This year has been and continues to be distinctly uncomfortable. It’s forced change. It’s annihilated certainty. It’s demanded we cope with loss which has been different for all of us. Loss, itself, is about change. Whether it’s been the loss of your routine, loss of plans, of your job security, of friends and family, or “just” loss of what you knew for certain which has forced you to reconsider life as you know it – loss takes much energy to process.
If we fight it.
Loss takes less energy to process if we observe it, sit with it, and let it flow through. Loss, like change and uncertainty, has a flip side. Loss is about processing appreciation for what was, without knowing how that void will now be filled. Change and uncertainty, likewise, are filled with unpredictability – it is their very nature, their definition. It is our lack of acceptance of this uncertainty, our struggle to maintain control over our lives in the face of it, and our search for what we know for sure that exhausts us. If we’re able to breathe through it for a while, we can access the gifts that appreciation brings us.
The flip side of 2020 is that it’s been a clarifier.
If there was any inherent instability, 2020 has shown it up. Whether that’s in our businesses, our relationships, our current situations and circumstances, or ourselves. 2020 has picked holes in what’s sustainable and what’s not, and it’s asked us to consider what’s truly important to us. 2020 has pushed buttons which, one way or another, have produced results worthy of our consideration. It has focused us differently – and that is a gift.
For me personally, it significantly readjusted personal plans, forcing me to take a look at where I was truly headed over the next few years. It landed my son, who is normally a boarder, on my dining room table for 7 months of online schooling. Not only have I had the gift of that time with him, but I’ve got to watch him morph from the 13-year old who’d started to surpass me height-wise at the end of last year, into a 14-year old young man with a deeper voice and deeper opinions who now proudly rests his chin on my head when I hug him. I have watched him change shape, change stance, and weigh in on our future plans in ways we would have missed completely were it not for the weirdness that is 2020.
The gift of 2020 is that we have been shaken. We have been challenged. We have been asked to dig deep and to consider what is at our core, and what anchors us, and what is truly important. We’ve been asked to consider what our personal gifts are, and for many, that has felt like a stripping away of everything known. We’ve been challenged to consider our stance on everything from world order, to vaccinations, to the many differences that can divide us as a human race, if we let them.
No matter what state 2020 has left you in at this particular moment – whether you’re in the camp who have managed to find their feet and allow the flow of change, or whether you’re exhausted by it all and still uncertain which way is up – I encourage you to look for the light. I guarantee you there is some, and I’m also pretty sure it’s packaged as individual and highly personal gifts for each of us if we’re open to them.
Even if you’re still reeling from what looks like the decimation of your career or plans – I guarantee there is something in it for you if you’ll sit quietly with it for a bit. I’ve been watching a series called The Queen’s Gambit which tells the rather epic story of a young female chess player entering the world stage. At one point, she (Beth) plays a match against a young Soviet prodigy who declares “I will be World Champion one day.” “When?” asks Beth. He replies, “In three years.” She questions, “If you are World Champion at 16, what will you do with the rest of your life?” “I don’t understand.” he answers.
2020 is something of a reset. It has asked the question, “What will you do with the rest of your life?”. It has also asked us how we will do things. Some have chosen the every-man-for-himself route which is energetically unsustainable. Many have chosen the better-together route, reshaping the way we act and respond to each other. This ad (below) from Burger King is a prime example. What is important is how many of us can survive these changes – and doing so means reassessing how we extend ourselves to others. It’s no fun alone, and 2020 has asked us to take a renewed look at what it means to share our energy with others in a reciprocal and cyclical replenishing of community.
2020 has asked us to dig deep and define what drives us. What drives us is deeply individual. Whether we’ve had to dig deep because we’re not sure where further strength will come from, or whether we’ve reached a state of unsustainable anxiety where we know something has to change, 2020 has asked us to reconsider what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It’s asked us what our purpose is. In one of his latest videos, best-selling author, change maker (and highly expressive), Gary Vaynerchuk talks about overcoming anxiety by using it to find and acknowledge your flow. Are you listening to the buttons 2020 is pushing with you? Because they’re FOR you…if you listen.
Human Factors Specialist and friend of mine, Dave Doull, wrote a recent article also speaking about the pain of change, entitled “Take Ownership of Your Passion”. He highlighted how we can dwell in the pain, torching everything and everyone around us with a “blame thrower”, or we can choose to flex our courage and passion to reassess what’s true for us. Dave masterfully and with great clarity quotes Simon Sinek’s golden circle concept to explain why we must be sure of what we’re pivoting around (what our core is and what’s important to us personally) so that we don’t over balance trying to pivot around something that is not our centre, even though it felt like it was – such as a career.
2020 has asked us to reassess. It has scythed away many things that we thought were the centre of our worlds. It has changed what we thought we saw, and how we regarded our world and our position in it. It’s asked us to appreciate the true gifts that no one can take from us – working from our verandas to the call of a Fish Eagle; the privilege of watching our children grow and change; regular Zoom calls with people we could easily have called before and didn’t; what our true passions and reasons for acting are; what we’re really prepared to fight for and action because it’s important to us; how much our relationships with the people we cherish mean to us and what we’re prepared to do about them.
What are the gifts that 2020 has brought you? What have you been pushed to reassess? What are your fear and anxiety pointing you toward if you listen? What do you have the courage and passion to go after? What do you know about yourself now that you didn’t know before? What is truly your part to play? And who can you help and take with you along the way?
by Christen Killick
November 9th, 2020