Kicking It Off, and Keeping It Going

By Suchitra Sairam

2020 – What a year it was. It held so much promise, and then couldn’t come to an end fast enough, yet here we are. We may say “good riddance,” to help us put behind the challenges, the loss (perceived and actual), the different sources of pain. The New Year certainly gives us a feeling of reset. Of a fresh start. Realistically, the same things that we faced on 12/31/2020 are there on 1/1/2021. But somehow, it feels different.


It has also been a year of discovery, of opportunity, of reflection – what CAN we do when there so much we CAN’T do. What ARE we capable of when there is much we feel powerless about?


I’ve found this to be an important opportunity to explore these things. And to reflect. I’m also aware that I have the luxury to do so.


Looking ahead to this reset, this “do-over” of sorts, a few words and thoughts keep coming to mind (not in any particular order) as I reflect on setting my INTENTIONS (not goals or resolutions) for the year. Trying something new this time around.


Aspiration | Promise | Effort | Perseverance | Intention | Positivity | Humility | Ambition | Expectation | Hopes | Dreams


We need to have aspirations. We need to have ambitions. If we are fortunate, we will have people around us who help us see what those can be, and help us get there. We should always seek these people out.


What are we DOING to support our aspirations and ambitions? How are we THINKING to support our aspirations and ambitions? How are we BEHAVING to support our aspirations and ambitions?


Aspirations and ambitions are left empty without the right attitude. Without effort. Without hard work. Without commitment. Without perseverance. Then we are guaranteed to be left with the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations.


I’ve been thinking about this in many contexts – but one that has come up repeatedly over the last couple of weeks is inspired by my students. With an annual assignment of a reflecting on the year past AND setting goals for the future, many are sending me wonderful reflections on the year past, and aspirations for their futures; about personal growth, learning, performing, and completing their Salangai Pooja and Arangetram. I am truly delighted to see these aspirations and ambitions, and to hear about the joy and solace they have found in art during a trying year. But I will ask them all – what are you DOING to support these aspirations and ambitions? What are you putting in? Class once a week (with holidays and all, this would be a MAXIMUM of 45 classes a year) won’t get you there. What is the attitude, commitment, practice, that will help (not guarantee) you get there? If those are the things you WANT, what are you ready to DO?


As I ask them questions – I ask myself the same questions about my own aspirations and ambitions. What am I DOING to support these things? It leads me to some reminders for myself as I leap into 2021.


Consistently do the little things so you can achieve the big things.

Dreams and hopes are so important, so necessary – but idle dreams and hopes don’t get you there.

I heard a helpful phrase long ago (unfortunately, not sure who to attribute it to), that I’ve not always adhered to – “Build greatness with great habits.”

And all of this with a humble heart.


This gives me a framework for the year ahead. Here is to working toward fulfilling the promise of 2021, of reaching those aspirations and ambitions – may we all find joy in the journey forward.