You ready for 2020 to be over?
I’ve heard many people say that they can’t wait for this year to end, and I hesitate.
In a year where we faced the worst pandemic in over 100 years…
A movement for racial justice that led to unrest in our communities…
And a great deal of division and political contention…
There MUST be valuable lessons to be learned.
Here, I’ll list 10 life lessons we learned from 2020.
1. Be Certain of Uncertainty.
It’s interesting when I hear people say how hard this year has been because there was “so much uncertainty”.
My response is…
“When is there NOT uncertainty?”
You never know what tomorrow will bring, whether you’re in a pandemic or not.
The pandemic has NOT been “the cause” of uncertainty. On the contrary, uncertainty was already there. The pandemic simply HIGHLIGHTED the uncertainty.
Instead of resisting the ever-changing circumstances that surround you or denying the reality of the situation, accept it for what it is.
Allow it to be there.
Resisting uncertainty will have no impact on the truth of the impermanent nature of your life’s circumstances.
Embrace the uncertainty.
That way, you can take effective action to get results without getting caught up in stress or anxiety about the changing environment you’re in.
2. There’s Always Something To Be Grateful For.
Many people have struggled this year, and my heart goes out to them.
Losing a job, or even worse, losing a loved one, is incredibly difficult.
What I’ve learned from so many who’ve gone through these challenges is that they still found something to be grateful for.
The human spirit is extraordinary. People who’ve lost everything are still finding something to smile about.
Look around you right now.
See all that you have.
Consider the people in your life.
Reflect on all that you’ve experienced in your life, and all that you get to experience right now.
Acknowledge the fact that there are people in your life that care deeply about your wellbeing.
Remember that your life is precious.
Remind yourself that there is so much to be grateful for.
3. Your Health Must Be Your Top Priority.
If 2020 didn’t wake you up to the need to take care of yourself, I don’t know what will.
People have been pushed to the edge psychologically.
Physically, being unhealthy could lead to disastrous consequences if infected.
The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of mental and physical health.
Nothing, I mean absolutely NOTHING, should take priority over you taking care of YOU.
This means MAKING TIME to exercise, meditate, do yoga, read, journal, or whatever works to be still and strengthen your mental wellbeing.
It also means to eat better and get sufficient sleep to protect the health of your body.
Please, don’t sacrifice your health for anything.
4. We Have Differences, And We Must Work Together To Find Harmony.
The unrest we’ve seen in our communities along with the political divide highlights something that was already there.
Differences in beliefs.
The problem lies in the emotional attachment we have to these beliefs which lead to a great deal of arguing and pointing fingers.
We identify with our beliefs, which then make us feel threatened when someone opposes or challenges our existing beliefs.
I mean really, really listen.
Seek to understand the other side.
You may have read that and thought…
“Yea the other side needs to listen!”
No, that’s not what I mean at all.
You can’t control the “other side”.
YOU need to listen.
If you’re someone who identifies as a “liberal”, go to a conservative news feed and listen to their points.
It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything that’s being said, but seek to understand their side of the argument.
We must work together by understanding each other first.
Once we understand each other, we can come together and agree on how to resolve our differences.
5. Every Act of Kindness Counts.
Distancing ourselves from one another is a key way to avoid the spread of this virus.
The physical distance, however, doesn’t need to interfere with our ability to connect.
On the contrary, social distancing has made every act of kindness much more impactful.
Please don’t underestimate the impact one act of kindness can have on another. You never know what they’re going through, especially given what’s happened this year, and your act of kindness can mean the world to them.
This leads perfectly into my 6th lesson which is…
6. We Are All Connected.
Kindness is contagious.
Unfortunately, so is this virus.
This pandemic has put a spotlight on a truth that we often forget.
We are deeply connected to one another, and our actions influence each other both positively and negatively.
Whether you choose to wear a mask or not has an impact on those around you.
This is not my opinion.
This is fact.
Not only could it impact the health of those around you, but also their own beliefs about wearing a mask.
Have you been out and about at some point this year, looked around, and felt influenced even in the slightest bit by whether those around you are wearing a mask?
This is clear evidence of the fact that we are all connected.
Knowing that we are all connected, recognize that your thoughts, words, and actions have a greater impact than you may think.
You are powerful.
Be intentional about how you choose to influence others.
7. There’s Always Another Way.
Businesses closed down this year.
Many people lost their jobs.
This is unfortunate, and let’s acknowledge the challenges that accompany these situations.
At the same time, people have opened new businesses.
People have found the job of their dreams.
2020 has reminded us that it is not the situation that determines the outcome, but our response to the situation.
When we adopt a belief that there is always another way, we find opportunity everywhere.
There are no failures.
Some results show us that something went wrong, and we are best served to fix it.
We can then take action to work towards a different result knowing that no matter the outcome, there’s always another way.
8. The Story You Tell Yourself Determines Your Outcome.
To expand on lesson number 7, let’s look at what’s fueling our response.
The situations that arose in 2020 didn’t inherently have any meaning to them.
We add meaning to the situations.
If it weren’t for the human mind, there wouldn’t be any meaning associated at all with the circumstances we faced this year.
We are meaning making machines.
We tell ourselves a story that adds meaning to the circumstances we’re in, thereby fueling the actions we take, which then lead to certain outcomes.
If you want to respond better to a situation, assign a new meaning to it!
Tell yourself a better story.
If you’ve been playing the victim in your story, that will lead to an outcome that won’t be favorable.
If you decide to change your story, assign yourself the role of the hero, the outcome will change.
9. Your Tribe Will Lift You Up or Tear You Down.
2020 revealed how important it is to surround yourself with people who will lift you up.
For those who have been quarantined with family or with a partner, your relationships have been put to the test!
You’ve experienced the effects of how their energy impacts you since you’ve been forced to be home.
For those who are solo, you’ve experienced how being alone impacts you.
If this has been difficult, my heart goes out to you.
You’ve also recognized the impact of a call from a friend who lifts you up, AND the impact of a call from a friend who tears you down.
The first friend’s positive energy makes you feel motivated, excited, and optimistic.
The second friend’s negative energy makes you feel depressed, anxious, and pessimistic.
While there are certain people in your life you wouldn’t simply “cut off”, you must have recognized that the time you spend with certain people should be limited.
You’ve also recognized that there is great value in spending more time with people who lift you up.
10. Don’t Wait To Live Your Life.
I read a quote the other day that made me angry (and I don’t get angry too often).
The quote said, “successful people are never satisfied.”
While I’m sure the person who said it had good intentions, there are some implications there that rubbed me the wrong way.
What this suggests is that to be successful, you shouldn’t be satisfied in the here and now.
This suggests that you should live your life in order to get something in the future, rather than be happy in the present.
This suggests that you should invest all of your happiness and joy in future results, and when you experience those results, you’ll STILL not be satisfied since you’ll only want more.
This is bullshit – ABSOLUTE BULLSHIT.
Tomorrow may not come, my friend.
Many of us know of someone who passed from this virus.
Some have suffered real loss.
I would never tell you to live your life unsatisfied.
You can go after your goals.
You can do so with vigor, passion, and commitment.
But please, don’t sacrifice your happiness in the here and now.
Please, don’t sacrifice time with your family.
Please, don’t sacrifice your wellbeing.
When I say “live your life”, I don’t mean live out a dream life that you see on Instagram full of flashy cars or living on a beach somewhere.
“Live your life” means to live fully in the here and now with those who matter most to you.
“Live your life” means to find joy in the work you’re doing.
“Live your life” means to smile right now as you read this knowing that you are ALIVE.
Please, don’t wait to live your life.
P.S. I’m offering a special 1:1 coaching program to a select few leaders who have struggled with burnout in 2020 and want to find balance in 2021. To see if you’d qualify for this program, schedule time on my calendar.