10 Lessons From 2020 — A Chaotic Year
2020 was a year that none of us expected, that none of us could’ve adequately prepared for. A global pandemic that shook the very foundation of how we live our lives. Since then, everything has changed. Was forced to change.
But despite the harsh reality, we’ve all persisted in our own way. We’ve made big sacrifices through this year. But now, it is behind us. And we have new opportunities ahead of us to grow and develop ourselves.
My overall thoughts for 2020 is that it was a disaster year. But through all of that pain and loss, there was also growth and realizations. In a sense, it was a year of hindsight — fitting for this year in particular.
Throughout this year, there were several things that I’ve come to learn. There were also lots of things that I’ve been reminded of that I knew before. From this year, I’ve picked out some of the most notable lessons and reminders so that starting in 2021, you can grow yourself further.
People Need To Spend More Alone Time
The pandemic was an unusual blessing in that it forced people to be at home — at least those who are taking this pandemic seriously. The reason this is such a good thing is that it gave the opportunity for people to be alone in certain circumstances.
Unless you’re like me — a single individual with a small circle of friends and a job that you can easily perform in isolation — then chances are you’ve been around a lot of people. It probably hasn’t crossed your mind at all to have some alone time until this pandemic encouraged people to have small gatherings or only see a small number of individuals at a time.
As restrictive as that might be, it can also be a liberating feeling. For me, my alone time gave me the opportunity to prioritize things in my life, figure out more about my life, and even have deeper understanding of those around me. From people that I knew a while ago and those I’ve known recently.
Alone time is a very constructive and often eye-opening experience. And no it doesn’t mean you’re suffering from depression or that you’re sad.
2020 Was A Year To Brush Up On Politics
While I’ve been cooped up in my apartment, I’ve expanded my reading preferences as well as my video diet to incorporate politics. From comedians, to fellow writers, my view of politics has expanded significantly over this past year.
While this has been revolving around American politics rather than Canadian, it’s encouraged me to be more open to the topic. From what experience I’ve gathered, it’s made me realize just how misinformed people are about politics.
One good example of political ignorance at its finest is revolving around the Brexit vote in the UK in 2016. After the vote, many British residents decided to google what the EU was.
Another more recent example is President-Elect Joe Biden rallying people around the clear message that “this is not who we are.” This is despite the fact that the 2020 US election was very close and that Biden’s opponent is nothing short of a misogynist, racist, con-man.
I won’t be making this post political beyond this, but considering these examples, it’s about time that we — as individuals and citizens of our respective countries — spend more time delving into politics. After all, this pandemic and the four years of Trump have taught how much governments can affect residents’ lives if they want to.
It’s worth looking at the details of what prominent political figures are doing — both on the left and the right and to draw conclusions. Of course, there is no politician that we’ll 100% agree with but it’s still worth looking into. It’s an opportunity to further refine your opinion on a topic and to understand why you feel this way.
I find politics to be an opportunity to look at other hot topics. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to discuss with others provided things are heavily politically charged.
Learn To Say No To Things
This has been happening a lot this month with me turning down “collaboration” deals from fashion and beauty companies, but beyond December, there have been times where I’ve said no to things. I turned down hanging out with friends, making business expenses, and even moved on past certain relationships.
While some of these things are easier to do than others, I find that by saying no, you further refine your own priorities in those aspects of your life.
You reject a business expense. Why did you turn that down? What aspect made you want to say no rather than yes?
You reject a certain activity. Why did you do that? What is taking a higher priority in your life right now?
You reject a relationship. What was wrong with it? What made you feel uneasy about the relationship?
The answer to those kinds of things put more into perspective about what you want in a relationship or in life overall. Not only that, but these create lessons that you can then abide by moving forward in your life.
Beyond that, you can refine those view points more and more moving forward. Maybe you realize that you were wrong about your reasoning, or maybe you need tweak it a little bit. That’s okay. That’s life. What matters is that the conclusions you draw are things that you feel you can stand behind.
Talk With Your Parents (If You’ve Got The Chance)
This pandemic has made this one tricky for all kinds of reasons but if you’ve got the chance, take it. The relationship I have with my parents has become more refined over the years as I’ve grown older. It all started when I left for my Katimavik travels in 2009.
It’s hard to imagine that that experience occurred a little over 10 years ago at this point but it was still a memorable one. It was the year where I opened up more to my parents and to myself. Since I’ve started to become more comfortable in that aspect, the relationship that I have with my parents has become tighter.
It’s at the point now where I can discuss with them all kinds of things. Things that my younger self would be hesitant about. Things like finances, my own work, politics, and other topics are things I’m excited to talk to my parents about.
I know that not every child/parent relationship is like mine but I’d still encourage you take this lesson to heart. Despite family being a complicated and sometimes broken mess, it can still function if you make the effort to work on it — like any other relationship.
2020 Taught Me To Discuss “Delicate” Topics
Whether it’s topics like politics, money, or conversations that you feel uneasy discussing, this year taught me just how important having those conversations can be. To really understand a person, delving into these conversations is a requirement.
As difficult as these conversations seem to be at first, the more you are willing to dive into them and have a curious mind about them, the easier they’ll be. The curious mind aspect is most important as you can steer the conversation more into something casual-like rather than a heated debate.
By having these conversations you gain a lot of insight about people, and their way of thinking. This allows you to deepen relationships and make them more authentic and genuine. It’s an important aspect of life as so many people have fleeting relationships or superficial ones.
This isn’t to say that you need to have deep and engaging conversations all of the time. It’s important to have light topics mixed in between. But these deeper conversations allow the opportunity for relationships to grow further.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Higher-Ticket Spending If It’s Worth It
Despite this year being economically straining, I’ve still been able to stay afloat financially to a degree. This has allowed me to start saving a little bit of money every month but also be able to spend money in my personal life as well as for my business.
Over the summer, I’ve hired a marketing team to help me market my business by making social media posts.
I’ve also paid for a course to help with my writing as well. There’s also the money spent on personal training to improve my health.
I plan to be spending more money on my business in the future but these were some of the more recent purchases that I’ve made and that I’ll continue to spend in the future.
Of course, these purchases are still within my budget that I’ve made, but I would encourage people to be spending more money on things that will elevate ones life. In other words, have more meaningful and impactful purchases.
With this year forcing many people to be more frugal, I believe this lesson is easier to adopt this time.
With less disposable income people are forced to make difficult decisions money-wise. Some are definitely a lot harder in some cases, but some are within reason.
For example, the marketing team that I’ve hired takes up a large portion of my budget. I’m well aware that I could be getting the same kind of service for a cheaper price. So why haven’t I made the shift? Well my marketing team is invested in me. They were recommended to me by another entrepreneur who I know and trust. Furthermore, if I wish to scale up my business — which I’m in the process of doing — I know this current team will help me with that. In fact, they encouraged me to do that.
I have little experience with other marketing teams, but I’ve been in the freelance world enough to know what sort of attitude people display when they’re invested in your business or not.
Even though there are budget-friendly options out there, it’s important to recognize that not every budget option is the best for you. Sometimes it’s better for you to spend more money on something than to be cheaper. Keep this in mind when making financial decisions — big or small — in the future.
2020 Got Me To Start Thinking In Causes And Effects
Along the same lines of spending more money on certain items, it also got me thinking about causes and effects. The idea of this thinking methodology is “If I do action A, I expect results B.” From this logic, I started to use it to dictate my behaviour.
If I eat when I’m not hungry, I’ll gain more weight and not feel good. So by that logic, I don’t eat when I’m not hungry. Better yet I find an alternative such as drinking water.
If I eat chocolate, I’ll get a bad headache. By that logic, I’ve started moving away from sweets and refined sugar. These days, they’re very rare.
If I spend money on video games or Magic, I’ll have less money for more important things. This resulted in me cutting back my spending on Magic and gaming significantly. I still splurge of course, but they’re more in spurts rather than consistent sums of money month after month.
While we don’t know the full extent of the effects of our actions, there are some obvious effects that come with our actions. Especially if these stem from bad habits that you recognize and have a desire to change.
This overall approach pushes you to think about your decisions carefully and consider whether these are sensible for you to do too.
Find Time To Unwind And Escape
One of the big ticket items I bought in 2020 was a Nintendo Switch. It’s been years since I purchased a console and to this day, it’s provided me with plenty of hours of entertainment. While I’m definitely aware I could’ve spent that money on something else, my argument to make that purchase is due to this lesson: find ways to unwind and escape.
There are several outlets in my life that allow me to unwind and escape to: the gym, watching YouTube videos, and gaming on my computer. But many forms of that escape stem from my laptop where I sit in the same chair I do all my work in.
I believe that having another outlet — and chair — to go to, it’ll give me the chance to find another place to escape to.
On top of that, the games I play are ones that I can spend hours on end if I want to. Animal Crossing New Horizons, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Hades, amongst a few others.
Escapism in large portions isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but it is a necessary part of our lives. It’s so important these days to have a number of activities that you can unwind and escape to. It’s an opportunity to move away from all the chaos that 2020 brought to people’s lives.
You Can Often Do More Than You Initially Think
One thing I’m grateful I did in 2020 was sign up to a gym and have a personal trainer. It’s weird to think I’ve been with this trainer for a year as so much has changed. But after routinely going to the gym and getting a lot of guidance, I’v seen a lot of real changes in my life.
From the change in my overall figure to some of the more mental aspects.
Some of those mental aspects being that we can often do more than what we initially think.
As I’ve been working out, my sense of body awareness has increased. It’s to the point now where I know I’m lying to myself or when I’m telling the truth when I’ve reached my limit. In cases where I’m cutting short, I know that I can be pushing for a few more reps before being done.
Working out is the most obvious action since you’re pushing yourself physically, but this can also happen with other things in our lives. We are often capable of more than what we are already doing. The only thing that is needed from us is the belief and time.
Moving forward into this new year, remind yourself that you can be doing more good on what you’ve already done. You can surprise yourself just how far and so much you can grow from reminding yourself of this.
2020 Reminded Me That This Too Shall Pass
There’s been a number of things last year that have been draining. There is of course the pandemic that has spread across the world. And to make matters worse, there is a new strand that’s even more contagious than the last running about.
There’s also been the chaos of American politics, financial turmoil, and a whole host of other things to rhyme off too. But at the end of the day, I remind myself of on saying I learned:
This too shall pass.
Yes, 2020 was a bad year for all of us for many different reasons. There is nothing that we can do to change that. But one thing that we can do is collectively accept that, and move on as all things are temporary.
Trump has been booted out of the office thanks to several contributing factors. It’s going to take more work than that of course, but it is a step forward.
We have a vaccine now for COVID and that’s slowly being administered to people bit by bit. Many officials are saying that by Spring, things should be better.
And there are still so many people out there who are making efforts to be changing the world and making an impact in any way they can. From essential workers to those making start-ups to address other issues that could crop up in the future if they’re not addressed now.
It’s incredible to see people coming together and looking to make a difference. It’s inspiring. And I’m hoping that 2021 will display more of those things.
So long 2020 — you chaotic year. As much as last year was an absolute wrecking ball of a year, it’s also a year to be oddly thankful for. It’s a year where it exposed so many issues in politics and government, our own mindsets, amongst many other things.
It also showed us the good things that we’ve done and what is working for us. Take automation. There was a time where people were against that, complaining that “robots are replacing our jobs!” Now, thanks to automation, we’re able to mass-produce vaccines and issue them faster, helping to overcome a pandemic that has put many of us on the back foot.
We still have so much to learn and grow. As a start, take these lessons and reminders and put them to good use in your own life. In their own way, I believe these will make your 2021 much better.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon
Originally published at https://ericscottburdon.com on January 1, 2021.