I regularly find myself looking to balance what could be if I dreamed big and bold enough, and what is. I’ve come to recognize there are many external circumstances at any given time influencing whether or not I am actively reaching for what could be or accepting what is. As 2018 came to a close, I started to assess what the impact would be if I didn’t simply let “life” dictate which state of being I was operating from. What would be possible if I always asked myself to strive for intentionality? Would I be able to achieve the tenuous balance between respecting the realities at hand while still reaching for greatness?

A new year has always been an opportunity for me to reflect and prioritize. Think of me as one walking, talking resolution-seeker. I am the annoying family member or friend that asks if you have a New Year’s resolution, and if so, what is it? At the last Help Me Grow National team meeting, I inquired not only about everyone’s New Year’s resolution but also if they use the New Year as a catalyst to think through their goals. The team is mixed, with some members using this time of year to reflect on the opportunities and challenges of the previous year, and others steadfast that a resolution is just a set up for failure. It was in this staff meeting that I first articulated my focus, goal, resolution for 2019 – intentionality.

Anyone reading this is probably thinking, “So she’s going to think more about what she does? Doesn’t seem too profound or ambitious.” And to that I say, “Yup, I am going to think more about what I do, when I do it, why I do it, and how I do it.” I am going to work really hard at being intentional and choosing activities that yield a bigger impact, afford more space for creativity, and generate increased contributions to my family, work, community, and society as a whole. I will know I have succeeded when others have more opportunities personally and professionally to flourish.

It may not have been January 1, but at last year’s Help Me Grow National Forum, you may recall that I set what I then believed to be an audacious goal for the National Network, a resolution in its own right – that HMG centralized access points serve 20% more young children and their families than the year before. My thought at the time was that this call to action was an example of the balance I mention above, between striving for a big dream of what could be if we all committed to an outcome, while also sitting squarely within the realities of what is and respecting the factors that may limit us in achieving greater outcomes. We needed a goal that was lofty yet within reach, unlimited yet measureable, striving yet respectful of potentially limiting realities.

I am delighted to share that the National Network not only met, but exceeded our goal, serving almost 30% more young children and their families through HMG centralized access points in 2018.

Congratulations to each and every one of you throughout the country who worked hard to ensure that Help Me Grow systems were connecting young children and their families to community-based supports! Your individual contributions have led to a momentous increase in the impact of our collective initiative, and many more families are better off today because of it.

There’s something else this achievement tells me, too. That what I believed just one year ago to be an ambitious goal was actually something easily achievable as a collective. The fact that the Network handily surpassed its goal has crystalized for me what is: that, in fact, our collective power is greater than I had even realized.

With this recognition, we can truly be intentional in harnessing the immense power of the collective for transformational, not incremental, gains. Together, we can move forward to realize the profound potential at our fingertips of what could be.

As we look to the new year, I am committed to ensuring the National Center identify more opportunities to collaborate with our affiliate network. We are resolved to embrace and maximize an intentional partnership with each and every one of you. Our relationship is a key element in moving our collective from making incremental gains to achieving transformational ones. Throughout 2019 you can expect to hear more about what the National Center is doing on behalf of the affiliate network and experience our intentionality in journeying forward together as a movement. You can expect more outreach from us as we seek to connect with you to gather your input, assess your preferences, and meet your needs. We hope you will reach out with your ideas, questions, dreams, and pressing realities and, as always, continue to partner with us in new initiatives and exciting ventures. Happy New Year everyone!

Kimberly Martini-Carvell is the executive director of the Help Me Grow National Center and the Associate Director for Capacity Building, Organizational Learning, and Professional Advancement at the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.