2020: The Longest Year In Review

Every year, in January, I set goals for the year. You probably to do too. But this year was, well, different and for most of us, it started going off the rails in early March. With markets crashing, economies shutting down, schools closing, and everyone transitioning to working-from-home, it was — to say the least — a restart on the year. It didn’t help when January just brought more chaos and seemed like one long continuation of 2020. (As far as I’m concerned, 2020 ended in February.) So, perhaps it’s only fitting that I sum up my year now, as it finally feels like things are winding down. Vaccines are rolling out and the pandemic seems to be easing — for now. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m reasonably hopeful it’s no an oncoming train.

Every year, in that magical week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I take a moment. It’s a great chance to clear my mind, and come up with a word that will inspire me for the year. Words like “Ignite”, “Momentum”, or “Confidence” have been words of years past. So, it was surprising to me in January 2020 when the first words that came into my mind were “I’m doing the best I can.” Wow. That was unexpected. It wasn’t the message I would have thought the universe was sending me, but trusting the process, I wrote it down. “I’m doing the best I can.” I riffed with it — patience, perseverance, keep going.

In January, we traveled to Burgundy for Saint Vincent Tournante, reading the news from Wuhan and not realizing this would be the last trip of the year. On a rainy Paris day in January, we walked down to see the work on Notre Dame. Cranes were in motion moving beams and scaffolding. Talk about resilience. It was heartbreaking to see the grand lady in that condition, but heartening to see workers rebuilding — just as they’ve done throughout the centuries.

However, by the the time we got home, it was clear Europe was in trouble. The NY Times podcast The Daily featured firsthand accounts from journalists in China in lock downs and quarantines. Then they evacuated. It hit Italy next, then the rest of Europe, and Covid was here. By late February, I was in board meetings for organizations cancelling national events, rethinking in person dinners and fundraisers, and ensuring the pantry was stocked. Schools and restaurants closed. Mayors and governors scheduled lock downs. And Covid hit hard. It was no surprise as we all went through various stages of worry and grief and disconnection, unbidden, my mantra came to me: “I’m doing the best I can.”

Sometimes, the universe tells us something we don’t think — at the time — that we need to hear. But there were many many days that I was grateful for the reminder: “You’re doing the best you can.” It was permission and relief. It was a call to regroup, wipe away tears, and make another cocktail. It was the best phrase I could have had for 2020 — the year of frustration and worry and celebrating small triumphs.

The good news? We made it through! (I have my first dose of vaccine on board!) As I looked at my yearly goals, I found that I made my targets most of the time and did it enjoying some forced time at home. This year, I set my goals in January, like usual, making some guesses about a few. Not-for-profit fundraisers on schedule? I think so. A trip to Paris and Bordeaux in September? Maybe! Our annual trip to Burgundy in November? We hope so. In the meantime, the publishing business continues to roar along — and I control what I can control.

Even if you missed your annual goal setting session in January, the first quarter is a great time to prep for the new year. The weather is better, our windows are open, hope is back! Time to shake off the lock downs and return to buying the normal amount of groceries and toilet paper. Change out all of your baking soda and baking powder. (Baking powder expires and become inactive!) Check all of the links on your website and correct broken ones.  Start new planning journals. Take an opportunity to track your numbers on social media. How many followers do you have on Instagram or Twitter? What is your percentage gain or loss? And reflect on what work habits you want to keep once you go back into the office. Most important, remember that if we learned anything from 2020, it was to give ourselves a break — and focus on what matters

  • Read 20 additional books. I cut out podcasts and added audiobooks and it made a huge difference. Loved achieving this goal and knocked off my big summer read.
  • Started studying Bordeaux. It’s been a weak spot in my wine knowledge. Targeted and logged 20 hours in study and learning.
  • Hit my work targets with new clients, new projects and added two new writing outlets — in wine and food!
  • Wrote 200 cards, letters and notes in 2020 — making my #200in2020 target! I loved getting notes back!
  • Finished a large needlepoint piece. Sounds trivial, but there is much to be said for creating an entire tapestry from a woven structure with wool. Took 11 months. (The Peacock in needlepoint for a firescreen based on a William Morris design.)
  • Blew past my target number for IG and finished 2020 with 687 followers.

I had a few more goals related to my leadership work on board and committees in the not-for-profit world. Some personal goals related to keeping relationships and connections alive, and some unexpected wins. I learned to connect with friends in new ways like foraging and creating a small pod. It’s important to make sure you note of new habits you loved. Recognize your best experiences of year no matter how large or small.

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