It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Had Charles Dickens been alive today he might have been writing about 2020. Given the human suffering generated by the pandemic in addition to the cornucopia of “normal” annual calamities, it would be very tempting to try to forget this last year as quickly as possible.

But to do so means we lose the chance to appreciate what we have learned over the course of the year. Here is what I learned.

Don’t try to time the (shopping) market

Just as it is true that attempting to purchase a company’s stock when it is soaring is a bad idea, the same is true when it comes to shopping for specific products. Emotions and expectations drive buying trends in very much the same manner as they do the direction of the stock market.

With personal protective equipment, baker’s yeast or exercise dumbbells, I found myself trying to purchase during a time of peak demand and ending up paying premium prices or just not finding what I was looking for. I am still wishing that I had bought an extra pack or two of Lysol disinfectant wipes when I had the chance.

On a positive note, I consider myself to be very lucky that we took the decision to adopt a puppy in the early summer just as the demand for pets was surging. Had we procrastinated, we might have still been waiting and would have missed out on the all the fun and frustration which comes with the arrival of a new member to the family.

Every change has a silver lining

I will admit that I was a holdout when it came to delivering live virtual courses. There is something about the personal human connection which is greater when teaching in person than can be achieved through the use of video conferencing technology. But when it became apparent that to resist transitioning meant I’d be idle for the remainder of the year, I committed to making this work.

We were fortunate to have picked a great platform in Miro, and through the process of migrating our courseware to it, I joined a thriving user community. I could never have anticipated that this experience would give me the opportunity to become a community moderator, get some short moonlighting gigs helping others with their virtual board design work and contribute to the evolution of the platform.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, so carpe diem

In the late Spring, with my forecast of work for the remainder of the year at a much lower level than normal, I felt sure I’d be able to knock off quite a few personal projects. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s Law applies to low value activities as much as it does to meaningful work. Having that many more free days meant I had that much more time to COVID-19 doom scroll, watching one news show after another about the pandemic and, of course, Netflix binging.

I spent more time on personal development and delivered more presentations than I had in previous years but I could have done more. When December arrived and I was left with just a couple of weeks, I finally developed the true sense of urgency I needed to start the publishing process for my first book. I guess I can say better late than never!

So what will you take away from the past year?

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