When my thoughts turn to the New Year this proves to be a tricky topic for me – I’m no fan of New Year’s Eve. I feel that it’s a day where I look back to analyse the previous year, identify the resolutions or plans that I failed to achieve and I’m then facing another year to repeat the process all over again!
In fact, I now promise not to make any new year’s resolutions – that remains my only resolution – not to make any! But I acknowledge that it can be cathartic to look back at the last year and its memories and look forward to the new year and make plans for the future.
Of course, 2020 has been a year unlike any other seen in our lifetime. I suspect many folks have an urge to see the back of 2020, which has been a truly terrible year in so many respects. Good riddance to it, we may say – the sooner we see the end of it, the better. It’s been a year in which many have endured so much and sadly a year that some have not survived.
However, maybe we shouldn’t go dismissing 2020 out of hand – I’m sure that as well as all the dreadful news, there have been joys. Some have welcomed new babies into the world; some have got married and embarked on a life full of hope with their partners; some have managed to land that new job, start that new business that they’d always thought about or even embarked on retirement plans.
Indeed, as a result of lockdown, many of us have found ourselves with a lot of spare time on our hands (such that we’ve never known before). This could have given us time for contemplation about all aspects of our lives, which may have led to us making changes. It could have also given us the opportunity to find a new hobby or past time – finally, we have the time to learn that instrument; write that book, take that training course, or embark on that exercise regime we have been promising to do for years. Above all, we have simply had time to pause and take stock.
One thing for me that has come out of the year is a sense of community – many people have pulled together, helped one another and supported each other – this has brought us all closer together and enabled us to get to know neighbours that perhaps we were only on waving terms with before.
Another positive is the spotlight that has been shone on our heroic key workers – many of whom are made up of the humblest professions and pay grades – they have truly shown that they form the bedrock of our society and that we depend so much on them. For so long, overlooked, passed by, not given a second thought, undervalued – suddenly it hit us that these people should be celebrated from the rooftops – respected, admired and above all rewarded for the invaluable work they do. Remember, this isn’t just the obvious ones, like health workers, care and support workers, nurses and doctors; it’s also the shop workers, delivery workers, transport workers, utility workers – the list goes on. 2020 owes an unfathomable debt to all these people, who demonstrate the very best of humanity and we have seen this played out each and every day.
More cause for celebration is the environmental benefits that the year has brought. For the first time, the sea cleared in Venice and fish could be seen in the canals! The major decrease in travel and industrial activities lead to a significant reduction in emissions, finally giving our poor planet a breathing space and hopefully giving us the opportunity to change the way we live our lives to reduce our impact on the natural world.
Indeed, 2020 has given many the chance to try other ways of life – working remotely and working from home have been focused upon and led to employees finding that they actually preferred it, because it afforded them an improvement to their quality of work / life balance, as well as giving a boost on emissions reductions; decreases in traffic jams and the wasted time spent on the daily grind of commuting.
Whilst all the public health measures have been a chore, they have also benefitted us by giving us an improvement on hygiene standards, both in our own environments and public ones. It’s prompted us to consider how disease can be spread and shown some precautions that can help reduce that – something to help with a whole host of illnesses eg flu, norovirus, colds etc.
Although finances have been severely tested in 2020, it has also given us the chance to save our pennies, as we’ve been locked down and unable to take part in the usual leisure pursuits, we’ve reduced our normal spending outlay, helping the stressed bank balances and maybe we’ve found that we don’t actually need to spend so much on certain things as we thought we did.
Undeniably, 2020 has been a year of hardship, suffering and pain. It’s brought us sadness, disbelief, despair and sorrow. That said, it has also contained some brighter elements – it has given us community spirit, endurance, bravery, self-sacrifice, determination and hope.
Let’s acknowledge the anguish of 2020, let’s never forget it and let’s learn from it; but above all, let’s treasure all the positives that we’ve also found and let’s carry those with us as a beacon of hope into 2021 and beyond.
Happy New Year!