Lessons from 2020

Holiday card with 2020 image

At the end of each year, I reflect on the lessons that I have learned. Typically they are business-related. However 2020 has been unlike previous years and my views have been heavily influenced by political and public health issues. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Elections have consequences. Until 2016, I took principled government for granted. I didn’t see a lot of difference between Democrats and Republicans who, I believed, both wanted the best for our country despite philosophical differences. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the role of governors or local officials. All that changed in 2020 as I watched the national and local responses to the pandemic. I am grateful that Governor Cuomo instituted mask mandates and other mitigation measures to slow the spread of covid-19 in New York. And I am appalled by the leaders who made masks and social distancing into a political statement.
  2. Planning doesn’t always work. I have always been someone who loves planning and achieving goals. I don’t think any of us anticipated a pandemic, racial unrest, political polarization, or many of the national disasters that occurred this year — and the fallout it would have on our businesses and personal lives. I have not started planning for 2021 because there are so many unknowns.
  3. Personal connection matters. I am a total introvert and usually enjoy my quiet, somewhat antisocial lifestyle. This year I realized how much I relish the ability to hug my son (who doesn’t live with me), see my parents, or have coffee with a friend. I’m grateful to share my home with my husband and daughter (plus our two dogs) and have human interaction on a daily basis. My heart breaks for people who cannot visit loved ones, especially those in nursing homes and hospitals.
  4. Self-motivation needs to be a priority. Solopreneurs do not have bosses to assign work or hold us accountable to meeting deadlines. This year I saw many business owners flounder in a post-covid landscape. I had to make a deliberate effort to stay motivated and continue creating weekly content for the Solopreneur Academy.
  5. Black Lives Matter. I am a white woman who lives in the suburbs. I’ve never even had a speeding ticket and had a very neutral attitude toward the police. I am embarrassed that I was not aware of the amount of systemic racism in law enforcement or the brutal murder of black citizens for “crimes” like passing a counterfeit $20 bill or carrying a Subway sandwich. I can’t imagine the anguish experienced by people of color who know that about 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police. (Source)
  6. Pandemics are terrible. We have already lost 300,000 Americans due to the pandemic and an additional 3,000 people are dying every day. The impact on businesses and people’s lives is devastating and incalculable. I have been angry and disgusted that people have made this worse by declaring covid-19 to be a hoax, gathering in large groups, or deciding not to wear masks.  
  7. Essential workers are heroes. In addition to the tireless work of our healthcare providers, I am very grateful to local grocery store clerks, truck drivers, and online retail employees who’ve enabled me to stay safe during the pandemic. These individuals have sacrificed their personal health and safety and deserve our profound gratitude.
  8. Health is everything. So far my immediate family have avoided covid, but we did have our share of health issues in 2020. My husband and I were both in accidents as we worked to complete a home construction project. My father and brother were hospitalized and experienced serious blows to their health. These experiences reminded me that it is impossible to work when you are sick, injured or worried about your health (or the health of your loved ones).
  9. Hobbies are important. I think that solopreneurs often consider hobbies as unimportant compared to running their business or other obligations. This is not true! This year I spent a lot of time quilting, which gave me a feeling of accomplishment and a break from the news.
  10. Pets can break your heart. Pets have been a big source of comfort during the pandemic. Unfortunately I know many families – including my own – who lost beloved pets during the last year. I am pretty stoic but the loss of our 15-year-old dachshund was heart wrenching. Her passing unleashed a flood of emotion from the stress of 2020.
  11. DIY haircare sucks. I have short, fine hair that got extremely shaggy during our shelter-in-place orders. My daughter gave me a couple of haircuts which, although not great, were far better than I could have done myself. I also started dyeing my own hair and discovered that dye was causing my hair to fall out. I now appreciate my hairdresser even more than I did before.
  12. New York is not a part of New England. After our dog passed, we tried to adopt from the New England Beagle Rescue. We filled in an extensive application that was rejected because New York is not a part of New England. That was news to me. I will blame my Canadian education for falsely assuming that New England was a synonym for the 13 Colonies. (For those of you who are equally uninformed, New England is made up of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.)

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