As 2021 dawns, hope beckons, mostly in the form of a vaccine. We can finally believe that normality will, at some point, be restored. But before we write 2020 off completely, we need to dig a little deeper. There is much to be learned from the last year, challenging though it undoubtedly has been. We would be doing ourselves a disservice were we to miss the opportunity.
By taking a moment now to draw our individual conclusions, and work out how to incorporate them into our lives going forward, then aside from the vaccine, we give ourselves the greatest hope for a happier future.
I had an email the other day from a very talented and insightful lady who, by coincidence, had been through exactly the same process. She said looking back, she was surprised that it was the small things that stood out:
Moments of wonder, the physical sensations of warmth, the blue of the sky. Connection was the watchword and I felt strengthened and uplifted whenever I found it.
I can’t imagine that she would have thought to write the same thing this time last year.
Here are some of the lessons that I feel grateful to have learnt from 2020:
Covid has forced us to consider at the most fundamental level how we want to live our lives. It has allowed us to reconnect with our core values, to consider our true purpose, and to evaluate what is important and what is absolutely not. At its most extreme, it has reminded us how finite existence can be. These are all things that had somehow slipped off the radar in a world that was spinning faster and faster.
As we head into a new year, it’s the perfect opportunity to take action, however small, towards creating the authentic life we truly want and deserve.
Our ability to adapt is remarkable. There were so many examples of this last year. Plunged into the unknown, we all had to find new ways to do most things in life. The level of innovation was and still is, inspirational. None of it would have happened without Covid.
Zoom took its place at the heart of proceedings and became our go to tool for work, exercise, socialising and beyond. Cafes morphed overnight into delis, restaurants from eat ins to eat outs. Online consultations at home became the norm for services that we would have only ever imagined could happen in person. With challenging times certainly ahead, there will surely be much more of this to come.
We can all take a leaf out of this book. It is easy to settle in to a habit-based life. Stepping out of the comfort zone, especially if it is to follow a passion or calling, is scary but exhilarating. Taking the leap of faith is usually rewarded with something far superior.
What opportunities can we spot to think outside the box and do things differently this year?
The joy of simplicity
With shops closed, travel stopped and many of our usual pass-times taken away, our busy lives were stripped back overnight. Shocking though it was, it gave us time to contemplate and to realise what psychologists have known for some time: happiness is to be found in all the places that we traditionally overlook.
The pandemic has reminded us of the joy of nature, the importance of human connection, and the privilege that is our liberty. When life starts to gather pace again as it likely very soon will, we should hold on tight to the things really matter.
I recently heard resilience brilliantly described as ‘our immune system for the inevitable ups and downs of life’. Resilience is not finite, it can be developed by stepping up and facing our fears whether by choice or necessity. The last year has forced us to do just that. At the start of lockdown the fear of what was ahead and the uncertainty of being able to cope, was palpable. Here we are at the end of the year, stronger, wiser and more confident.
We have had one large dose of resilience and it will be there to see us through. Let’s put it to good use.
Facing our fears
2020 landed us right in the middle of the unknown and it was scary. When faced with no choice but to sink or swim, we had to dig deep. We all drew on resources we didn’t even know we had and we found a way through. It wasn’t easy but it has shone a light on exactly what we are all capable of. And there’s so much more where that came from.
Covid has been a call to action. Never again should we allow our fear to reign us in. The more we can face up to it and press on, the bigger our achievements are likely to be. Is there something you have always wanted to do but have been afraid of trying? Now’s the time.
Harsh as it may seem, however difficult the circumstances we will always have a choice as to how we respond. Those choices will each bring a different outcome. Realising that we are not at the mercy of circumstance, and that by exercising our right to choose we will always have a level of control over our own destiny, brings with it freedom and hope.
It is something that can never be taken away. Let’s use this greatest of gifts wisely this year. Let’s make it the very best it can be, irrespective of what life may throw at us. In the words of the inspirational Edith Eger:
In the end, it’s not what happens to us that matters most, it’s what we choose to do with it.
I’d love to hear your take on 2020. What were your silver linings?