Things we’ve learned in 2020 that we shouldn’t repeat in 2021 (or ever)

I have to be honest with you, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I have tried to set them before – every year on December 31st, a few hours before midnight, I would sit down with my diary, write down some major events of the passing year, give thanks for them, and then I would set my big goals for the coming year.

 

‘Stop watching stupid shows on Netflix’, ‘Start exercising three times a week’, ‘Drink more water’, ‘Start studying for exams on time’, ‘Expand my network’, ‘Learn French’… The list would go on and on and on, because I naively believed that at midnight some sort of magic would happen and I would all of sudden become this perfect person that gets up at 5am every day and has their life together.

 

However, at the end of the first week of January, things would go back to their usual messiness.

 

But guess what? There is nothing wrong with that. One mistake that I made was I expected it to happen all and at once. So I stopped setting New Year’s resolutions and let things run their course. At some point, especially as I got older, I finally realized the importance of some goals and started working towards them without much pressure. This point actually happened somewhere near the end of 2020. If you haven’t had your ‘aha’ moment, consider this as me gifting you one and here are all the things you learned in 2020 that you shouldn’t repeat next year or even tomorrow.

 

We overbook ourselves

 

Have you looked at your calendar lately? It’s pretty full, right? Color-coded, too? I bet you stare at it thinking how cool it looks and then whine to your friends about it. It’s a new game called ‘OMG Have You Seen My Calendar?’, where we all pretend to be very important and exhausted.

But in all honesty, a full calendar is hindering your productivity. It’s like Taylor Swift says – ‘A friend to all, is a friend to none, chase two girls, lose the one.’ In other words: if you’re trying to do too many things at once, you’re probably doing none of them well, but just enough to pass. But that feeling of emptiness and a lack of fulfillment that’s been bothering you – yeah, that’s why. Stop that.

 

We take too little care of ourselves

 

Thanks to that full calendar, we often overlook both our physical and mental health. If you have been feeling overwhelmed and tired, it probably means you need a break and more time for yourself. We live in a culture that worships a full inbox, unanswered emails, having a few different professional obligations, learning Chinese on top of it and smiling through it. However, if you are not exercising and taking breaks away from social media and the toolbox of the mighty millennial aka Google Suit, you will snap and then feel guilty about it. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to stop. Only by resting and recharging your batteries can you perform at your best and by taking breaks and just breathing in silence, you can actually learn what is most important to you and to what you should devote your precious working hours.

 

 

Mindset is everything

 

2020 was the year where we could officially not feel guilty about achieving too little, because it wasn’t our fault – there is a pandemic going on and the world is under a shut-down. I know so many people that have struggled to focus and get through their studies, or to do anything productive for weeks on end. I also know a lot of people who say that despite everything that happened, this was their best year yet. The difference? The second group disassociated themselves from the external events entirely.

Yes, it sucked that we couldn’t spend more time with our friends and for some, not being able to travel back home and see their families was really tough. But life goes on, it doesn’t stop, no matter what quarantine leads you to believe. Once you take time to rest and recharge, recognize the opportunities you do have and try to make the most of it. I for example never managed to do more exams than I did this year. I tried caring less about corona and more about my future after it. It wasn’t always easy and I had my fair share of depressing periods, but in the end, I had a very successful year. Uncontrollable events happen all the time. But as long as you and your loved ones are healthy and safe, you must do the best you can in a situation and draw strength from it.

 

If you’re not taking risk, you’re not progressing at all

 

As I said, things that are out of our control happen all the time. I have a friend who moved to Vienna with a certain amount on her bank account and had to find a job within the first month to be able to survive and continue her studies. Who in their right mind would do that without having any certainty of success? Well, five years later, she’s thriving and has been thriving for a while now. You don’t even want to know how many times she faced failure, or how many things happened completely opposite of how she planned them out. But she’s more successful than ever before and that much stronger for it. Also, she’s a musician, so this year has ruined all of her plans and left her without income. Right now, she’s organizing a production of Le nozze di Figaro for next year.

 

What am I trying to say here? We have no idea if life will go back to normal next year. It  probably won’t. But that doesn’t mean that we should stop planning for later and working on ourselves in the meantime. The uncertainty is always there. Try not to give up on your goals because of it.

 

So, if you are tired of staring at a screen, go take a nap. Once you’re rested, decide to work on yourself and choose only one thing that is most important to you. If that thing has anything to do with developing yourself personally and professionally, go check out our website where we offer volunteering and internship opportunities and #planforlater with us.

But for now, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the next year be YOUR best year yet.