Guest Blog by Vionna Adams, a recent graduate of the Hay There Social Media Training Program
In the past, I have always been surprised when a friend would declare that she was glad the year was coming to an end because it had been so awful. (Really? How had she allowed the entire year to be terrible?)
I cringe at the idea of having a bad day, let alone a bad year.
Let me explain. I could have considered 2015 to be a bad year. My father had passed away in March after a suffering from Parkinson’s dementia for several years, which was really tough on my family. However, if you had asked me on Dec. 15, 2015 if it had been a bad year for me, I likely would have said “no.” You see, my youngest daughter had been born in April, and I had started a new job in November that I was quite optimistic about. (In fact, that job positively changed the way I viewed my career.) And while these two events did not erase the pain of losing a parent, it would have been a lie to say the entire year had been terrible. It’s a perspective shift, at least for me.
Then 2020 comes along to challenge my long-held belief that there is no such thing as a bad year. Luvvie Ajayi Jones refers to it as being a “dumpster fire of a year,” and I am not going to try to convince you it was not. So many people were waiting for the year to be over, but when the clock struck midnight, and the calendar turned to 2021, what changed?
For me, not a whole lot.
You know what definitely can change? Your attitude. If we take the time to sit and think about it, I am sure we can salvage some small treasures from the dumpster fire to alter our opinion of 2020 and make 2021 even better.
Here are some things we did and changed in 2020 that will continue in 2021. They are small, but they help me keep perspective and joy as we keep navigating the pandemic.
I am not going to front, having all four of us in the house 24 hours a day for months on end was not easy, but when I look back, I see that some good has come of it. My girls, who are 5 and 7, have become even more independent. They put away their own laundry now. (Hallelujah!) Seriously, I don’t even bother to fold it. The 7-year-old has learned to use the toaster oven, and they both are comfortable making their own sandwiches for lunch.
Although we have missed getting together with our family on the east coast, our low-key birthday and holiday celebrations have actually been quite fun and much more relaxing.
Hands down, my favorite new family ritual is “Friyay.” The four of us celebrate the end of the week with Shirley Temples (made by our new 7-year-old resident mixologist) and an adult beverage. I do believe this tradition is here to stay. (Yes, we have taught our girls the joys of Friday happy hour already. Don’t judge.)
Not having a long commute saves time and reduces stress. Sort of. I truly learned the value of having a commute this year. It is the buffer between the demands of work life and home life. Without it, I became overwhelmed. When am I going to catch up on my podcasts and talk uninterrupted to friends on the phone? So, I built a mini commute into my schedule: I take a walk around the block by myself to get my mind right for the day that is about to start and to decompress at the end of the day.
What have you learned about yourself professionally? Did your decision to reduce your work hours to support children with remote learning turn out to be a good one? Or maybe you got certified in a new skill, started a side gig or made the leap to start your own business. Perhaps you decided that quitting your job to homeschool your children from now on is best for your family, and you actually like it.
Perspective is everything
Sometimes, a small perspective shift can help lead to a happier and more optimistic view. No, you don’t have to be positive all of the time (no one really likes those girls on Instagram who try to make their lives seem perfect), but it’s important to see the good with the bad.
It might seem cliché, but taking a moment to remember (or even write down) what you are grateful for in the morning can start your day off on a positive note. Gratitude does not have to be profound. You might be grateful for the fantastic sheets on your bed or the new yoga pants you bought. Or you could end each day by writing down something positive that happened that day: You picked up the kids on time, the cute earrings you ordered on Etsy came in, you discovered more hilarious Bernie Sanders memes. Identifying just one good thing per day can help shift your perspective, turning a boring or bad week into a better week.
Still having trouble finding the bright spots? (I have been there!) Then it’s time to start planning. You can schedule a little time in every day to do something fun or relaxing like a family bike ride, an extra-long shower or catching up with old friends on zoom. If you are feeling really motivated, you can start an online book club (or whatever your hobby or passion is!) to give you something to look forward to. Sometimes, we just have to make it happen!
So, here’s to a change in mindset and cheers to a memorable 2021!
Vionna Adams is a recent graduate of the Hay There Social Media Training Program. She lives in California with her family. In addition to being an engineer and planner specializing in urban development, she is also a project manager, author and a social media consultant. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Instagram.