Hey, Ambitious Fam! One of my favorite things to do around this time of year is to reflect on the past year as a whole. Reflections are important throughout the year (hence, my monthly wrap ups) as they allow you to learn, evolve, set new goals, and practice gratitude for the things that you have experienced. There are many ways to reflect. Instead of writing a letter to myself as I have in past years (see 2018 and 2019 versions), this year on the blog I am opting to specifically focus on three of my big takeaways from the challenging year that was 2020. As much as we all would like to just strike the year from the records (so to speak), I rather take some of the hard-learned lessons learned into the years to come.
Here are a few lessons that I learned (or was reminded of) in 2020:
Stop and Smell the Roses
Around March of 2020, time began to stand still. We thought (hoped) that the Covid-19 pandemic would be contained more quickly. That this period was just a short pause before we could return to “normal” life. However, as the weeks dragged on, people began picking up quarantine hobbies, going on walks just to change up the scenery (guilty), and taking pleasures in the little things with all of their new found time. This period has allowed me to really hone into my gratitude practice and relish in a slower pace of life. I started reading more, meditating regularly, picked up digital art, got plants–lots of plants–thus discovering my green thumb. These activities all started out as tasks just to fill the time, but I genuinely hope to remember to slow down more as I continue through life. To stop and smell the roses.
It’s Ok not to be Ok
2020 was a challenging year for my mental health. My default setting is to be always on the go–to be chronically busy and distracted with little time left to ruminate or address the things that would bring me down. I’m tearing up just thinking about it, but there were very dark days where I felt like I lost my identity and I had trouble believing that I would ever be “myself” again. Combine months of that with the trauma of being a Black American and witnessing name after name become martyrs, the fear of watching the country in a state of political unrest, quarantining with little to zero interaction with others due to the pandemic, the fear and anxiety surrounding Covid-19, actually contracting Covid-19…ya girl was not ok.
However, there were times throughout the year where I was reminded that it was ok not to be ok. It unlocked another level of vulnerability in which I didn’t have to be perfectly put together or positive 100% of the time. It reminded me that I have amazing people in my life. People who would check on me often, comfort me through my tears, send me letters, drop off food, meditate with me, and generally made this year bearable. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Tomorrow is not Promised
While my general approach to life is very “you only live once” when it comes to trying new things and goal setting, 2020 put some other elements of life into perspective. It was a big reminder of how fragile life is and how time spent with loved ones shouldn’t be taken for granted. I also realized how important it is to spend more time actually doing what I love. When things open up again (maybe…hopefully…eventually), I plan to be more mindful about how I spend my time and who I spend my time with.
Another great way to reflect: Complete a Life Audit
One of the YouTube creators that I follow, Jules of Om and the City, started a Calm and Collected New Year series on her channel that I highly recommend as a tool for reflection. I have completed a life audit wheel before, but her template and guidance made the process so easy! The first step of the process is to rate different areas of life (for example, finances) in terms of satisfaction/how you feel. For this to work, you have to really evaluate yourself without judgment. Next, you think about where you would like that number to be the following year. After that point, you dive deeper into each of the areas. I especially recommend this series as a starting point for creating 2021 goals. This will ensure that your goals will align more with your values and how you want to feel next year. You can find the FREE Wheel of Life yearly life audit workbook by Om and the City in the description box of this video.
I drafted a majority of this post prior to the White supremacist/insurrectionist led coup attempt at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. The second lesson on the list seems much more relevant now. That being said, I still have hope for 2021, hope for the future, and hope for this country.