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5 Lessons to learn from 2020

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, but some have felt the impact more than others. We’re all facing the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat. While many are struggling and understandably want to forget all about 2020, to write it off completely would be a waste. Here are 5 lessons to learn from 2020 that I’ll be taking forward with me.

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, but some have felt the impact more than others. We’re all facing the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat. While many are struggling and understandably want to forget all about 2020, to write it off completely would be a waste. Here are 5 lessons to learn from 2020 that I’ll be taking forward with me.

These are all based on personal experiences so may not work for you, but hopefully they’ll offer some inspiration.

Like most people, I’ve had a bit of a rollercoaster year. Bad things have happened but so have lots of good things. Too often it’s easy to focus on the negatives, but there are positives and they shouldn’t be ignored. I hope these 5 lessons to learn from 2020 help you.

Smiling through a difficult year

In this post I will cover these 5 lessons to learn from 2020:

  1. Backing yourself
  2. Building relationships and letting go
  3. Be prepared
  4. Giving back
  5. Doing what makes you happy

Back yourself

In a difficult year, or any year for that matter, you need to be your biggest cheerleader.

I’ve often shied away from putting myself out there or applying for higher-level roles. But, when Covid-19 hit, I thought ‘what am I waiting for?’

The first step was starting this blog. I always said I wanted to write about personal finance and there was no reason to keep putting it off. After around six months of hard, but rewarding, work, this led to my first paid personal finance writing gig!

Now, alongside my day job in journalism, I’ll be writing weekly articles for Money Magpie. I filed my first two last week and will send off my first invoice later this week. None of this would have happened if I didn’t back myself to apply for the role.

I’ve also applied this attitude to other aspects of my life. Running is a big passion of mine, but I’ve always had mental blocks with it. This year, I decided to start thinking of myself as a ‘good runner’. The attitude shift has led to more miles than ever before and a heap of personal bests.

Build relationships but know when to let go

The year started with the end of a three and a half year relationship for me. At the time it was all consuming and felt like the worse thing that could possibly happen. Now, it’s just a blip in a bumpy year. In hindsight, knowing when to let go would have saved a lot of wasted time and energy.

Cutting people out of your life who don’t support you or cause more negativity than they do positivity is an important skill to have. This applies to friendships, relationships and even colleagues – although the latter can be harder to manage.

The opposite is also true. Value those that support you and make you feel good and reciprocate this. Having strong friendships and relationships is key to success. You don’t achieve great things without some support along the way.

I’ve also learnt to be proactive with this. Don’t wait for others to contact you. Everyone is busy, so if someone doesn’t make the effort it’s likely nothing will happen.

Some of the people who have been most important to me this year I didn’t know this time last year. Stay open to possibilities and reach out to new people – you never know who you might meet or where it could lead you.

I’ve also made some wonderful blogging friends this year. I never thought I’d have friends I’d never met, but 2020 is full of surprises! I’m very glad I do too. The community is so supportive and full of people with a range of views, ideas and skills – there’s always something to learn!

Professional relationships are also key. The current job market means any connections you do have could prove invaluable. Reach out to people, be helpful to others and take opportunities as they are offered to you.

Be prepared

No one could have predicted a global pandemic and there won’t be one every year, so don’t worry about preparing for things that happened this year.

But – I found I could have been more prepared than I was in most aspects of my life.

In terms of finances, the best way to be prepared is to have savings. An emergency fund is a lifeline if you suddenly find yourself out of work.

Clearing debts and keeping up to date with your bill payments is also helpful. This means if you do find yourself struggling, you don’t have to worry about existing payments, which takes away an extra layer of stress.

Give back

As humans we’re conditioned to be selfish. Decisions that make the most sense for us as individuals often don’t help society as a whole. For example, saving or investing as much of your income as possible is a great decision for a lot of individuals. But, if everyone did that, the whole economy would collapse.

This year I’ve learnt to compromise with myself. I like to save as much as possible, but want to support my local community. So, I try to support local businesses that pay tax, employ people and align with my values. This way I know the money I do spend is going to causes I care about and should benefit my community.

There are more obvious ways of giving back as well. One of my favourite tasks this year was the Foodbank Advent challenge. Seeing the increase in poverty this year both shocked and saddened me. Donating to a Foodbank won’t solve these issues and is a very small gesture in the scheme of things, but seeing so many people get involved and caring about the wellbeing of others gave me a much more positive outlook.

It’s a cliché but it’s true – helping others does make you feel better too.

The lovely pup in question

Do what makes you happy

Want a dog? Get a dog. Ok you shouldn’t make decisions quite that likely, particularly not when a living being is concerned. But, not all decisions need to be based on your financial future or what makes the most ‘sense’ on paper.

A lot of people thought I was mad when I got my puppy. ‘What about your career?’ ‘Wait until you’re older,’ were common responses. Of course, I’d already considered these options, but thinking too hard about it could have put me off.

Getting Fitz was one of the best decisions I’ve made. He’s brought so much joy into my life and cheered me up whenever Covid-19 has got me down. Life may be more chaotic and a lot messier, but it’s certainly happier.

Doing what makes you happy doesn’t just refer to major life decisions. It can be as simple as picking up a coffee on the way to work or buying your favourite chocolate bar. Yes, these may not give you the long term gains of investments and savings, but what’s life without joy?

I’d just like to take a moment to say thank you for all your support this year. Starting this blog has been one of the best decisions I’ve made but it wouldn’t have happened without all of you. Thank you for reading. I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

So there you have it, 5 lessons to learn from 2020. If you found this post interesting, please like it and share across social media or send it to your friends. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so please leave a comment! What are you taking with you into 2021? Do you think you there are lessons to learn from 2020?

Don’t forget to follow me @Katie20Percent on social media to make sure you don’t miss any of my posts!

By The Twenty Percent

Hi I'm Katie and I use my blog to help young people take control of their personal finances.

3 replies on “5 Lessons to learn from 2020”

Congrats on your new position, that’s so exciting! I started my blog over 5 years ago but have only taken it upon myself to create a regular schedule for my writing and posting. It’s been going well so that’s one of the things I’ll be focused on in 2021. Excited to see future posts!

What a lovely message to look back on during this horrible year. You know I’ve said it before but you do some incredible things, and this post just proves it; lots of people would have shut themselves down after an end to such a long term relationship and you know, a global pandemic and all, but you chose to come out of it the other side and make this year about you as much as possible! You should be very proud of yourself and well done 🙂 here’s to an even more successful 2021!

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