I'm sitting down to reflect on my year and, I have to admit something to you, dear reader. In 2020, a year when we faced a deadly pandemic, murdering police and calls for social justice, an atypical election cycle with attacks on our democracy, and business-not-as-usual, I, a self-proclaimed over-achiever, took on too much. In summary, last year I committed and completed the following: writing a daily poem and posting it here, my first year of classes towards my MBA, practicing and teaching yoga (in-person at first, online you-know-when), being an engaged contributor at my full-time day job, meeting my consulting clients' needs, and being a loving spouse who shares the workload.
Here's my caveat: even knowing it was a tough year, and hindsight being 20/20 and all, I still don't think I would go back and take anything off my plate. Wild. Right? So, with that personal clarity, I wanted to share with you the top insights I gained from taking on too much in 2020.
Image credit: Franz Bachinger on pixabay
• I control what occupies my mind
Despite the overwhelming amount of options my attention span is inundated with, in the end, I get to decide what information, entertainment, distraction, etc., consumes my mind. If you've been following me for a while, you probably saw that I paused my own reading of books for leisure for the first half of 2020. My intent was to pause for the entire year and over summer break, my will weakened and after that, I reasoned with myself that I could balance the urge to read with the rest of my commitments, which I did - sort of. I also stopped thinking as much though. I let the books become what I wanted them to be, a distraction, and it was fine because it was what I needed. At the same time, I haven't read any leisure books so far in 2021 and already I see my thought patterns changing. I also notice a correlation between novel reading and social media. When one goes up, the other goes down. I'm most heartened by my awareness. Because I am aware of what wants to pull my attention and what happens when I follow those different paths, I can better decide how I want my mind occupied.
• Having purposeful downtime is not wasteful.
I could have called this one 4b because it's definitely related. Since I control how my mind is occupied, I'm also in charge of whether I'm being "recharged" or just "draining the battery". If I choose downtime that makes me go braindead or forget that there is life "out there", then I'm not actually refueling. Choosing downtime that helped me feel refreshed and energized, such as a walk and a phone call, or making art, made a big difference on whether I had the energy and enthusiasm for school after work. Sitting down and reading a book made me want to stay sitting and stay reading. The new year gave me a good chance to "reset" and I'm finding my way forward on this one again.
• It's humane to be human
Being human must come first or I can't be anything. When I pay attention to my physiological needs and responses I am better able to concentrate on the tasks I decide to get done. This insight was taught at the school of hard knocks of 40 hour work-from-home workweek followed by evening school work. I could no longer rely on my walk to and from the bus station to stretch my legs. I could not count on having every weeknight for hikes or biking. I needed to be intentional in how I moved, sat, and slept. Yoga was a big help and when I practice more than 3 times a week, I can get away with more inactivity during the work day. The fewer the yoga sessions though, I better be moving on my 15s and lunch! Setting a routine helped and getting outside. I feel so much more human when I can feel the wind on my face at least once a day.
Thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me this long on my 2020 reflection, for tolerating my mildly obnoxious humble-brag as I worked through those insights. I hope they help you and me in navigating what is coming our way for 2021.
Creative enthusiast, gregarious naturalist, opinionated humanist, MBA, RYT 200. Amy Kay Czechowicz completed a poetry challenge for 2018 and 2020 by posting an original poem daily to this blog. She's started a Patreon for 2023 where you can find her more recent work!