I'm sure that many of us started this year toasting the new decade, excited and full of enthusiasm. This was going to be 'our time', full of promise and potential. Well, that certainly didn't work out as anticipated!
And so, when for many of us everywhere has been closed or only available with limited, restricted access, it's been over to us. Not dissimilar to a redundancy, an unexpected relationship breakdown, a serious health situation occurring. Those situations where your only choice is the way you deal with what's being presented to you.
What are your reflections on this year?
At the beginning of 2020 I'm guessing many of us measured success in terms of results, accolades, promotions, gains. Yes, even now winning and achievement are still important but have less significance as other things have gained prominence in our lives.
During a year when we've been mostly discouraged from leaving our homes there have been very limited options for working, shopping, socialising away from our homes. Much has transferred online. Taking time to stop and smell the coffee when we've been restricted to our four walls has meant we could either do nothing or find alternative ways to live well. It's prompted us to look at our lives in different ways.
For many our priorities have been amended. Valuing the relationships we have, our health and the health of those close to us, the human contacts we have, the importance of our homes has taken the place of things we perhaps used to value most highly.
As we reflect on 2020 we may discover that many of the things that used to make us happy are less important. A day spent shopping may have once been a treat, but it's not so delightful when the practicalities mean going alone, no browsing or trying on, one-way systems in shops and being offered only one shoe to try.
Other things have been found to bring more joy and pleasure into life. Sharing recipes and baking, seeing family and friends, walking in the countryside or along the beach are things that now feel meaningful and spiritual, grounding us and bringing satisfaction.
Our relationships have been subject to serious scrutiny this year due to our living in much closer proximity than we ever anticipated. Valuing our nearest and dearest has been a top priority, though some relationships have floundered due to lack of space, patience and privacy.
It's not been an easy time, with new ways of navigating co-existence and finding ways to respect each others' need to work, play and have some quiet personal time, whilst trying to be aware and supportive should dark times arise.
For those of us unable to see our children, grandchildren, vulnerable relatives, the elderly or those with underlying health conditions, these months have been especially harsh.
We've discovered who our real friends are, the people who've maintained contact through phone calls, zoom or thoughtful cards. Neighbours and local support groups have been much appreciated, keeping in touch and delivering food to those who've been struggling or are in need.
Work and Money
Many of us have found that whilst we've been earning a lot less our finances have been eased by our inability to spend as usual. No relaxed shopping sprees, meals out or holidays have meant that we've been able to cut back. Finding ways to pare spending has been a revelation.
Work for some has been problematical, accommodating working from home alongside children and family members, plus apprehensions at what the future holds. Certainly keeping affloat has been the immediate concern, rather than striving for promotion, even though some businesses have thrived through being in the right niche or adopting a flexible approach to business.
We've perhaps realised that our fast-paced job is less appealing than it once was and that working from home is a less stressful, more comfortable way to work. A survey discovered that 9/10 who've worked from home during lockdown would like to continue doing so.
Also, many of us may have found alternative ways to get what we've needed, exchanging surplus food with neighbours or doing favours for each other instead of hiring someone to do those jobs.
Mental health has come under the spotlight this year, due to the major impact of events. We've all had occasion to reflect on our lives, our futures, the things of value to us. Having some personal time away from these thoughts has been important, especially for those locked down together in busy house shares.
Allocating time to exercise, to go for a walk, run or bike ride in nature, has been a lifeline for many. Or making time to read, enjoy a leisurely bath, pursue a hobby, do something creative has resulted in baking becoming especially popular, as has revisiting hobbies like painting, gardening and creative interests.
Escapism and a break from the house and other people has been important in providing space and time away from brooding, overwhelm and the stress of these uncertain times.
Being thankful for things we've never really reflected on has been a very special outcome from this year. Our health care providers, farmers, food suppliers, teachers, delivery drivers, even the weather, the special people in our lives, our pets. And respecting ourselves too, our resilience, resourcefulness and ability to stay positive (in the main!) and keep going.
What a year it's been!