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Transitioning from 2020 to 2021

December 21, 2020

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I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty glad this week marks the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. 2020 was a roller coaster of a ride. It started out with high hopes and uplifted spirits and feelings of “this is it, this is the year to accomplish _____!” And ended with loss, numbness, skepticism, and overall feelings of uncertainty for what the future holds.

Because even though 2020 was rough and I’m grateful to see it end, I want to be careful not to put all my hopes and dreams and expectations on 2021. 2021 seems like it’ll be a better year, but if we’ve learned anything from 2020, there are no guarantees.

Yet, I also don’t want to let the roughness of 2020 totally dismantle any sense of hope, dream or expectation I could have for 2021 either. There were many rough patches of 2020, but there were bright spots too. I have to remember that even if 2021 is another rough year, there will still be bright spots.

So, where does that leave us? How do we transition from 2020 to 2021? How do we plan and dream for it with a balance of loss, celebration, and hopeful expectation?

The short answer is: I don’t know.

I don’t think any of us in this current lifetime really know as this is, what every news outlet calls, an unprecedented season and time. There isn’t a protocol or guidebook for “How to Live Life Post a Pandemic.” Because it just hasn’t happened quite like this before.

Helpful, I know.

But, there have been a number of other worldwide events and disasters that have happened around the world from which people have emerged and transitioned from that we can learn from. I think of individuals coming from either of the world wars, or any war for that matter. I think of individuals coming out of the Great Depression. I think of 9/11 and, for myself personally being a Bostonian, the Boston Marathon Bombing. And on a smaller, although no less difficult scale, I think of any personally tragedies, loss, discouragement, hardship, and struggle that an individual might be going through, and the transition from such a space forward.

And this is what I notice.

There is a time of reflection, to consider all that happened, the losses, the bright spots and the impact each had on ourselves. In other words, asking ourselves, the question “What happened in 2020? What were the losses and hardships experienced, and how did these make me feel/impact me? What were the bright spots of 2020, and how did these make me feel/impact me?”

Asking ourselves these seemingly simple, yet significant questions, and truly taking time to pause and reflect is the first step to transition. We can’t take a step forward if we don’t know from where we are stepping.

Another way to phrase that is, we can’t transition into something different or new, if we don’t know from where we are starting. And taking inventory with how we are doing currently, being impacted by all of 2020 (good and bad), is a helpful place to start for understanding how we are doing.

A helpful reminder for this is that reflection and pausing might take more than just a quick 30 minute jot session. It might take a couple days or might unravel itself slowly over the course of 2021. It might mean asking for help from someone else, a close friend or professional help. It might mean going through a few tissue boxes. Or it might mean none of that. But the important bit to remember is, each person’s reflection of 2020 will look different. Each person’s hardship points and moments of celebration will look different, because everyone’s story is unique. And this is a good and beautiful thing.

Following reflection on 2020 and having a right-er mindset/perspective of how we’re starting 2021, helps us better know what is realistic for dreaming and expecting from 2021. For example, if I didn’t take 2020 into consideration at all and thought myself full of the same energy and capacity as I was at it’s start, I might dream and expect 2021 to be the best business year yet, to complete huge house projects, to have a brand new product line emerge, etc. And then when I began to set out on that, not realizing that I’m actually a lot more drained from 2020, missing expectations along the way, I could forsee a downward spiral start to take place. Of feeling like I’ve failed and that I am in myself a failure, incapable of reaching goals or expectations.

When in reality, that is far from the truth. It’s not about missing expectations because I’m a failure, but I’m missing expectations and goals that were probably never going to be reached given my starting point. It would be more because I had created expectations and dreams that are unrealistic for my starting point of being more physically, mentally and emotionally drained and working at a much lower capacity than I imagined. See how that works?

So, take that into consideration, even as I seem to contradict myself in this next bit.

I still think it’s best to dream big and dream huge and imagine all the great possibilities for 2021. I don’t think that 2020 can stop us from dreaming big or wanting to expect big things, and I think we should still be able to. I think it’ll help free our minds from whatever shackles we’ve put ourselves into based on 2020. So dream big, initially.

But as you start to turn those dreams into expectations and goals for 2021, then maybe consider what is actually realistic. This isn’t to crush your dreams, but to help us realize that we do have big dreams and goals. And we ought to keep those as our vision for where we are headed, knowing that 2021 might just be a first stepping stone towards them, not the last stone.

So. How do we start to transition from 2020 to 2021? How do we plan and dream for it with a balance of loss, celebration, and hopeful expectation?

  1. Take a pause to reflect on 2020 – the bad, the ugly, the good, the bright spots, the celebration moments. Make a list of the losses and the celebrations. And ask yourself, how did this impact me this year? How am I doing now?

  2. Dream big for 2021 and then create realistic expectations with those big dreams and goals as the vision.

This is how I think we can transition from 2020 to 2021. It takes into the magnitude of what happened in 2020, helps us evaluate 2021 in a right-er mindset, and move forward without forgetting the past.

And honestly, this will likely be a process that needs to be repeated all throughout the year and that’s good! It’s important to reflect and pause, celebrate and grieve, periodically. That’s why the Kindred Planners have been designed with periodic reflection space. We need to take time to reflect in order to acknowledge how we’re doing, where we’re going, and why we’re doing what we’re doing. We need it to remember that we’re not just robots out to live the best lives possible, but human beings with dreams and goals, and heartaches too.

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks for how to celebrate first, how to plan for your year, and how to organize your planner, I’ve linked them here. Another blog post will be coming with how to organize your Simple Planner in the next couple weeks! Join our Kindred Letter list to know when it drops.

But before you click on any of those, I would recommend you take some time before making any resolutions or goals for 2021 and go through these two steps. Commit some time to process. I guarantee it’ll help you transition just a little smoother from this year into next.

With joy & gratitude,


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