The new year begins with January, aptly named for the Roman god of doors and transition, Janus, whose two faces look in opposite directions – forward to the future and backward to the past. Janus might very well shake his two-faced head in dismay as he surveyed the year we are about to leave behind.
People are fond of looking over the departing year to celebrate highlights, regret lowlights, and glean what wisdom they can to take with them into the new year. And 2020, by any measure, is a banner year for reflection. An historic pandemic, civil unrest, and seismic political divisions weigh down one side of the scale, but these are balanced by break-throughs in communication technology, vaccines developed at sonic speed, and undergirding it all, a commitment to learn from our mistakes and the triumph of the indomitable human spirit.
Here is a list, by no means complete, of some of the wisdom people have gleaned from their “2020 vision.” Call these resolutions, if you will, but these run deeper than promises to break in February. This past year has convinced us of the importance of these “takeaways”:
1. Take Care of Ourselves.
Number one on almost any list is the realization that we should all be mindful about our health. Wearing masks, washing hands, and distancing were just the tip of the iceberg. Self-care emerged as the top trending Google search shortly after Covid made its appearance. Beyond avoiding the corona virus, we realize the importance of eating right, exercising and stress management. Long after Covid in conquered, self-care is fundamental to health and happiness.
2. Take Nothing for Granted.
There is nothing like deprivation to help people appreciate even the smallest things. Toilet paper, for instance, will never again be the quotidian commodity that is was pre-Covid. Eating in a restaurant, traveling, going to a movie, visiting friends, even sharing a smile with a stranger – all the past-times and pleasures to which we feel entitled were cruelly taken away from us this year. When they return, we would be wise to be grateful every day and appreciate what we have.
3. Take Things in Stride.
A few years ago, Richard Carlson gave us some sound advice in his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . And It’s All Small Stuff. One hundred little takeaways from this book included gems like “Surrender to the Fact that Life Isn’t Fair,” “Become More Patient,” “Learn to Live in the Present Moment,” and “Ask Yourself the Question: Will This Matter a Year from Now?” It all adds up to reducing stress, especially the kind of stress that accompanies a long-term crisis. The cultivation of patience is especially valuable. When this crisis comes to an end, as all crises do, will the trial find us stronger and wiser?
4. Take Stock.
As we emerge into a new sense of normalcy, we will find out that “normal” will come with a new way of doing things, not a return to the way things used to be. Never has the statement “The only constant in life is change” been more true. We can’t put the genie into the pre-2020 bottle. This presents a challenge to all of us – how will we respond to this new normal? For some, it will mean a retooling of skills or entire new career paths. Others will find themselves adjusting to losses and limitations. There will be new resources, new paradigms, and new challenges.
5. Take a Look Around.
We have been isolated as a result of this pandemic. But, as the poet John Donne said, “No man is an island.” The new year promises new opportunities to gather. We will gain a new appreciation for the importance of community. Teamwork will emerge as more important than ever as we begin to rebuild trust, productivity, and opportunities. It’s time to look beyond our own needs to reconnect with others. The year 2021 promises to be a great time to renew our commitment to working together.
Since 1998 Group Dynamix has been a leader in bringing people together. Our specialty, which sets us apart from other event and team building operations, is facilitating activities that improve relationships, increase camaraderie, and encourage collaboration. Visit groupdynamix.com for more information.