As we get into the final few months of 2020, I find myself celebrating the approach of the end and the opportunity for a fresh start, but also celebrating all the lessons I’ve learned. Emotions have been high and the workloads feel heavy. The world has felt uncertain and chaotic for so long. People have been in sustained periods of stress and in and out of burnout. This is our hard reality.
When we go through challenging seasons like this one, it’s important to acknowledge and accept the difficulties we face. Denying our true feelings or trying to push through keeps us from making the course corrections that can improve our circumstances and our character.
We can put our energy into denying, resisting, and wishing things would go back to normal, or we can acknowledge and act for positive forward progress. Hard realities make opportunities for insight and growth.
This year we were stripped of all we had built to protect us and keep us inside our comfort zones. We lost our sense of belonging and accomplishment. Plans were wrecked and goals became unattainable. We had to take a hard look at what really mattered. We were forced to find our worth outside of achievement. What a gift.
Our culture of busy keeps us from having to think too much. We go about our routines and habits. We fall into going through the motions. We fall into going through the motions and checking boxes. Studies show that on average, only 5% of our thoughts, feelings, and actions are conscious choices. That certainly makes life easier, but it also allows us to settle into mediocrity.
Many of us were mindlessly hustling through our life: doing what others wanted and expected, striving for what culture says we need, pushing through and piling on. We experienced high highs and low lows like a rollercoaster. For many of us our lives were full of outward achievement but inner exhaustion and emptiness.
This is how we’ve lived. The proof is in evaluating the top regret of the dying: I didn’t live a life true to myself. We live our lives asleep. Unaware. Distracted. Reacting. 2020 gave us a huge opportunity to slow down and to wake up. To live differently if we have the courage to dig deep and face our fears and feelings. What a gift.
Culture teaches us to avoid hard things. To hide our feelings. The truth about feelings is that they are energy, and they stay with you if you don’t deal with them. We carry them with us if we don’t process them whether we know it or not. We know it to be true because so many people are stuck in them. Why did this happen? They can’t get over it. Can’t get through it to ask them selves “what now?”
Do you find yourself wishing things would go back to normal? Are you frustrated or overwhelmed with your current reality? Then it’s time to stop avoiding hard things and act. Only you have the power to change your circumstances. Nothing will change until you change. What a powerful life lesson. What a gift.
Make time to slow down. Get clear on what you want. Focus on what you can control. Be disciplined in your approach. Surrender and accept the outcome. Learn the lessons and keep trying. Living your best life and doing your best work requires acknowledging and accepting reality especially the hard stuff, and taking intentional action.
Don’t wish this year away. Make this year the one that changed your life for good.