Reflecting on 2020 & planning for 2021

2020 was an interesting year for all of us. It was a year full of challenges, hardships and loss, lessons, opportunities to grow, moments for reflection and gratitude. Many of us realised the importance of freedom, human connection and relationships, our health, adaptability, being present and living because life is short, being employed and having people who support you when the chips are down. Regardless of what 2020 meant to you, I believe that there is power in pausing to reflect on the year that was — the lessons you have learnt, your successes, your failures, the things that brought you joy and the things that didn’t — so that you can re-focus on the things that work for you, the things you want to do more of and the things you want to achieve in the coming year.

My reflections

I also started a small business. I had an idea of a product I wanted in my own life — I researched, contacted suppliers, ordered samples, designed the product, created a website, branding and launched it. My business hasn’t been as successful as I planned but for me the exercise of taking an idea and backing myself to turn it into a reality has been huge for my personal growth and I wouldn’t take it back.

I’m proud of myself for trusting my gut and leaving a job I wasn’t happy in, I’m proud that I put myself out there by starting a business and I’m proud that I stayed positive and held my ground that everything would work out and that I didn’t get certain jobs because something better was waiting for me — because that is exactly what happened.

What I learned in 2020

Choose who you let in your personal circle wisely

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries

I am a generous and kind person and unfortunately, a lot of people take advantage of people who have those qualities. I burnt out in 2019 after giving myself to others for years and not looking out for myself. In 2020, when I focused on looking after myself and making myself happy — I was shocked at the difference it made to my life! I know now just how important it is to not give too much of myself to others so that I have something left for myself. I have learned that I can be generous and kind but also keep my own cup full — by setting and maintaining boundaries. I constantly reflect on the relationships in my life and analyse if they are bringing me more joy than unhappiness and if the answer is no — then they have got to go!

Life is short, I know that better than ever after I saw my brother pass away in 2019. Life is too short to not do the things that bring you joy! I have also learned that you can be dedicated and hard working but still leave work on time (most days anyway). Unless something can’t wait until tomorrow then leave it, go home and rest so that you can ensure you’re always showing up as the best version of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup and as much as I love a good bath/face mask, self care is also about ensuring that you set and maintain the boundaries that allow you the time to rest and recharge!

You can be happy without “stuff”

Practising gratitude is something that helped me and also focusing on the future and the things I wanted to achieve to keep me going. I now know that while I want to have nice things — I don’t need them to be happy. I know that there are so many things in life that are far more important than “stuff” and I think that’s a pretty brave thing to admit I have learned (at the risk of sounding vain).

Confidence starts and ends with you

I have learned that it is normal to have days where you’re feeling yourself and days where you feel blah but that on your blah days you are not any less worthy. I have learned that confidence is something that you grow through self-love and acceptance and that it is extremely empowering to accept yourself — flaws and all and to look after yourself not because you need to change the way you look but simply because you love and appreciate your body. I have learned that there will always be people/things that challenge this relationship and that it is on us to maintain a healthy relationship with our self-worth and confidence and that we should never rely on others to make us feel valued or worthy.

You don’t have to know everything to start

I have learned that just starting — whether it’s a new job, a business, a podcast, a blog, a new hobby…is the first step and it is often the hardest one to make. Don’t let the fear of failure — what might happen and what could go wrong stop you from starting! Even if things don’t work out, there is always a lesson to be learned and sometimes you hold yourself back just waiting to plan the perfect journey to get there and then you never actually start.

It’s great to have a plan but don’t write it down in permanent marker

I also learned that there is nothing wrong with being positive and believing that the bad things that have happened to you are making way for better things — and that it’s okay to ignore anyone who tells you differently. So, make plans for 2021 but perhaps write them down with pencil so that you can change them as you go if life throws a few curve balls your way!

Let it go, let it gooooo

As a perfectionist and someone who likes to feel in control of their own life, it’s been a big learning curve to accept that my life is like a train — I can be in the driver’s seat and control certain things but sometimes I’m a passenger and the train is going in its own direction and that sometimes I need to sit back and trust the process. 2020 was a great year to learn this lesson because not a whole lot went to plan!!

2021 — let’s do this!

Some of my goals for 2021 are:

  1. Buy my first home as a single independent woman who don’t need no man (but who would like a good one, know any!?);
  2. Become a permanent employee of the wonderful law firm I work at (Bespoke Family Lawyers), learn heaps and get to help my clients transition through separation so that they can rebuild their lives and create new and brighter ones (like I have);
  3. Do less of what I think others want me to do and more of what actually makes me happy — making sure I am constantly evaluating what does or does not bring me joy as I go;
  4. Get better at tennis (I can try);
  5. Continue making time for self care;
  6. Plan an awesome 30th birthday celebration — but not too far in advance because #covid; and
  7. Continue to be open and honest and share my journey as an early career lawyer with other future law leaders and offer support and guidance to those who are earlier on in their law journeys than I am.

So, if you haven’t already I would totally recommend that you set aside an hour sometime in the next week or so to reflect on your learnings from 2020 and plan for 2021 (in pencil of course).