The year 2020 is finished and most of us are more than ready to move on and embrace a new year. For many of us, the faster we can forget 2020, the better. Many of us are adopting Paul’s words from Philippians when he said,
One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…” ~Philippians 3:13-14
All well and good except Paul was not talking about completely forgetting his past. And, much as we want to, we should not forget this past year and simply move on. Our experience with 2020 should have taught us so many things to remember as we now press onward into 2021. It taught us lessons and showed us how we need to change.
Yes, we need to forget 2020 in that we should not wallow in our sorrow about all the activities and events that were taken away from us. We should not obsess over what could or should have been. But we should never forget. If we simply forget 2020, those lessons we were to learn were all for nothing.
Paul had one aim in moving forward towards what lay ahead of him. His eyes were constantly on the prize of salvation and he did not allow his mind to become distracted by dwelling on the failures of the past. He didn’t want to become distracted by constantly revisiting the obstacles and difficulties he had overcome. His focus was always on a future prize. And he used those past lessons he learned to help him get there.
If we insist on forgetting this past year, we risk continuing the destructive patterns and behaviors in our lives and we learn nothing from our recent experiences. So what should we not forget about 2020? What lessons can we take with us as we turn out attention towards our goals of 2021?
- Begin with the end in mind. Just like Google Maps and Mapquest, we have to plug in our destination before we can plan our route to get there. There may be multiple options that need to be considered in order to, hopefully, avoid disruptions. Many of us had a destination in mind for our life for 2020, but our route was detoured not even a fourth of the way into the journey. How do we need to approach 2021’s destination? Perhaps we need to first evaluate where we really want to go and why.
- Relationships are important. No one is an island. Not even introverts. We are created to be relational creatures. We crave it. Even the best introvert will eventually admit they miss interacting with someone. Let’s not take our relationships for granted ever again. As too many experienced in 2020, when we think there’s plenty of time to share or reconcile differences, there will come a time when that choice is taken from us forever. Let’s not put off nurturing/developing/repairing relationships now while we have time. Time is a limited resource. Let’s not take any relationship for granted ever again.
- Pivoting is a life skill. The ability to shift to a new direction at a moment’s notice has become a skill set. The ability to change course while keeping balanced and continuing to move forward can help alleviate stress when life throws those unexpected curve balls. Pivoting does not mean failure. It’s a fundamental change in strategy. It’s flexibility to turn and rotate while continuing to move forward towards a goal. If 2020 taught us anything, it was how to pivot without completely falling on our faces.
- Loneliness is not the same thing as being alone. A big casualty of 2020 for some of us was mental health. Many have struggled with the isolation of being separated from actual human interaction. It seems counter-intuitive that in this age of technological connections, people would feel lonely. But we all know that is not true. We’ve discovered that while business and education can be conducted through Zoom, social media, email and other electronic methods, it’s not the same as sitting beside another warm body. Some of us navigated the transition and were able to find creative ways to socialize, but others found nothing but loneliness even when plugged into the outlets. We learned it’s okay to ask for help when we’re struggling with these issues. We learned how to look beyond our own self interests and offer help.
- The fast lane is overrated. Usually, our 21st century preference is to finish quickly….so we’re able to move on to the next shiny new thing. But, in the blink of an eye, the world ground to a halt and life shifted into slow motion. Many of us discovered life….not in the fast lane. We learned it’s okay to slow down. We learned if we won’t voluntarily slow down, life will slow us down. We discovered there can be joy in savoring small moments. Many of us realized hanging out with family without rushing to get places can be rewarding and precious. We tapped into our inner Martha Stewart or Builder Bob and discovered some new skills or completed those long to-do lists. And, some of us had an epiphany that food doesn’t always come from a menu and that it takes time to cook with love.
- Gratitude is an attitude. Sounds so cliche, doesn’t it? But I defy anyone who lived through 2020 to not come away with some lesson about being thankful for the things we’ve been given; thankful for the intangible things that cannot be taken away; gratitude for appreciating what we have instead of always wanting more. Having an attitude of gratitude allows us to build a life around what truly matters and instills in us a peace that cannot taken away by anything this world throws at us.
Regardless of what you thought of the last 365 days, 2020 was an extraordinary year. Moving into 2021 is uncertain, for sure. We need to not let what caused us to stumble last year distract us from continuing to run the race with our eyes on the prize.