How I've made it through 2020

2020 has been a rough year. And like everyone else, I’m not immune to the fits of depression, stress, and anxiety that have come with a global pandemic. I’ve had weeks where I’ve gotten almost nothing done, and weeks where I felt like I had superhuman productivity.

I don’t have riding the wave of the pandemic figured out by any means, but there are a few items that have helped me be a bit more flexible. I hope to lay them out in this post.

1. Be Flexible

The landscape has changed day to day, week to week. Whether it’s something external changing things, or some internal struggle or emotion causing issues, it’s been nearly impossible to plan anything longer than a few hours out.

I’ve had to learn how to be flexible and forget trying to plan anything concrete. When I’ve been in something akin to a super jelly-like state, I’ve been happier, more focused, and quicker to adapt. This doesn’t mean I haven’t prioritized anything, but I’ve been okay riding the waves of not being as productive or focused if the day is difficult.

2. Be Grateful

It’s so easy to get locked on to what’s next, what’s not done, what needs to happen. But I’ve found when I do that, I miss being present. I miss fully enjoying the moments where my kids are laughing, I’m cooking a meal and getting into the process, or my family is simply together.

One way that’s helped me stay present in the midst of the chaos is taking a second to be thankful for the moment I’m in. This has grounded me time and time again.

3. Slow Down

Pandemic busy is a real thing. When we don’t have commutes or maybe we’re not in endless meetings because of #remote-work, it’s easy to find a lot more time to do stuff. Even being a remote worker, I found the pandemic an easy time to justify starting new stuff. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it caused me to go faster, and faster, and faster. That eventually wasn’t good for my mental health.

I’ve seen in the last few months that I’ve needed to give myself more space for leisure. Going for walks, making something, producing music, cooking, baking. When I do this, it’s like a mental reset for me. Our brains need space to recharge. As a result, just pushing through often has the opposite desired effect. I don’t want to burn out.

4. Eliminate the Inessential

I’ve had to kill projects this year. Projects I’ve liked. And that’s just the reality of life, especially now. To give myself more space, I’ve needed to be diligent to eliminate what I’ve deemed inessential.

Of course, as I write this, I realize these are skills that are needed all of the time, not just in a pandemic. I’m grateful for the pandemic, though, in that it’s taught me I need these things all the more.

How about you? What have you done to help you through the pandemic? Is there anything you’ve learned that you’ll apply for a lifetime to come?

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This reminds of me a Bruce Lee quote:

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2020 is certainly not the year I planned it to be. Most of my 2020 goals on January 1, 2021 were stalled but I had other projects that I could take off the back burner.

A COVID-19 lockdown allowed me to work on other areas of my life. Writing on ERW has temporarily stopped but I look forward to getting back on track soon enough.

Projects didn’t always go as planned but adapting and not feeling bad about pausing projects or deleting them was a key element for my sanity.

Has anyone else recalibrated their goals and expectations this year? Have you started to plan next year’s goals with realistic expectations yet?

Hope everyone here at ERW and beyond have a safe holiday season!

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