Personal Development

How to Reflect on a Year Like 2020

posted on December 30, 2020 | by Kelley Matney

How to Reflect on a Year Like 2020

I think it’s fair to say that 2020 was not the year anyone expected when the clock struck midnight last New Year’s Eve. At times, it’s been almost comical to look back at all the goals and plans we had for this year because boy oh boy did the universe have different ideas.

I flipped back through my journal to last December, to read my goals for 2020. There were things like, travel more, be better at making time to see friends and family, get healthy (eat better, exercise, etc.), get out of debt, and find a new job. Phew—are you serious, last year me? None of those things happened, for some of them, the opposite happened!

But now there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even though COVID numbers are ridiculously high right now and we have a scary few months to survive; with a new president and two vaccines with EUA approval from the Federal Drug Administration, it feels like change is coming.  

Get some perspective

One of the best things I did accomplish this year was to start going to therapy for the first time. (You can read more about that journey here). One thing my therapist has pounded into me is that there are times in life when we thrive and there are times when we just simply survive. IT IS OKAY IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU DIDN’T ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING THIS YEAR. I type-yelled that at you because it’s important. We are quite literally living through a once in a lifetime event. A pandemic of this proportion comes around every 100 years or so. To pair that with a less than stellar government handling of the event, the racial justice reckonings that have been a long time coming, and a particularly intense presidential election cycle—just surviving feels like the equivalent of winning a gold medal.

Lessons learned

Like the end of a painful breakup, you may feel the urge to forget and move on, but it can be helpful to look back through the pain for lessons you learn in hindsight. It doesn’t have to be anything big or profound, but I am sure that if you do there will be some things you will see about yourself that you will make you proud. Just making it to the end of this year is an accomplishment on its own and it has shown me how strong, adaptable, and resilient I can be in the face of true hardship.

Practice gratitude

As I mentioned, one of my goals for the year was to get a new job. At the beginning of 2020, I was working a part-time job that was supposed to hold me over in the transition until I found a job that I was genuinely excited about. I was going to take my time and put in the work to not just find another paycheck but to find something that I was *cliché alert* passionate about. Well, that DID NOT happen. While the part-time job I was working was far from my dream job—many days I truly hated it—I was lucky to have a paycheck at all, especially when so many had been laid off. There are things that in the moment fill you with anger, resentment, and frustration but, when you look back you realize you are actually grateful that they happened.

Lockdown, staying home, and social distancing can feel like cruel and unusual punishment but when you refocus you can realize just how lucky you are to have that option, take the time as this year comes to an end to express gratitude to the people in your life who made that possible—the grocery store employees, the postal workers, the teachers, the health care professionals, etc.

A seed of excitement

While a new president and a COVID vaccine are not going to solve all our problems and there is still much work to be done, it is okay to be excited for the light at the end of the tunnel. After all, it is the hope for change and the hope of better things to come that ultimately get us through the darkness in the first place. You would think I would have been too scarred from the new year hopes dashed by 2020; maybe I’m an optimist or the pull of a new year is strong for everyone; but I am excited for the future, for the weddings that were postponed, the family holidays that were missed, the birthdays we have yet to celebrate. I am excited for us as a society to hopefully take the lessons we’ve learned through adversity and use them to make a better tomorrow.

What are you excited for in 2021?