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A Year of Growth | Celebrating What You Achieved in 2020

Lakshmi Hutchinson

two women elbow bumping

Happy new year, dear readers! It’s safe to say that 2020 was a challenging year for just about everyone, both professionally and personally. And now that we’re safely into 2021, it might be easy to live under the philosophy of “Out with the old, in with the new.” However, we can still take a moment to reflect on what we were able to get done last year under such difficult circumstances. Even if you feel that you don’t have much to show for the past year, you probably learned and accomplished more than you think. 

The successful transition to a remote environment

Did you move from the office environment to working from home? The transition happened so suddenly that many of us had to scramble to make the best of our surroundings, learn and adapt to video calls, and do our best to handle multiple responsibilities at the same time. Even if it hasn’t gone smoothly all of the time, think about what you’ve been able to do:

  • You acquired a number of new skills. From perfecting your video interview style to learning how to use breakout rooms on Zoom, you probably became well-acquainted with new tools and software. You may also have become better at facilitating meetings (and determining which meetings are really necessary).
  • You became a pro at multitasking. Whether your university courses moved online or you had to manage parenting and working from home simultaneously, there was probably a lot of juggling of priorities involved. Maybe you even figured out a more equitable way of sharing a space or tasks with others in your household. 
  • You may have found you prefer working remotely. Our collective success in working remotely during this crisis is really a silver lining. The flexibility to work remotely part-time, which would be welcomed by many workers, could become the norm after the pandemic is over. 

Increased community or political engagement

And there was a lot more to 2020 than the effects of COVID-19 on our work lives. This was a year that was marked by unprecedented political activism and voter participation, Black Lives Matters protests against police brutality, and community engagement and participation. 

  • You worked towards becoming an ally. Whether you took steps to educate yourself on systemic racism, or you got involved with supporting fights for justice, you can count that as a step towards greater growth and understanding. 
  • You became an engaged voter. Did the 2020 election have you following senate races that you would have previously ignored? Perhaps you found yourself in the position of having uncomfortable (but important) conversations about politics with family members. If you became a more engaged voter and participant in civic engagement, then something positive came out of the situation. 
  • You looked out for your neighbors. The growth of mutual aid groups to support our neighbors during the pandemic showed us all the strength and possibilities of community during trying times. If you offered to help a friend or neighbor who was struggling, donated to a diaper bank, or otherwise looked out for others, you were part of the solution. 

Personal growth or resilience

Sometimes the greatest achievement is just persevering under difficult circumstances, and that in itself should be celebrated. You may not have acknowledged or even recognized the ways in which you’ve become a stronger or more adaptable person:

  • You became a more empathetic leader. If you supervise others, did you learn to be more understanding and attuned to what your employees are feeling? This is a quality that will enhance your leadership skills and contribute to a more collaborative and honest workplace culture.
  • You learned something about yourself. Maybe your growth was unrelated to the professional sphere. Perhaps you reflected on and adapted your parenting style, learned how to set boundaries, or challenged yourself to pursue a passion or interest that had been on the back-burner. 
  • You managed stress and practiced self-care. No matter what, you have to give yourself credit for getting through the stresses caused by the equally challenging extremes of being alone all the time or suddenly having zero personal space. Hopefully you found a method of self-care that works for you—and that you can continue to incorporate into your daily life once the pandemic is over.  

There’s no doubt that 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult years that many of us have lived through. But when you reflect on the year, be sure to remember that you made the best of your situation during a global pandemic.

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Lakshmi Hutchinson

Lakshmi Hutchinson is a freelance writer with experience in the nonprofit, education, and HR fields. She is particularly interested in issues of educational and workplace equity, and in empowering women to reach their professional goals. She lives in Glendale, California with her husband, twin girls, and tuxedo cat.

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