Lessons for 2021.

Clarice Bajkowski
5 min readJan 1, 2021

Here are a few good tips I’ll be taking into the new year.

2020. It’s a year we won’t forget, but one we’re all happy to bid adieu. It was rife with challenges, struggles, and so many revelations about ourselves as a nation. Chances are, last year, like many of you, I was watching the ball drop and welcoming the new year from our couch (parent life). I was looking forward to 2020 and the goals I’d set for myself and my family.

Despite dealing with the flu at the top of the year, the first few months of 2020 seemed to be on track. We had absolutely no idea what was coming for us in March. No one did. It doesn’t matter where you were or what you were doing — the Covid-19 pandemic changed life as we knew it. Plans changed. Events were canceled. Before we knew it, we all ended up in lockdown.

The death of George Floyd reignited a movement my parents and grandparents hoped they were done fighting for. The fight for civil rights and contentious elections only complicated an already uncertain time we all had no idea to face.

During the course of this year, with all that has unfolded inside and outside our homes and relationships, there are some valuable lessons I’ll be taking with me into 2021:

01 / Reaching out goes a long way.
Call your friends. Send a text just to check-in to see how they’re doing. This year left us missing out on graduations, baby showers, weddings and other important get together with our family and friends. It was easy to take for granted how valuable these moments are until we couldn’t have them. A simple ‘hello’ goes a long way to show folks you’re thinking about them.

02 / Coping is not a competition.
It’s okay not to feel okay. There’s no glory in pretending you’re fine when you’re not. Acknowledging where we are and dealing with our circumstances the best we can benefit us in the long-term. There are more people dealing with undue stress, anxiety, and uncertainty than you might think.

03 / Take time to honor your feelings.
Feelings of fear, sadness, and anger aren’t going to set you back. We are all dealing with a multitude of emotions. So, let go of what you thought was going to happen, what didn’t measure up and the pressure of having it all figured out. None of us do.

04 / Happiness is self-created.
We all need more than anyone can give us at this moment. It may be time to stop searching for things outside ourselves for happiness. Only you know what makes you the happiest.

05 / Mindfulness is a superpower.
We’re all on different journeys. How, when, and where our growth happens is unique to each one of us. There is no predetermined schedule for your arrival. All that matters is getting on the road to reach the destination. Learning to live in our failures, successes, challenges, and emotion is what helps us be mindful of where we are and where we want to be.

06 / Respond, don’t react.
Be assertive. Stand up for yourself and don’t let anyone’s assumptions of you dictate your narrative. You’re in charge of how you feel. Emotional intelligence is often taken for granted, but know it has the ability to transcend and transform.

07 / We are more resourceful than we think.
We can do more with less. Often times what we think is needed to get something done isn’t needed at all. Use what you have at your disposal and get shit done.

08 / Forgiveness is for you.
Forgiveness allows you to soar. Letting go of past wrongs and hurt gets us back on track to personal growth and happiness. Forgiveness is a funny thing. Once you truly forgive you won’t remember when it actually happened. The associated emotions disappear and you move on to better and BIGGER things.

09 / Difficult times reveal what you’re made of.
Shock. Denial. Loss. Grief. Anger. Resolve. Resilience. Hope. No matter where we started or where are right now, 2020 showed us what we are made of. We have what it takes to get past hardship. We were blessed with more time, learning new ways to cope, and how to help each other.

10 / Adaptability is the new black.
Always, always be ready to pivot. Just because we make plans doesn’t mean life won’t happen. It’s time to be a bit more flexible and if something doesn’t go according to plan it’s okay. Just keep it moving.

Here’s to a ringing in a new year — hopefully full of good times, more time with the people we love, and appreciate what we have before us.

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Clarice Bajkowski

Design leader with a passion for human-centered, inclusive storytelling that elevates underrepresented and underserved communities.