Deep Thoughts

What I learned in 2020

Well, what a year that was! Probably a slight understatement but it’ll be a year we won’t soon forget and one forever burnt into our history.

I’ve heard many people say that 2020 has been a lost year.

However, I can’t agree with this. I don’t think it’s been lost, rather I think it’s one that’s presented a variety of opportunities, and time (whether good or bad) to slow down to assess how we’ve been living up till now.

So, with the turbulence of 2020 comes a somewhat diverse set of learnings from my own world in the last 12 months. Here’s a few that I believe are worth sharing.

Good work takes time

They say it’s the journey and not the destination which is the most fun.

We often fall prey to missing the great moments in our own journeys as we are so focused on reaching the destination. Although getting to the finish line is great (bar death of course) it is in the long arduous journey that one learns and finds out more about themselves the most.

In a society of instant gratification, one hit wonders and YouTube stars, you can’t be blamed for thinking that it doesn’t take that much to get a lot in this life.

But, good work takes time my friend.

This isn’t a new thing I’ve learnt but rather one that’s been reaffirmed to me with the availability of more reflective time across 2020. Six week wonders will come and go. Whether that’s the hot thing right now in social media, technology or your workplace.

Yet, the real good work takes real time.

Don’t be disappointed if your road to greatness takes more time. You never know what it might eventually bring you and where it may take you.

It wasn’t the apocalypse we expected but it’s the one we got

How ironic that all the big budget films and Tv shows from the last decade have peppered us with countless alien invasion and zombie themed apocalypses that most expected and strangely, felt prepared for.

Yet, no-one imagined what we’d really face was death by zoom, fear of toilet roll shortages and obsessions with home baking.

It most certainly hasn’t been the apocalyptic event many would have expected, yet, it’s the one we got. Instead of being chased by the undead or fleeing the other worldly invaders, we’ve dealt with a set of more internal challenges.

We’ve been forced to spend a lot of time with ourselves and navigating disconnection from our communities. Despite being a very introverted/ lone wolf character myself, even I have missed the social connection more than I expected.

So, another lesson from this year has been to appreciate more of that connection when it does return. We are social creatures after all, and if we don’t have each other, what do we have?

It was never a digital revolution, it was an inevitable evolution

It’s funny how the tagline of the “Digital Revolution” has been around for over a decade but it’s never really happened. Well, not at a great impact anyway.

Instead we do what we always do  – evolve when we need to. And, the pandemic created that very need for us.

Almost overnight, we were all faced with the need to barricade in our home and learn how to use an array of remote tools. For those of us who are tech savvy, this was like executing on the mission you’d be training years for but for many it felt like being in a lost open field with no sense of direction.

2020 has most certainly cemented once again, our reliance on digital technology. And with this, it has put even more focus on the needs of our society to adapt our skill sets to be digital first.

The narrative of the need to be more digitally savvy changed from the less critical need to learn how to use a video conferencing tool for work, and into a more critical need as a tool to keep connected with loved ones in times of disruption.

We are all predictable in how we learn things. When the need is here, we’ll make time to craft the skills to navigate our challenges.

The 2020 pandemic has accelerated this area of our lives. The digital revolution is over – we’re living in the digital era now.

Keeping my shit together when the world is on fire

This has been no easy task for any of us and we’ve all had our personal battles to fight on many fronts.

I’m sure many of you like me have just been finding time to breathe and telling yourself things will be fine. I’ve discovered a number of things that I’ve turned into a semi-practice I’ve used to navigate 2020 and will use for all future chaotic events – hopefully no more pandemics.

You can read about what I discovered, the actions I took and how I’ve crafted this into a semi-survival manual for future moments of chaos in this deep dive post.

We can design a better way of doing this thing called living

I’ve had a lot of random thoughts, reflections and what I liked to call moments of clarity during the various lockdowns in 2020 (you can explore loads of these here btw…).

None stuck with me more than the realisation that we all might be doing this thing called living wrong.

I mean, it sounds so stupid to me now to even think that I’ve spent over 10 years of my life awakening at ungodly hours to travel to a far away destination in the busiest of condtions with fellow humans to do some stuff.

And I did all of this because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? 

Well, I don’t think that’s what we’ll be doing anymore. We are most certainly not going back to the way we operated before and nor should we. I for one will not be designing and living my life and work the way it was.

The disruption of the pandemic has shown us that we have better ways to design our approach to life and work. Although we’ve had tough times, we’ve also been given a lot of space to look at the way we operate.

One thing that’s clear to me, is that the office is not where work gets done and many of us most certainly don’t need to be there at stupid man-made timeframes to do stuff. A great deal of angst is caused in so many of our lives by the archaic model of delivering work.

2020 in it’s strange way has given us all the peek behind the curtain to see first hand how we can live better together and build a lifestyle design that works for each of us.

Keep staying weird, keep dreaming

I include this in every entry in my yearly “What I’ve learned this year” series and 2020 is no different.

If anything, 2020 has made me want to keep doing this even more.

I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic at heart and always look to believe in the enormity of the possible. I’ve tried to keep that same mindset with me throughout 2020 too.

I’ll share an excerpt of my own here that I shared last year too. It’s still very relevant, even in these times.

Throw away the masks, unplug yourself from the matrix of what society expects and discover what you want. Be true to yourself as long as it does not hurt others. Find the stuff that gives you meaning, because yes we are here for a fun time, but it’s not a long time. So, make sure you make the most of your time and be who you are, not what you think you should be.

You might also like

What I learned in 2019

Resources that inspired and influenced my work in 2020

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