5 Lessons the year 2020 taught me

Just a few more days before this year 2020 comes to an end.

In the last few days of any year, I like to reflect and look back at the year gone by. I usually write down the good, the bad, and the ugly things that happened in my life and how I responded to the same. I also look at the goals that I set at the start of the year and review how much I could achieve or otherwise.

This exercise gives me an occasion to slow down and pause. It also helps me set goals mindfully for the next year.

For sometime, I have stopped making new year resolutions. They do not work for me.

“I want to lose weight” means much less than “I will wake up at 5 AM daily and go for a walk for 30 mins every week day for the month of January.”

After the month of January, it becomes a daily habit and so I do it without even thinking.

For me personally, 2019 was pretty negative. I was not happy with who I was and how I was living my life. I decided to make “2020 my year of change”. So, just before this year dawned, I took a fresh notebook and wrote down the changes I wanted to see in myself. Then I broke them down into actionable points.

Who knew 2020 will turn out to the ‘year of change’ for the whole world?!

Today, as I sit down to reflect on how my 2020 was, I pen down 5 lessons that this year taught me.

Life is unpredictable, but still make plans

All of our goals for 2020 were thrown awry due to the pandemic. Does that mean we should stop setting goals and making plans?

One major goal I had for 2020 was to finish the second draft of my work-in-progress novel manuscript.

Since I was finding it tough to take time out to write, I made an ambitious plan to take a leave of 7 days, go away to some nice mountain homestay and finish the draft.

Of course it didn’t happen. In fact, I didn’t open my novel manuscript even once in this entire year.

However, I surged ahead with some of my other plans and even created a new blog and the ecosystem around it.

I am mighty proud of the fact that I could achieve most of the goals in my list for this year, despite the chaos that it was.

Despite what people might say about the futility of setting goals, I believe that it keeps us on our path and provides us direction.

I, for one, like to know where I am headed.

Life is fine without our social circle

We make a lot of our lives about our social circle.

Friends, family, neighbours – all of them shape our lives and influence our thinking in one way or the other, to the extent we get influenced by their opinion in living our lives.

For example, I am too conscious of how people perceive my home. So, I spend a lot of energy and time and money, decorating it, keeping it tidy and generally maintaining it.

When social calls became nil this year, I stopped bothering about the big picture and focussed on what gave me joy.

I let my toddler mess things around and would clean up only at the end of the day.

I rediscovered my joy in gardening.

I also realised that we can go for days without meeting friends, having parties or going out to cafes and restaurants. We kept in touch with the people that matter over video calls and let everyone else be a part of the social media.

All the things we get hyped up about life are actually quite small in their impact.

Little things matter the most

Number one of them is gratitude.

During the pandemic, I had a job, our family had steady income streams, our loved ones were safe and none of us had to walk thousands of kilometres just to reach home.

I also had support in the form of my in-laws and live-in help to take care of my toddler and help with other house chores.

I had time to write blog posts, do office work, cook for the family, and spend time with my 2-year-old daughter.

Lockdown taught me cooking and baking finally. I baked three birthday cakes this year!

I enjoyed trying new recipes to compensate for lack of outside dining.

I enjoyed posting on Linkedin and interacting with people.

I loved my daily 30 mins walk on the terrace early morning when going out of the building was prohibited in our condo.

I loved experimenting with Intermittent Fasting and seeing the weighing scales responding positively.

I might not have found these small (and big) joys had my life continued the same.

And those really mattered.

Not the ruined plans for a trip to the US.

Or not buying any clothes this year.

Work from home is very productive and possible

When the pandemic hit and we were forced to go into lockdown and begin working from home, my life was thrown into a chaos. I had 5 adults and a toddler at home. I was certain I could never manage work from home.

After a week, I realised I needed to take steps to make it work.

I calendared my entire day in Google Calendar.

I got ready in the morning as if I was going out to work. I got out of the PJs and got into, not formal wear, but something better than night clothes.

I established a routine for myself, which helped my toddler to understand that Mamma is not on a holiday even though she is at home 24*7. She stopped being too clingy and let me work from behind closed doors.

I found the flexibility offered by work from home extremely helpful.

I could utilise the morning hours to finish urgent work assignments and not waste time in getting ready to go out and then in commuting to my office.

I could tend to my toddler when she demanded my attention and then complete my day after she slept, without feeling tired.

I took help of technology and created a system for my work productivity. It worked and is still working brilliantly.

Zoom and MS Teams calls were as effective as face-to-face meetings. In fact, they were shorter, crisper and a lot quicker than travelling to another city for a meeting.

Tea and lunch breaks of office were now used to spend a quick 5-minutes with the family.

Truly, work from home is every working mother’s dream state and this year gave me that rare opportunity.

Life happens when you are busy making other plans

I started out the year with a certain plan and it completely flipped.

But in the process, I discovered what I truly love to do.

It made me realise again and again that we hardly get to plan the course of our lives.

Life happens to us.

Once we accept this truth, we become much at peace with how our lives are shaping up.

I am happier, more fulfilled, and much calmer. I know my purpose and goal. I also know what I have to do to fulfill them.

These are the five lessons this year taught me. Share with me in the comment box below what has been your takeaway from this year.

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