, are still there. Even if you’ve drifted away or had to forget about them entirely because of immediate circumstances, there’s always a chance to steer back to the long-term again. So, how do we do that? 

Focusing on your purpose 

Take a moment to think about what fuels and drives your everyday. Remember that feeling of fulfillment every time you’re one step closer to accomplishing and honoring thatWith your long-term goals in place, current adversity shouldn’t permanently derail you from achieving your larger purpose in life. Setbacks are bound to happen, and it’s important to do what’s accessible to you during that timeframe until you can get back on track. Take a deep breath, reflect and resume.  

Here are a few ways you can stay focused on your purpose: 

Factor in change and roadblocks before they happen 

As they say, the only thing that stays the same in life is change. If you bake in the possibility for setbacks along your journey, this will allow you to react more appropriately in the moment when it does happen. Circumstances have altered drastically this year, and it’s important to make peace with your adjusted timeline. After all, no one predicted a pandemic happening. Having grace for yourself and others you work with is going to serve you well and prevent you from being completely thrown off course.  

Seek opportunity in challenges 

In the moment, adversity can feel like it’s obscuring everything we want to achieve. Many times, though, it has a way of presenting unique opportunities for growth. For example, if you can’t host that in-person conference, how about a virtual experience that will garner more attendees (and from across the globe)? Or, if your hiring temporarily sloweduse the time to take your talent community strategy to the next level. This is a time to think outside the box. It may not be what you originally had in mind, but navigating the challenge gives you another unique opportunity to grow and gain new skills.  

Exercise empathy 

Emotional intelligence is an integral trait during times of hardship. You never know what someone else is going through, so handle interactions with others with respect, patience and care. This will result in building relationships based on trust, which creates much-needed security and honestyWith that sense of security, you and others team members can stay more focused on what really matters than if constant worries about the workday lingered. Show you care and check in with people – that will keep things in perspective and help everyone stay focused on their purpose. 

Develop healthy habits 

There’s been a considerable shakeup to our daily routines due to COVID-19That said, for 2021, we can reform habits and combat stress by following routines that give us structure. Even if we’re working remotely, getting dressed and making coffee can reinforce habits and prevent unrest that a disrupted schedule often bringsFor me personally, exercise and meditation have been instrumental in keeping me centered and focused on my daily tasks. There are many ways you can track time and make lists, so you stay on task and keep your eye on the horizon. Try out time blocking or the Pomodoro method, for example. 

Expressing gratitude 

Taking even five minutes out of your day to think of three things that you’re grateful for can be a helpful reminder toward remembering what matters. Whether it’s a picture of your children or an alarm on your phone that goes off every day, I like to keep these reminders top-of-mind when I meditateAs much adversity as we’ve faced, I feel an immense amount of gratitude for loved ones and friends around me who have supported each other and modeled incredible companionship and unity in the wake of the pandemic.  

Rising together 

Although COVID-19 has left its mark on our world, there will be better days ahead. I’d love to hear how you are continuing to work toward your purpose this year despite a difficult 2020. Every step counts and no stride is too small. And, most of all, congratulate yourself on making it through to the new year. Prioritize mental health and camaraderie. We get through things because we work together – not apart.  

I asked some of our leaders how they’re rising to the challenges and adversities of this year – here’s what they had to say: 

Alicia O’Brien
VP, Innovation
I am rising with grace.
“I’ve learned to reframe my attachment to perfection and realize we can’t all be 100% all of the time. Having compassion to slow down, and give that courtesy to others, has been pivotal to overcoming adversity.”

Mark Duffin
Director of Solutions & Implementation
I am rising laser focused.
“The complexities and additional pressures created by the pandemic, both personally and professionally, has given me the chance to apply laser focus on what is priority, in order to manage time as effectively as possible. I plan to continue this mindset which in my experience, maximizes overall impact!”


Jasmine Bell
Director of Strategic Sourcing, (NAM)
I am rising more compassionate.
“Adversity brings forth opportunities for introspection, allowing us to re-calibrate and to grow. When we can come together to inspire one another to be courageous, to trust each other and to build resilience through compassion – that's a true testament of strength, and that’s when we win.”

Neil Gascoigne
VP, Talent Solutions
I am rising with courage.
“Rather than fear, we can overcome adversity through understanding and camaraderie as a community.”


This article was originally published on LinkedIn. You can view the original post here.

About Kim Pope

Kim Pope is the chief operating officer at WilsonHCG, a global talent solutions leader that elevates the delivery of talent partnerships and transforms them into impactful business functions. A leader with an eye for innovation, Kim has played an influential role in the company’s double-digit growth through numerous acquisitions and funding from PE firms over the years. She is currently featured as an expert on the Forbes Human Resources Council and was named in SIA’s 40 under 40 list, a Tampa Bay Business Journal BusinessWoman of the Year honoree and SIA’s Global Power 150 Women in Staffing. Kim’s forward-looking perspective inspires her team to continually evolve the WilsonHCG brand and solution offerings.