2020 was not a kind year. In fact, it was quite the polar opposite. Between the pandemic, the economic downturn, and every curveball that the 2020 months threw at you, it might feel very appropriate to write the year off at a total loss. However, just because you had a bad or a below-expectations 2020, does not mean that the entire year was a waste. Even if you ended in the red, had to shudder your business, or faced personal setback, it does not mean that 2020 needs to be considered a failure. We sympathize with your plight and understand that many things may have gone wrong, but this article is here to help you view 2020 in a positive light and, hopefully, to view it as a year that at the very least you can learn from.
Start and End
This article seeks to help you put 2020 into perspective through a series of guided questions that can help you understand just what the chaos of 2020 meant and might mean further still for your life. Let’s start with the basics, how did you start 2020?
Were you at the same job that you are at now? How long had you been at that job? What was your financial position? Did 2020 catch you mid-ascent or did it accelerate your descent?
These might be uncomfortable questions, with answers that you don’t enjoy. That’s okay. 2020 was not an overwhelmingly positive year for many people and it lobbed many curveballs that were beyond your control. Now, how did you end the year? Were you at the same job? Did you consider or attempt a career change? Did your savings account inflate or deflate?
In order to learn from 2020, you must have a decent understanding of where it took you. Did you go up or down? When you can pinpoint what changed, you can then begin to understand why and apply that knowledge to the current year and hopefully all of the years that are to follow after.
The questions that are listed under the previous heading will tie in greatly to these questions presented underneath personal growth. Take the time to chew on your answers and write them down if need be. Before we dive into how your business took hits or put out fires in 2020, let’s check in on how you did personally.
You may have had family members become ill, jobs are lost, and finances be stretched. Take some time to think about how these have affected you throughout the year. How are you feeling personally? Are you happier now than you were then? Are you more nervous? Feeling more frantic? If so, what caused these heightened ill-feelings?
Take time to understand yourself and see specifically how your life has changed over the past twelve months, for better or worse. This will later help reflect how your personal life is invested in the health of your job or business.
How did your business grow? Whether as an employer or an employee, did you see your company expand in its number of employees or did it shrink? Was your company dedicated to taking care of you as an employee even if you had to be let go as the Pandemic and shutdown roared on?
The way you view 2020 may greatly depend on how you felt treated or how you felt forced to treat others? The turmoil wrecked upon the economy and the personhood of millions by the events of the last year has forced many people to make uncomfortable and unhappy. How has this affected your life? Are you more cautious around your employees? More distrusting of your employers? Are you worried about what might happen when you get your next job?
It is okay, and natural, to have these hesitations about having to cut employees or be laid off yourself. However, you need to be aware of what kinds of patterns those fears, and anxieties can form in your life. Make sure to understand your fears and to understand where they came from in the past year.
Did your business grow in scale? Were you forced to cut employees as clients dried up? Did you expand to any new channels of income? Is your business growth reflective of your personal growth? If you’re like most businesses, in the past year you have seen resources, clients, and cash reserves recede as your stores have run dry. This is unfortunate, but it is an economic fact for millions of people within the past year. However, this article is not to help you access specific economic setbacks but to understand how your personal growth and your business growth might be aiding or hindering one another.
Would you consider your personal growth to fall within the same vein as your economic growth? As your business was hit by every curveball 2020 had, did your mental health take a toll alongside it? How symbiotic is your personal growth towards that of your business? Can you flourish personally without flourishing professionally?
What many people discovered within the last year is how tied up in their company and their job they were, even if they were not the owner or primary employee. 2021 may be the year for you to distance yourself and focus on personal growth.
Looking back on your year, what were the largest setbacks you faced? Did you lose a job? A family member? Were your vacation plans canceled? Did you miss your daughter’s wedding or your grandson’s birth?
2020 came with a unique and often visceral set of challenges for everybody. Odds are you faced many obstacles that you never expected, let alone that you were readily prepared for. Take some time to understand, access, and address those setbacks. How can you learn from what happened, even if it revolves around events beyond your control? What can you do differently in 2021 to ward off similar setbacks and hardships? When you understand what went wrong you better equip yourself to create opportunities for what can go right.
Biggest Surprise Victories
Just because 2020 was a bad year does not mean that it has to be considered a total loss. Even if there were far greater things that went wrong compared to the few that went right, there are still lessons to be learned and victories to be celebrated. What was memorable and victorious about 2020? Odds are you will find that your setbacks may have also acted as launchpads or opportunities for you to create successful situations for yourself. Did the loss of a job lead you to a new career? Did the downturn in your usual clients lead to the pursuit of new channels for growth?
Did you add a member to your family? Did you move to a new neighborhood? Did those long few months of quarantine grow you closer together with your family? 2020 had its losses, for sure, but make sure to take the time to discover and celebrate the victories that it brought about concurrently, even if they were not the victories for which you’d planned.
Is 2021 on track to repeat the shortcomings and upsets of 2020? What do you see in the months ahead that you have been seeing for the past eleven months? Are there any hurdles that you have already had to overcome in these first few weeks of the new year? How can you plan to meet 2021 differently than you met 2020?
Part of the sting of the previous year is that it came with little warning and many people found themselves completely unprepared for events and circumstances unprecedented and beyond their control. 2021 looks to come at us with many of the same challenges and new spins on them to boot. By assessing how your 2020 unfolded you can prepare yourself to take on 2021 with greater resolve and better foundations. Again, it may not be an ideal year, but that does not mean that it needs to be written off as a loss.
2020 is nothing short of difficult. You may feel that you experienced it worse than most, and that may be entirely possible. However, bad years do not need to be all bad. Even in the unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, unexpected blessings and opportunities may come your way. You may find that you have grown personally in ways that you never anticipated. You may find that your business has found sure footing in ways that you’d never planned or expected. When you take the time to critically access the previous year, you can soundly understand its impact on you and your business. The better you understand that impact, the greater your potential to tackle similar situations head-on and emerge the victor.