5 Lessons from 2020
Updated: Feb 22
With a new year ahead of us, it's a good opportunity to reflect on 2020
Last year was a very different, and difficult year for billions of people around the World. For starters, any predictions that were made towards the end of 2019 went down the drain within the first month of 2020. Nobody was expecting what happened, and few people/organisations had contingency plans in case of a global pandemic; it seems not even the World Health Organisation. The unique circumstances of 2020 which include the shutdown of travel, disruption of supply chains, tensions between world powers, and the emergence of a new way of working (predominantly from home) took everybody by storm.
Within the first 45 days of 2020, I was having to rejig my goals, ambitions and approach to the year, both in terms of my personal and professional development. In fact, I had to keep rejigging in order to make sure that my goals were realistic given the changing circumstances, and that my ambitions were attainable (there's no point in aiming to travel to five continents if you can't even get to one). Despite the changes, uncertainty and disruption, however, a lot of valuable lessons were learnt. Below are five lessons from last year's 'once in a lifetime' experience:
We must be very dedicated when it comes to the goals we set but not attached to their attainment.
What do I mean by this? The purpose of goal-setting should not be to achieve your goals. That is a byproduct of working towards achieving our goals. Speak to the most successful people in the World and they'll all agree on one thing: working towards big (and small) goals will give you way more satisfaction than actually achieving those goals. Not only does this attitude keep you focused on being better day in and day out without worrying too much about actually attaining your goals, but it also affords you the flexibility of changing things around when a global pandemic comes along.
We are not entitled to anything.
Nobody on this planet should feel entitled to anything. My point here is that we should all stay committed to bettering ourselves irrespective of how disruptive our external environments become. I haven't seen my family for over a year, but so what? I'm sure there are people out there who haven't seen their families for way longer. I haven't been able to travel for over a year, but so what? Other people may not have had the opportunity to travel as often as I did in 2019 or the year before. The examples are endless. Things change and we need to be able to shift our mindsets without allowing external disruptions (such as a global pandemic) to dim our desire (and efforts) for bettering ourselves.
A daily habit framework is all we need in order to make massive progress (even if we're stuck inside a house or flat for extended periods of time).
Exactly one year ago, I managed to fly back to Hong Kong from my Chinese New Year's vacation to Bali despite numerous fight cancellations. I quickly realised that working from home, spending numerous hours indoors and being far from loved ones for extended periods of time was going to be the new norm, so I drew up a daily habit framework which I was able to implement for three months. Looking back, that simple habit framework was one of the main reasons I stayed sane and the primary reason for achieving the majority of my goals.
We always have two choices available to us: complain or take action.
Every person's experience in 2020 was unique. Not everybody may have been equipped to handle certain situations, and different people thrive under different conditions. I get that and I have the utmost respect for everybody who pulled through. Having said that, I also noticed that a large number of people were spending a lot of time complaining about the situation. The truth is, there will always be something to complain about. That's often a default setting we have, but we can change it. How? By choosing to take action. When something isn't desirable, look for ways to optimise it. Nobody else is going to do this for you.
Success is a mindset.
I firmly believe that success comes down to each individual's mindset. You can take any person with a successful mindset and put them into less-than-optimal environments and they'll still be able to make progress. The same can't be said about putting an individual without a successful mindset into an optimal environment. If you want to be successful you have to choose it, then you need to figure out what works/what doesn't, then you need to make a plan and then you need to execute (more on this in March).