photo on top of the sneakers and the inscription comfort zone on the asphalt, the concept of personal private spaceBy Christina Jones, CAPP

Moving to Colorado in 2015 as an introvert who had been out of college longer than I care to admit, I was terrified by the idea of building a social network from scratch. So I challenged myself to try one new thing each month. It could be anything but it had to involve interacting with at least one stranger each time.

Initially it was intimidating going out alone and trying to start a conversation with strangers, so I stuck to things that centered on my interests, like a cooking class or a guided tour. When I decided to stretch outside my comfort zone, I tried a Bollywood dance class, then went on a cruise alone where each night I enjoyed dinner with a new stranger as we chatted about the day’s activities. I was really hitting my stride, gaining confidence, developing friendships, and expanding my network–and then along came 2020.

In looking back at the year of isolation and virtual everything, I was dismayed at a sense I was coming up short in my continued goals to try new things and meet new people. But my perspective was changed today by a comment from a colleague on a video call. He was talking about the challenges of changing the public’s parking perceptions, but it made me realize new experiences and connections were made during the year; they just came about a little differently.

In parking, we often talk about real versus perceived problems and how for many, parking and transportation system perceptions are reality. When things don’t initially appear to be as you hoped, consider changing your perspective and you may be pleasantly surprised. Going into 2021, keep the bar set high on your goals but give yourself flexibility in achieving them. 2021 has a lot of potential and we are all anxious to come out of the gate at full speed, but pace yourself and realize that new challenges may require a new way of thinking.

Christina Jones, CAPP, is a parking analyst with Walker Consultants.