What have we learnt this year?
2020 ended, the first few months of 2021 went by – many of us may have thought we were in the clear. 2021 didn’t turn out the way we expected. 2021 was another year of learning. Your learning may have come in the form of personal discoveries, revelations about family and friends or new insights into your workplace.
Meaningful reflection takes time. You need to analyse your own experiences and use them to improve the way you learn or work. It’s an incredibly valuable skill that can help you gain self-awareness and confidence. You need to prioritise this. I challenge you to reflect on your 2021 – what did you learn this year? I’ll tell you what I learnt:
1. The value of my tribe: We’ve all spent more time in close proximity to a small group of family and colleagues – I call them “Quaranteams.” Sometimes these hours were delightful, others infuriating, arduous, elating and everything in between. It taught us how to better adapt to the idiosyncrasies that make us human beings. It showed us that having a supportive, closely-knit tribe is essential for maintaining physical and emotional well-being.
2. To give more to others: The moments of positive human connection benefit both the recipient and the giver, making them feel less alone and less fearful even if there were periods of isolation in between. Giving to others is an inherent requisite of a medical practitioner. Giving fosters 3 inherent psychological needs of us as humans – relatedness (through connection), competence (through the act of helping another) and autonomy (we have the control to give – it is our choice!). When these 3 needs are met – it fosters higher levels of life satisfaction, meaning and purpose.
3. To adapt and build hardiness: We can all admit that before COVID struck, we had certain life-anchoring habits. The pandemic changed this. As the pandemic untangled us from our normal routines, it also freed from us the old ways of doing things, some of which had grown stale – we just never stopped to reflect and change it ourselves – we needed a nudge. COVID has been that nudge. Out of necessity, we tried new things, we may have even risked failure more often. We paid closer attention to self-care, exercising more, breathing deeper and connecting with the outdoors more often.
4. We nurtured our gratitude: Gratitude has 2 components – first to notice something, then to consciously appreciate it. The turmoil of the past year has caused many of us to discover new well-being practices – gratitude may have been one of them. The frontline workers who despite the risk, continued to turn up to work every day, sweating, bleeding, and crying through their PPE just to protect the society in which they live in. All of us would agree that educators are truly essential, perhaps even more so than we could ever fully have understood. For years to come – we owe them our admiration and gratitude.
5. Live with less: Lastly, the bustle, noise and distractions of normal life stopped suddenly. Sometimes creepy, the sudden stillness forced us to focus on what really matters to us – protecting our loves ones and ourselves whilst boosting and protecting our immunity. People expelled their homes and closets of clutter and excess – they came away feeling lighter and less burdened despite the chaos.
These lessons and the best of us do not belong in a dark alley where nobody can see them. Rather, they belong in everyday working and personal life, emphasised, and decorated where they can positively matter and impact the lives of not just ourselves, but everybody around us. Let your lessons drive you in 2022.