The special Circle is made up of female friends the Facebook COO has known since she was 10, “amazing women” who she says have helped her through “ups and downs, laughter and tears, life – and now death.”
Now, nearly eight months after her husband’s passing, Sandberg looks back on a traumatic year – and forward to a “joyful” future – in a New Year’s Facebook post she shared with PEOPLE on Tuesday:
New Year’s is the traditional time of rebirth, renewal, and resolutions. This year, New Year’s has more meaning for me than ever before.
Last year, my resolution was to meditate for ten minutes every day. I shared this with my Lean In Circle of childhood girlfriends who all made their own resolutions. We were determined to support one another and knew that we’d be more likely to succeed if we held one another accountable. So we opened our monthly Circle meetings by sharing progress on our resolutions. We did not always stick to our plans, but we were in it together.
When my husband, Dave, passed away last spring, my whole notion of plans crumpled. I stopped trying to meditate, but my connection to this group of friends was one of the things that helped pull me through. They checked in daily. Even though they live across the country, they showed up early and often. They did not just hold me as I cried – they cried with me. One day when I was feeling particularly alone and down, a card from one of them arrived in the mail. It said, ‘One day she woke up and understood we’re all in this together.’ It has hung above my desk ever since.
These amazing women have supported me since I was ten years old – through ups and downs, laughter and tears, life and now death. Together, we have been through adolescence, college, starting careers and families. They’ve advised me on everything – from what dress to wear to the prom to what job to take. They were part of the inspiration for Lean In Circles and they are a big part of why I am able to smile again.
I believe deeply that everyone needs this kind of help and connection. We all need people who encourage us, believe in us, and remind us that we are not alone. For women, this kind of support can be especially important in navigating our lives and pursuing our ambitions. Too often the world tells women why they can’t do something; our friends are the ones who tell us we can … and help us figure out how.
My hope in the coming year is for everyone to find a community or start a Circle that helps them build the life they want. There are now 25,000 Circles in small towns and big cities, on the college campuses and military bases, in companies, and on every continent and in more than 120 countries, from India to Ireland. All over the world, women and men are getting together to encourage one another to learn and grow; 80 percent of Circle members say the support has made them more likely to tackle a new challenge or opportunity. I know that’s true for me.
And my resolution this year? When I first lost Dave, I felt overwhelmed with just getting through each day. My friend @Adam Grant suggested that every night before bed I write down three things I did well that day. I tried to do this, although some days I had such a hard time thinking of anything I did well that I’d end up listing ‘Made a cup of tea.’ But over time, focusing on things I’d done well helped me rebuild my confidence. Even if it was small, I could record something positive each day.
I want to continue this practice, so my New Year’s resolution is to write down three joyful moments each day. To quote my favorite singer, Bono, joy is the ultimate act of defiance.
I want to choose life and meaning over death and tragedy and live Option B* as best I can. So I will try to focus on finding joy in the mundane and the profound – joy in the small things that make my children smile, joy in the moments of friendship that might otherwise pass by unnoticed, joy in the ability to appreciate the gift of life in a way I never did before.
My Lean In Circle will help me stick to my resolution and I will help them stick to theirs. Together, we are stronger than we are individually. And because of them, I know I am never alone.
My wish to everyone is for a joyful new year. May you find the Circle that supports you – and cherish the moments of joy in each day.
To get support for your 2016 resolution, start or join a Circle at leanin.org/circles.