I’m sure this isn’t the first post you’ve read like this. It’s the popular time of year for people to start reviewing and reflecting on the events of the year in order to set goals for the new year. And with a year like 2020, there is a lot to reflect on and think about as we move forward.
I’ve heard so many people say that we shouldn’t be moving forward from this year like it never happened, and I completely agree with that belief.
However, 2020 may feel like a challenge to reflect on and remember. I’ve heard the year described in all kinds of different ways. One of my favorites is a “dumpster fire”. That felt pretty accurate at different moments throughout the year.
It’s safe to say that 2020 was not the year that anyone anticipated it to be. But the way that we choose to reflect on and remember this year is going to make a big difference in how we choose to move forward. Here’s my personal example.
My 2020 story
You’ll get a kick out of this. Here’s my Instagram picture and caption from January 1, 2020.
It was a beautiful morning. My husband and I sat out at Apollo Beach in Florida which was about 10 minutes away from our house. We listened to the water gently lapping on the shore while we dreamed and planned for the year. It was a new year and a new decade and it was going to be amazing.
Well… y’all know what happened after that in the world, but here’s a little more of my own story.
2020 started with a bang
2020 started with bedbugs! That’s right. That’s something most people probably wouldn’t admit, but I’m too tired to care about your judgment right now.
In November, I kept noticing these bumps on my daughter. We went to the doctor twice—nothing. Had the pest control company out to the house—nothing. And then 2020 started and we found a dang little bedbug in the hallway, which ended up being an entire house infestation (and I still believe they must have been in the rental house when we moved in but that’s neither here nor there now).
I’m super cheap and didn’t want to spend the thousands of dollars that the pest control company wanted to handle it for us, so we tackled it on our own. Long story short… it was a nightmare. We spent money. We spent time. And we lived with many of our belongings in trash bags in the garage for months. Not fun, especially when you have three kids. But eventually, we won that battle.
But before it ended…
Coronavirus hit. My hypochondriac 13-year-old daughter caught whiff of the coronavirus story before I did. She was worried about it when it started showing up in January with reports from China. I assured her it wouldn’t be a big deal. Oops! Obviously, I was wrong.
We went into lockdown in March along with the rest of the world.
My husband’s uncle ended up hospitalized for almost 2 months with COVID including weeks on a ventilator before turning the corner, recovering, and being able to come home.
And while I could tell you a bunch of stories from that time in lockdown in a new state that we still weren’t that familiar with, I won’t. We all had our crazy COVID stories from 2020 and to be honest, I’m tired of talking about it and hearing about it.
And then we moved…
Because why wouldn’t we move out of state in the middle of a global pandemic? We had lived in Florida for 11 months before moving back to Kentucky, but it’s not like you think. We LOVED Florida and still do. But we felt the need to be closer to family during that time. We made it back in August which was just in time to be able to travel back to Michigan over the period of the next several months for important family events including my aunt’s funeral.
Moving is hard. Losing a family member is hard. 2020 was hard. And that’s an understatement.
There is just no denying it. This has been a rough year. And I’m one of the lucky ones. Yes, we experienced loss and disappointment and changed plans. But not like some people.
My 2020 story – revised
So, let me tell my 2020 story in a different way.
We started 2020 at the beach in a state that we had worked to move to for years. My husband had a good job and I was in the process of really starting to brand and grow my business. Things were going well.
In February, we got an awesome discount on tickets to Epcot from the homeschooling group that my daughters were a part of. It was freezing cold that day, but we had a blast and created amazing memories.
And speaking of the homeschool group, my daughters were getting to be part of some fun things because we were finally getting settled into our new home. One of them was learning guitar, another taking art lessons, and the youngest was loving being in gymnastics.
When the community shut down because of COVID, we reconnected with the church that we enjoyed attending in Kentucky by listening to sermons online. Throughout the year I got to have some incredible conversations with my oldest daughter and really saw a lot of positive growth in her life.
When people were missing connection, I started doing weekly Zoom calls with three friends that I’ve known since childhood. And, my family started doing weekly Zoom calls with my parents and sister’s family in Michigan. We played games and had baking competitions even though we lived states apart. We were connecting with people more in those few months than we had in quite a while.
While we loved living in Florida, we felt the need to be closer to family. We are blessed enough to have family that we enjoy being with and decided for the time being we wanted to live closer. I’m blessed to work for myself, and my husband previously owned a company in Kentucky, which made our move back a little easier. We even moved back into our old rental house, so we settled in quickly.
Our move to Kentucky enabled us to travel to Michigan several times. We attended my brother-in-law’s wedding, my cousin’s wedding, and Christmas with our families where we learned that we were expecting a new niece or nephew.
I had the most successful year in business that I’ve had so far. And I’m excited for 2021.
Look at the difference between the two stories
All of those things are true. All of those things made up my 2020, along with many other good and bad moments.
Look at the difference that our thoughts can have on us.
If I choose to focus on the first 2020 story and all of the things that went wrong in the year, I would be depressed. And I know that’s true because I went through stages of doing that this year. I got all caught up in following the news headlines. First, it was coronavirus. Next, it was the rioting. We had helicopters circling our neighborhood in Florida because of protesting and then moved to Louisville, KY right in time for the downtown area to be under curfew because of riots. And then we wrapped it up with ridiculous politics.
When I focused on all of that, I was overwhelmed, scared, fearful, and shut down. I wasn’t productive in any area of my life because fear and negativity were controlling me. My husband and daughters didn’t get the best of me. My clients didn’t get the best of me. No one did because you can’t offer your best self when you are living in fear, anxiety, and overwhelm.
But when I chose to focus on the good things, or to at least keep the bad things in perspective, it changed the narrative. I started to grow again and feel like myself again.
It’s all about what you choose to focus on
What about your 2020 story? I believe it’s important to reflect on and learn from each year that we face. I also believe it’s important to set goals (I’ll talk more about that in a later post). But more than anything, I believe it’s important to be aware of the mindset that you have as you work through those processes.
When you reflect from a place of fear and anxiety, you will remember and focus on the negative things that happened. It becomes difficult to see the good.
When you only reflect on the good things, you miss important lessons that you should be learning about yourself and those around you.
So, I challenge you, as you work through reflecting on 2020 and planning for 2021, make sure you’re in the right mindset. Don’t get stuck focusing on the bad, even if you have to work extra hard to find the good. I promise you that you’ll find it if you look hard enough.
What were your defining moments of the year? Feel free to share in the comments.