2020 was a year of many challenges—the COVID‑19 pandemic, intensifying political division, growing economic inequality, and the climate crisis, to name a few. But the new calendar year signals a fresh start for many with an array of new resolutions. But how do we effectively set those intentions for the new year and overcome the challenges brought upon by 2020? During a YPG Mentorship Third Thursday event on Jan. 21, GEOINT leaders discussed how to develop effective resolutions and provided tips on overcoming challenges.

The Challenges of 2020

At its core, 2020 was not a year of small challenges that we could easily overcome.  During the turmoil of the year, our panelists learned various ways to approach the challenges they faced.

Surviving the quarantine was the most difficult challenge for Chris DeMay, founder and chief operating officer of TrustPoint. He differentiated between those challenges we had to endure and those that we needed to survive.

“But these are challenges that we continue to deal with,” said DeMay. “And we need to be looking toward the future.”

Cindy Liu, liaison to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Augmentation (AAA) Team from the Source Directorate, learned to be her whole authentic self. Prior to 2020, while no one prohibited her from being her most authentic self,  she held back for fear of two things—offending someone and others judging her thinking.

She noted that in 2020 “I permitted myself to be my most authentic self. And it was challenging. But I realized that while I may be a government employee, the government wants to hear from my skill set and diverse background,” Liu said.

It’s important to be vulnerable and compassionate. In an emotional response, Letitia A. Long, former director of NGA, explained it is vital that we understand and listen to others. We will not know their perspectives or their stories if we do not show vulnerability and compassion.

Be Purposeful & Intentional 

Whether your focus is building new relationships or expanding skill sets, the panelists agreed you must be purposeful with your resolutions.

If your goal is to grow your professional network, that will take effort. Random water cooler conversations at work no longer occur in virtual settings. Therefore, increasing your professional network takes more effort.

“If you’re going to meet someone, you have to make a plan for it. Email or set up a meet and greet because that randomness is no longer there,” said Liu. And that means being more purposeful, she added.

Aside from being intentional in building new relationships, the panelists encouraged attendees to do the same with existing relationships as well.

Being purposeful also means learning when to say no. Last year when everything went virtual, Long began attending every virtual event she was aware of—but not all of them benefitted her professional development. When being purposeful with your resolutions, you must think of what will benefit you as you continue to develop in your career.

“I was signing up for every event and speaking opportunity partly because I missed that interaction. But to be purposeful means thinking about what will be beneficial to others and what will help you in your professional development,” said Long.

“When everything is intentional, it becomes more meaningful,” said DeMay.

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Posted by Lisbeth Perez