Lessons we learned in 2020
By Kimberly Alton
A new year is here. As the old year exits, take a moment to take stock of the lessons we learned in 2020. While for many this past year was filled with a lot of anxiety and heartache, for some, it may have been a time of learning to appreciate the simpler things in life. Last year, I shared some lessons learned over the course of my career. I want to share those again but update them a bit for where we are at in life right now. Lesson Number One: Don’t Get Caught in the All or Nothing Trap If we learned nothing else this past year, we should have learned that there is no such thing as a foolproof plan. My mama used to talk about when they had no indoor plumbing and used Sears catalogs for toilet tissue. We did not have to get to that level this year but who would have thought toilet paper would be worth gold? Life is not without roadblocks and obstacles. When we look at our health as an all or nothing prospect, we can quickly get derailed. This past year threw plenty of roadblocks and obstacles our way. This year will likely start out no different but each day gives you another 24 hours of opportunity to pick yourself back up and try again. Successful people fail and they fail a lot. The difference is they keep trying after each setback. Lesson Number Two: Start Where You Are If you did not end this year with six-pack abs or buns of steel – guess what? It is okay! We live in a society of instant gratification. Again, I am pretty confident in saying that we learned that instant is not so instant anymore. You cannot go from point A to point Z while skipping the rest of the alphabet. Start where you are and move forward from that point. So, whether you need to improve your eating habits or become more physically active, take your current situation, and start to make small improvements. Over time these become big improvements and that is what leads to lasting impact. Lesson Number Three: Don’t Live Life Through A Social Media Filter Misinformation is the name of the game in the social media world. Be careful about how much stock you put into what you read and verify that what you are reading is coming from a reliable source. By the same token do not be misled by all the pictures of perfection. The truth is that while filters can be fun to play around with, but the ones that give you flawless skin or help reshape your body – those are dangerous. We do not all have unblemished skin and perfect bodies. Models are no exception – the miracle of cameras and lighting. Even worse is when you compare yourselves to your friends on social media, sometimes you come away feeling less than. STOP! Remember that sometimes smiling faces hide hurting hearts and beautiful can be broken too. You are your biggest competitor. The only one that you have to get better than is the you that was not healthy. So, stop the comparison and be you. Lesson Number Four: There Is Power in Positivity. We have definitely learned this lesson this past year. We all have struggles and battles but at the end of the day, we are still blessed. It is okay to have a bad day, bad week, bad month – just do not unpack your bags and live there. Having a positive mindset has a powerful impact on health outcomes. Nobody is asking you to become a Pollyanna, but your power lies in how you react to situations. If we spend a little more time thinking about the reasons we have to be grateful, we will find more to be grateful for – the blessings in the storm. Lesson Number Five: Everyone Needs a Tribe. Community – oh how we have missed you this past year! We all need community – your family, friends, coworkers – anyone that is a meaningful part of your life. These are the people we turn to in good times and bad times too. This past year we have had to learn how to continue to share experiences with our community even when we could not do it in person. If you did not find your way through Zoom calls or Facetimes, letter writing or emails, I challenge you to continue to find ways to connect. Every single one of us needs a tribe. Lesson Number Six: Don’t Overthink It! I think a lot of decisions were made this past year on the fly. We had to do a lot of pivoting to keep up with this rapidly changing world. For any of my fellow over-analyzers – this was tough! I think the big lesson here was make a decision, commit to an action – just do it. You will figure out what works and what does not work as you go along and in the end the Earth will not have come to an end because you did not research it thoroughly. We waste a lot of moments of our life standing at the edge of the water just dipping our toes in. Take the plunge! Life is short.