An inventory of 2020. What features to leave and what to keep for 2021?

Guess what was my theme for 2020?
It was “Socialize more”. The idea was to go more to places and events, to get to know and meet with people (in real life), and invite people over more often. To be more out there.

Well, we all know how it went with this plan this year but I have to say there was some success in socializing too. Not only did I get to hang out with my family more but I met also with friends on walks and video talks, some even more than I would normally do. There were also classes and discussions participated and held online, and of course the whole wonderland of social media to connect with people worldwide.

The year of social distancing.

This year has been a great example about managing expectations. How one can have all kinds of expectations and plans but still can’t know for sure how they turn out.

Some people advise to always keep your expectations high and have crystal clear goals whereas others are saying quite the opposite. I guess the real question is, what attitude works best for you and how well you bounce back and pivot after sudden, unpredictable changes.

“It’s your own expectations that hurt you. Not the world you live in. Whatever happens in the world is real. What you think should happen is unreal. So people are hurt by their expectations. You know, you’re not disappointed by the world, you are disappointed by your own projections.”

– Jacque Fresco

To leave: judgment, know-it-allness and excessive fear

Besides the suffering caused by the pandemic, 2020 came sadly with some malicious criticism and ‘besserwisserism’. Instead of seeing 99 of 100 persons wearing a mask, some saw that one person without one, and instead of making choices for themselves by the best of their knowledge, many thought they knew exactly what others should do. People also kept things to themselves because they were afraid of the negative reactions of others. I’m sure there were moments when I also fell into these traps too and behaved like an expert which I’m not.

Another phenomenon I wish to be left behind is the purposeless fear. A certain amount of fear is beneficial, keeping us focused and careful to be safe and to protect others but when the fear paralyzes us from doing useful things and causes nonconstructive stress and sleep-deprivation, there is too much of it. John Lennon has said well that ”when we are afraid, we pull back from life“, and Steve Maraboli that “when we are judging everything, we are learning nothing.”. I hope that in 2021, there will be less excessive fear and judgment and more empathy and courage (could there be vaccinations for these too?).

For many, 2020 has offered opportunities to notice the wonders of nature.

To keep: taking care of others and appreciating what we already have

Luckily the year 2020 has also been about looking after each other and noticing what we already have. To cherish the people in our lives and also the so called little things – like how nice it is to have a cup of coffee, to be able to swim in a lake, or to see the kids happily running back to school when it was possible again.

Also, do you know what is the coolest dance in the world? Abundance. “The situation in which there is more than enough of something”*. If we are always running after some new goal, shinier object, better self or situation, without really stopping to see and enjoy what we already have – we are missing out so much. Maybe there indeed is a reason why we are called human beings and not human doings or human achievers. The abundance, when we see how much there is to be grateful for instead of what is lacking (and there will always be something lacking), is a good place to come from.

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”
-Anthony Robbins

I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who is a bit hesitant about making any resolutions or themes for 2021 but at least I will continue practicing gratitude and enoughness. One concrete way for this is to list the things you want (or have wanted) and which you already have. So instead of listing the things you don’t have yet, you make a list of things what you want and what is already there for you now. Another good practice is to write down good things happened each day.

We can’t have big get-together parties now but luckily there are other ways to celebrate new year. May the year 2021 come with health and habits of happiness!

*definition by Cambridge dictionary

If you want to have a memory of these times we are living, here are some ideas:


Helena Jalanka is a visual storyteller and creative designer originally from Finland. She has also lived in Australia, Singapore and Switzerland together with her husband and two children. Helena has a MA in New Media Arts and Design, plus studies of social psychology – one of her many interests.

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