It is a truth universally acknowledged that, 2020 was a year like no other and no one saw it coming. Whether it was the COVID pandemic that shattered our notions of normal, or the physical and social isolation that revealed the quality of our relationships and threatened our mental health/well-being, or the racial and social justice unrest- that resurfaced simmering issues about structural racism, or the elections- that challenged our democracy, or the loss of loved ones that stunned us, the end of 2020 left us with a collective sigh of relief and many lessons.
Though we made it, none of us were left unscathed or unchanged by our experiences. Some of us entered 2021 with a somber attitude, as many of the issues of the last year travelled with us into the new one. Others entered 2021, hopeful and cautiously optimistic about their prospects for relationships, health/well-being, career and life in general. In my case, I determined that for 2021, I will not focus on all the uncertainty looming in the environment. Instead, I am going to concentrate on the things within my control and push forward. And so, I have taken all the lessons I have personally learned, insights gained from the stories I have heard and seen in the media, and come up with six key takeaways, that I believe can help you make sense of the 2020, and continue to forge ahead in 2021.
Lessons Learned in 2020
- The only thing constant is change’: If you didn’t believe that statement before, 2020 and 2021 made believers of us all. Your ability to pivot and adapt to the rapid pace of change (Happening all around you) has never been more crucial. However, reacting immediately and negatively to these changes, or perspectives that challenge your own, won’t help you cope. That approach, will only only produces stress and conflict, as well as undermine your personal well-being and overall effectiveness. A better response is to, increase your ability to manage change, by seeking information and asking questions such as – what can I learn from this and how will I make this change work for me?
- Learning never stops: For you to be successful in any of your roles, you need to stay relevant. This is especially true for both individuals and organizations in times of uncertainty. Keeping abreast of the trends and innovations occurring in your industry, will enable you to demonstrate the capabilities necessary to respond to new developments and challenging situations. So, take responsibility for your own learning and development and proactively look for opportunities to add value to your team and organization.
- You are stronger than you know: Your experiences will undoubtedly show you that, you do not grow in places of comfort. Hardships, setbacks, and pain, reveals more to you, about you, than anything else ever could. When faced with a difficult situation, what matters most, is not what happened to you, but how you choose to respond. Choosing to hope, to find the positives and making the decision to not give up, will build your resilience for the next adversity that comes along.
- Gratitude is a must: Amidst all the things that you could legitimately complain about, there are still many things that you can be thankful for. Resist the tendency to compare your live to the “shiny” appearance of others. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. Each and everyone of us is walking through something. Practicing gratitude can improve your well-being and happiness. One way to do this, is to start or end of your day by reflecting on, or writing down- three things that you are grateful for.
- Relationships Matter: Times like these remind us that, our relationships are the most important and valuable currency we have. Here, it is not the quantity of the relationships (like, follows, number of “friends”) that is important, it is the quality of our relationships that truly counts. Nurture supportive and life-giving connections with people with whom you can laugh, cry and relate. Practice tolerance, honesty, patience and forgiveness daily. And, be intentional about reaching out and maintaining those relationships whether you are social distancing or not.
- We are all equal, but We are not all OK: 2020 evoked an heightened awareness of the simmering issues of inequity, racism, prejudice and discrimination. The events we witnessed, re-opened many wounds and revealed the painful and deleterious effects that these issues have on people of color. No longer is it OK to say- I didn’t know, I didn’t know what to say, or I was afraid to to speak up. Oftentimes, your silence screams consent and complicity, or an unwillingness to be our brother’s/sister’s keeper. Each of us have a responsibility to educate ourselves about these issues, show empathy even when its uncomfortable, and to speak up when and where we see something wrong. In the words of Maya Angelou- “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”
Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”
What were your lessons learned? Pause and reflect on your experiences in 2020, identify your takeaways, and commit to applying them to making 2021 a better year for you and your loved ones.
Until next time, Remember, It’s A Learning Life!
‘Our relationships are the most important and valuable currency we have.’Tweet