Despite all of its challenges, I have a lot to be grateful for this year – I started a great new job, we welcomed a gorgeous new puppy into our family, I made some incredible friends and I started The Sweet Taste Bakery blog.
I’ve also learned a lot this year, so as 2020 draws to a close, I wanted to pause and reflect on the past 12 months.
Because while it really has been a year like no other, there are some valuable lessons to take into 2021.
Here are mine…
Appreciate what you have
Like everyone else, I’ve spent the majority of 2020 stuck inside my house with nowhere to go. And it’s been really hard. But I’m also really lucky. I have a wonderful fiance who I’ve been able to spend so much time with this year. I’ve got three gorgeous pets who give me so much joy. I have a garden that’s given me the opportunity to spend lots of time outside, even in lockdown. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I should never take those things for granted.
Do not ignore your mental health
This year, like so many others, I’ve struggled with stress, anxiety and feeling pretty lonely, so looking after my mental health became a real priority. I learned to pay attention to what I needed and not to punish myself if I needed to take a day to really process how I was feeling about everything going on around me. Sometimes I was able to look forward, but sometimes I just had to take one day at a time and focus on looking after me.
It’s important to stay connected
Just because I couldn’t physically spend time with my friends and family didn’t mean I couldn’t stay connected. I’m so grateful to everyone who made the effort to schedule Zoom quizzes, asked for a video call or just kept me going with daily WhatsApp messages. I’ll admit, at times I didn’t feel like I had the energy for calls, but I would come off them feeling so much better. It’s a huge part of what’s kept me sane this year.
Having a routine is great – but it’s not set in stone
One of things that has really helped me this year is having a routine. When I was put on furlough back in April, I rarely took advantage of sleeping in; I still walked the dogs, got a workout in, did some personal development, did lots of baking, worked on the blog, etc. Writing a to do list every morning helped me feel in control of small things.
But what I also came to accept was that it was okay to change my routine, or give myself a day off. If I didn’t do my workout first thing in the morning, that was fine. If I didn’t finish a course or manage to do my four scheduled hours of research then that was fine. And, like I already mentioned, if I needed to take a day to do nothing at all, that was fine too.
This year, I was supposed to be spending Mother’s Day celebrating with my lovely mum. I should have spent Easter surrounded by my family. I wanted to spend my birthday with my best friends. I should have spent Christmas with my brother.
This year, I was supposed to get married.
Everyone has had to deal with cancelled plans and it really, really sucks. But what I quickly learned is that at some point, you just have to let it go. There has been so much outside of our control this year but instead of being upset or angry about the things I can’t change, I had to learn to accept it, focus on the positive things in my life and move forward.
My productivity does not define my worth
Usually, I like to know that I’ve accomplished something every day. I want to have a plan – I don’t like doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I can sit in front of the TV binge watching Suits on Netflix for a few hours, but I’ll be annoyed at myself if I don’t also do something productive.
This year, that has changed a little bit. While I still want to be productive, I’ve learned to focus on how I feel, rather than what I should have achieved by the end of the day. I don’t have to work out every single day, I don’t have to do housework every single day, I don’t have to learn something new every single day. Ticking things off the list isn’t the be all and end all – my feeling of self-worth is more important than any external achievements.
What are your top lessons from 2020? Let me know in the comments.