Five lessons from 2020 to propel you forward in 2021

Just weeks into 2021 and, round the world, many of the challenges we faced last year are spilling over into the new one with our glass of bubbles! While the fresh start we hoped for isn’t within everyone’s reach, we shouldn’t let it stop us from working on our new year resolutions and intentions. Let’s start by looking back over the ‘year that was’. 

Apart from the usual lockdown parenting hacks like sticking to a routine and managing expectations, there are a lot of valuable lessons to pull from the past year — the kind of lessons that will still be relevant long after the pandemic is gone. Here are five lessons from 2020 that we should bring into 2021 and the years to come.

Adaptability is crucial

People, businesses, and families alike were caught off guard when the pandemic arrived. Suddenly, we weren’t allowed to do the things that were once routine. We’ve had to say goodbye to the morning rush of getting kids ready for school, the water cooler chit-chat at work, and just the general rhythm of daily life we’re used to. We’ve built new routines, and companies have changed their business models to meet safety protocols. It just goes to show that adaptability is a vital skill — one that we should carry with us throughout our lives.

Remote work isn’t a walk in the park

Speaking of companies changing their business models, many of us have found that for all its advantages, remote work has its challenges too. Sure, we save on commuting expenses and fancy office wear, but if we’re not careful, we can easily slide into  burnout. In fact, it’s estimated that some 69% of US employees have experienced burnout symptoms in the past year while working from home. Though it seems more convenient on paper, working from home can blur the line between work and life, and we should be finding and setting our boundaries. Remote work isn’t ideal for everyone, and there are some adjustments we need to make to ensure that it works, like regular breaks, a good work area, and effective team communication.

Always have a safety net

On the financial side of things, many of us have realised how important it is to have an emergency fund and backup plans A through to Z. 2020 has seen many working parents adjust financial goals due to the pandemic and the long-term economic fallout from it. Those who were fortunate enough to have uninterrupted income might have placed more emphasis on their emergency funds, while those who were less secure scaled back on education fund contributions and other investments. One thing’s for sure: It never hurts to have funds ready in case of unforeseen complications, and that applies whether or not there’s a pandemic.

Strong bonds can help you through a crisis

We’re spending more time than ever with our children, and that’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic. Friendships and relationships are also important lifelines in such challenging times. And while it’s hard to beat face-to-face interactions with loved ones, video calls are great for reducing stress. Keeping in touch with close friends and family, especially in this pandemic, can improve your cognitive and mental health. So don’t let go of those relationships, and keep your little ones close. When the going gets tough, sometimes all you need is a trusted loved one to be there for you.

Enjoy the small things

The pandemic has turned the world upside down, and everything is stressful, especially for those with children. It isn’t easy being a parent; no doubt about that. But remember that there’s always something to be optimistic about. You just have to do a little digging to find it. Instead of focusing on the bad things in life, seek out the good — a nice dinner with your partner, a kiss from your child, or maybe even a good cup of coffee. No matter how small these things may be, there’s still something to be happy about. Shifting to a more positive mindset puts you in a better headspace and allows you to feel more gratitude for the things you have. It’s a powerful lesson that deserves a spot in our lives.

Are you ready to face the new year with your ‘new normal’? We’re all hoping for better days, but when things get tough, remember these lessons and let them propel you forward. Things will get better, so hang in there.

Written by Christine Andrews. Christine is an Adelaide-based sustainability advocate and writer. She serves as a consultant for nonprofits most days, and volunteers or spearheads movements the rest of the time. When she’s not busy with her work, you’ll find her meditating in the park with her Labrador Retriever, Macey.

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