“The most challenging times bring us the most empowering lessons.”
– Karen Salmansohn
To say that 2020 was a challenging year, may just be an understatement. Many of us felt that our world was (and continues to be) shaken to its core.
More than ever, it was evident that we’re given only 2 choices – to sink or swim. Fortunately, I had chosen the latter.
It was far from a walk in the park, especially in the first few months of when the Covid-19 situation began to escalate across the globe. It took immense awareness and effort.
As I reflect back though, despite the challenges & hardships that came with this unprecedented year, I genuinely feel happier and healthier compared to when things were ‘normal’.
While I had been feeling this way for months now, it was not till recently that I openly share it with others. It felt wrong to express that I thrived during a year where suffering, fear, and pain were so rampant. I felt immensely guilty – and even ashamed to admit it.
But as the year draws to a close, I felt that it’s crucial for me to own up my feelings and express my gratitude for the silver linings and ‘blessings in disguise’ that 2020 had brought.
This enabled me to wrap up the year on a positive note and to warmly welcome the fresh & clean slate that’s just around the bend.
With that, I’m sharing the 5 decisions I’ve made this year that have enabled me to experience tremendous growth, both personally & professionally:
Look at Challenges as Opportunities for Growth
For as long as I’ve remembered, I’ve always known that the challenges we face present opportunities for growth.
Yet, we all know that to logically know something, doesn’t always mean that we truly understand it, and/or actually live by it.
Sometimes, however, certain situations ‘force’ us to do so. And for me, this year fits the bill.
As my full-time job is in the travel industry, you can imagine that things at work have been turbulent.
That said, I am blessed to be a part of a wonderful company where we are encouraged to look at challenges, not as things that’ll bring us down, but rather, as opportunities for us to become stronger (and better) than ever before.
And that’s exactly what we did. But as with anything worthwhile, it was definitely easier said than done.
The first few months were rocky – As if we were in a pitch-black room, constantly fumbling while trying to find the light switch.
There were some panic and tension but we hung on to the belief that if we work together and keep trying, sooner or later, we’ll find that switch and bring back the light.
Fast forward to the end of the year, while things are still nowhere near ‘normal’ business-wise, we’re able to wrap up the year with a positive and promising note.
More importantly, as a team and a company, we found ourselves stronger, closer, and more resilient than ever.
Read More: The Advantages of Challenges
Strengthen Existing Relationships & Meet New People (Virtually)
If ever there’s a good thing that came out of 2020, it’s probably that most of us, find ourselves with more time on our hands. And this is simply priceless.
Under ‘normal’ circumstances, we often find ourselves having too much to do and too little time.
As my social and travel calendar basically (almost) wiped clean, it made way for more time spent connecting with the people in my life – including those with who I’ve been out of touch.
Not only that, I was able to keep up a vibrant (virtual) social life and met even more new people during Covid.
While I despise ‘networking’ and limit my use of social media, as of late, I’ve embraced the use of Social+ (community/relationship-building) platforms such as LinkedIn (premium), Lunchclub, and Clubhouse to connect with like-minded & wonderful people from around the globe.
In fact, I’ve already planned to meet many of these awesome folks in real life once it’s (much) safer to travel and do so!
Read More: Moving Words of Wisdom on Friendships
Double Down on Healthy Habits
To this day, many medical & health professionals would agree that Covid-19 is a mysterious and dynamic virus. There’s still so much that we don’t know about it.
That said, one thing that we can control is to do our best to prevent ourselves from being infected. Other than always taking safety precautions when we’re in public (wear a mask, wash hands, etc.), one thing we can somewhat ‘control’ is the quality of our health.
So, early on, I decided that I needed to cut out habits that may prohibit me from being in my optimal health.
Since late March, I haven’t had a single drop of alcohol, cut down on coffee, (mostly) prepare my own meals, and consume fruits and vegetables like it’s my job.
Honestly, I haven’t eaten this many salads in my life (and I don’t particularly enjoy it) and I now even make my own bread!
Read More: Becoming Healthier & Fitter For Life
Work on Spirituality
If there’s anything that has kept me sane and (somewhat) calm despite all the ‘bad stuff’ that’s going on, it is my belief and connection to the higher power or something bigger than ourselves.
I consider myself both religious and spiritual. While spirituality is often affiliated with religion, it’s not necessarily true.
I’ve been a fan of meditation for over a decade now, and it’s one of my favorite ways to cultivate and maintain my spirituality.
This year, however, I decided that it’ll take more to continue to reap the benefits of the practice, so, I started increasing the time that I spend on meditation on a daily basis.
Coupled with yoga and other fun activities that enabled me to stay physically active like primal dance, I’ve found it to be a potent ‘formula’ in maintaining a balanced mind, body, and soul.
Read More: 5 Powerful Reasons to Meditate Daily
Express Gratitude & Pay It Forward
Gratitude has always been a big part of my life. This year, however, it definitely has been front and center.
This situation has made it clearer than ever that there’s much that we all take for granted.
Simple things such as being able to hug others or going out to eat at our favorite restaurants are no longer simple.
This year, I’ve consistently made effort to express gratitude for everything and everyone and to pay it forward whenever and wherever I can.
Haruki Murakami, a prolific author, so eloquently said “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm’s all about.”
While there are countless decisions & lessons that have helped me to use this difficult year as a catalyst for growth, the five that I’ve shared with you above are those that I’ve committed to keeping for life.
Through the ups & downs, I am genuinely grateful for this year as it helped me to step closer to becoming my best self.