New Year, New You- What Happened to the Old You?

books on the table
Everything we need for a break well deserved…books, cookies and relaxation

After some much needed emotional and mental healing I’m back and rejuvenated for this new year of the culture-driven leader!

If you’d rather listen to the podcast- click on the link below!



This time of year is always filled with new plans, new goals and passions we want to make happen this year because this will be the year different from all years before it right? 

I’m a big fan of shaking the cobwebs and learning from what didn’t work before and how we might improve? So what’s the obsession with resolutions? Is it appropriate when we may not know what the year may hold? This year or any year? How different are we on January 1st from December 31st? 

 That amount of pressure to put on ourselves and those around us never sat well with me but what we can do is understand where we are and where we want to be and how to get there. 

In this week’s episode we’re doing a deep dive into behavior change. What does it look like and if we can achieve it? 

My Plans…are you in?

Things I’m working on and how you can be a part of the process but first, some strategies for intention setting instead of resolutions we’ll never hear from again. 

Making decisions can be difficult for many when we have so many options in front of us. The dental care aisle is my worst nightmare with it’s myriad of choices that differ very little from each other. Mint or spearmint? Green or blue? Does it really matter? 

grocery cart with item
Tubes, gels, packaging- does it really matter? Just choose!

But when it comes to hard decisions actual decisions that impact your life from what to study, what industry to go for work, if the job is worth the micro aggressions or the slow mediocre promotional track? 

According to Ruth Chang, a philosopher and a professor of jurisprudence at Oxford University, she has this theory on decision making that I love. 

First, what’s the difference between a big choice and a hard choice?

Big Choice: Life-saving surgery is big but not usually hard if you want to continue living. Right?

Hard Choice: Two decisions that are very similar- two jobs, living in two different cities, etc. Both have pros and cons but neither is definitively better than the other, but choosing one and committing to it is the part that makes it hard.

While choosing one and wistfully regretting not taking the road less traveled makes the decision process unbearable.and for many it makes us live life with a feeling of regret or contemplating if we’ve made the right choice for ourselves. 

This insecurity in decisionmaking is a long believed stereotype of millennials among others but can often derail us completely if not riddle us with anxiety over our big life decisions. 

 Chang’s advice?

Be the Author of your life. Author being an acronym for

A is ascertain what’s important. Who’s opinion matters such as your parents or if there’s a certain goal or career type you’re looking to achieve. Totally get both of those angles. 

U is for understand the pros and cons with respect to what matters. But remember these are options that may be similar in standing so finding those deep pros and cons may be more difficult than we realize.

T is for tally up the pros and cons, another not small feat depending on the hard decision. 

H is for hone in on the fact that it’s a hard choice- the options are on par with each other no option is definitively better than another. Choosing a promotion in Germany vs taking the same position at another company for some may be relatively similar depending on career plans but they are both relatively great options as long as you keep A in mind. 

O is for open yourself up to the possibility of making a commitment, this is where Chang lays it down. Commitment in making a choice makes all the difference. 

R is for remake yourself as someone who or realize yourself as someone who has committed to a choice. If you choose the Germany position, you would have to be a person that has committed to agreeing to a promotion in Germany versus being a person that takes the same job at another organization. Neither is bad but they both have very different potential realities. 

As a person that spent 6 years in a foreign country I know this very near and dear to my heart. Had I stayed, I might be in the same circles that I was in before I left like most people I found from back home. But the alternative? Let me to meet my husband, now have a daughter and be with you now living in my 4 country.  

Check out her TED Talk!


What I love about this strategy for decisionmaking is that she’s not telling you what to do- that’s up to you. But what she is saying is that commitment is key. Realize yourself as a person that is this person. 

How does this relate to new year plans and behaviour? 

We all know that intention is only a piece of the puzzle. You hope to make a change this year? Great but how can you actually do so? You have to commit to that change. 

Easier said than done right? 

Of course, everything that requires introspection and commitment always is.

So what if we took that same level of commitment for something we wanted to achieve this year? It can be anything but it should be something you actually want and are willing to commit to.

It doesn’t have to be big. Start small. Use those smart goals we all know about. 

Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound.  

I was able to achieve so much of what I planned on in 2020 because I started prioritizing and learning strategic methods of working on the one thing. 

If you’ve never read The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan it’s great!

Highly suggest it because the truth is not all lists are created equal, learning to prioritize and figuring out what works best for you is the number one way to learn how to change behavior. It doesn’t happen all at once, it may not happen as quickly as you hoped but if you commit and allow yourself to learn from the process, it’ll make all the difference. 

For Organizations and Employees

Another note as employees return from holidays and staycations because let’s face it where did we go? But anyway, remember all those commitments and intentions that companies set out for themselves last year? Increasing and retaining more diverse talent, working to close the gender equity gap, equal pay for equal work, promoting more people of color to c-suite, etc. At the bare minimum releasing their diversity numbers so you know who you’re getting into bed with. 

Now that the new year has started remind them that those intentions still need to be held accountable. DEI is not new but its priority has slipped from many organizations’ front page.

It happens to the best of us, we move on- especially when we are not directly impacted by it. We need to make sure to remind our employers and the organizations we work in that it matters to all of us because inclusion is not only the burden of people of color or marginalized peoples. It really is the responsibility of everyone. 

We all know innovation happens when we bring in new ideas our products speak to our customers in better ways, our bottom line increases because at the end of the day inclusion means being intentional and choosing to remake yourself as the person or your organization as that which has made the commitment to inclusion and not regretting that choice. Because the alternative no longer exists. 

So what will 2021 hold for you?

Be sure to check out our upcoming events:

Envision and Planning Workshop 2021

If you’re interested in joining the waitlist for the #empathychallenge2021 email course click here!

Yours in kind,

Jessy Santana, The Way We Work founder

3 Lessons from 2020 to take with Us into 2021

We can all admit 2020 was a special kind of year, one some wish we could have passed over, written off or or slept through.  With rampant pandemic cases, record-breaking unemployment and economic troubles all around but what if there was another option? 

If you want to hear some reflection and introspection on 2020, listen to The Way We Work podcast! Like, review and share!

Change is Possible

We stepped into 2020 thinking it was just going to be another year of monotonous gear grinding and day in, day out mentality. Feeling like a cog in a machine? No worries, 2020 would fix that, for the better or worst. So there’s a virus that comes up and takes over the world, basically and unless you’ve been living on a deserted island you know what I’m talking about.

The upside? If there is one. Is this- Change is possible.

Once lockdowns were put in place and things came to a standstill in this apocalyptic reality. We can all admit it was weird to see metropolises and main squares completely empty with not a soul in sight.

Eerie right?

But something else happened too. Companies, big and small, pivoted. For some it was easier than others and technology that was previously not common made all the difference. Hello- Zoom! But Work from Home became Work at Home. Industries that had previously disdained the possibility of flex schedules, remote work and needed deep separation between the personal and professional lives of their employees. Those same industries have now learned to embrace- a little, that we need more. We need more as individuals, as employees and as contributors to the economy of our respective countries.

Things that couldn’t have happened without people and companies coming together to enact change, quickly and in solidarity for the greater good:

There are companies that have weighed the benefits of full remote and have decided that’s the direction they want to go in now.

It was all hands on deck in order to create potential vaccines for covid-19, no small feat as Medical News illustrates here.

Adapting to change, while difficult, always has an opportunity for growth. Some companies even did well in 2020, and yes- it skews to tech because they were more easily able to quickly shift and adapt but they aren’t the only ones.

Here’s the list of 100 companies that prospered during the Pandemic.

Change is also possible when it comes to social justice and equity. One of the hottest jobs in 2020 seemed to be Diversity and Inclusion and yes, we know it’s not perfect. Most of the positions are performative and siloed in HR, but, they exist when they didn’t before. Companies react to what their customers and their boards want and guess what? They have spoken!

Mental Health was Demystified and De-Stigmatized

While many found themselves unemployed, dealing with the anxiety of lockdowns, and rushing to prepare for the end times, something happened for all of us. Maybe it was the relentless news or the possibility of death if you walked out your door, or the countless zoom meetings that caused burn out and created a new word, Zoom Fatigue. But while we had time to sit at home and ponder things more and more of us released we were not ok and started reaching out.

The Washington Post wrote, “nearly half of all Americans say the Coronavirus is harming their mental health…”

The truth is mental health is often deemed a luxury for a lot of people, seeing the need as something that can wait but 2020 has shown us that there are a lot of cracks in that logic, especially when health care doesn’t really seem to be able to cope with the mass amounts of people that are still drifting their way through.

I am a firm believer that the generational trauma of 2020 will continue to ripple, simply because most of us have never needed to be introspective or have difficult conversations with ourselves because we could always fill the silence. And if you’re still trying to get through the fog, maybe it’s time to learn some coping mechanisms that may work for you.

silhouette of man at daytime

My favorite are meditation and learning to have deep conversations with yourself, through writing or journaling and with others. We long for deep connections, that’s the human way.

One of the most important lessons of 2020, is that it is possible for anyone to fall into the traps of anxiety and depression- and I’m sure we all felt it in some way or another. Maybe it manifested as working for hours on end with no breaks because you didn’t know what else to do, not wanting to eat well, or binge-watching all of Netflix (that was a vice of mine).

However, it looked like for you- know that there are services, some companies extended mental health outreach and gave greater access for their employees, and I’ve found even social media has had a place in mental health de-stigmatizing. As long as you take the truths shared with a grain of salt. It’s still not complete reality.

Resilience is my New Favorite Word

Not because it means overcoming challenges, but for the other meaning: Elasticity. We were all pulled in many different directions this year, in ways we didn’t know were possible. We were asked to care for our neighbors, to care for our community and ourselves in ways we had never done before.

I lived in China for a long time, so wearing a mask for me was not a big deal, but for some it was an audacious request. Being told to stay home and spend time alone or with family and find new and interesting ways to pass the time. Some people were ingenious with their solutions. Working while balancing a toddler on one’s lap was an experience, I’m sure I’m not the only one who found myself thrust into parenthood with no reprieve. Reconnecting with old friends or reaching out to new ones while attending virtual conferences or networking was fun, although exhausting.

No matter which direction we were pulled, we learned. What works, what doesn’t. How to manage our time or how we’re really not. Tough decisions were made, ones we may still be feeling the pangs of, but there were also moments of freedom and liberation. At the end of this year, while we sit in reflection remember that we still made it.

We were pulled to our limits and beyond but humanity survived. And if we can move forward into 2021, remember that resilience, that strength that will take us forward into this new year.

We may have suffered tragedy upon tragedy but we continue, nonetheless.

We may never be able to return to the pre-covid times of our memories, and why would we? They weren’t that great to begin with, but what we can do is take the lessons learned and move in a better direction.

Are you with me?

Yours in kind,

Jessy Santana