As we’re rounding the bend and ending out 2020, you might be breathing a sigh of relief. Elections, issues of inequality, a pandemic, financial instability, working from home for many of us, and virtual learning for our kids – any one of those on their own could have made this a challenging year. Instead, the stars aligned, and we got them all at once. It’s overwhelmed us, tried to undermine our strength, and tested our resilience. Words like endurance, perseverance, and determination mean something more coming out of 2020. 

Fortunately, pressure creates diamonds. In the middle of this, we all grew stronger. We found the power to stretch ourselves further, to do things we thought were impossible, and to thrive in the uncomfortable moments. There are so many valuable lessons woven into every experience we had in 2020, and the greatest miss of the year would be to step past those things we learned in our hurry toward 2021.

I’m not going to let us rush forward without grabbing those lessons to bring with us. 

Here’s my perspective on the transition we’re about to make into 2021. Some of you will set New Year’s resolutions, and others are going to set goals for 2021. To be clear, they’re two different things. Our resolutions are most often vague, abstract, squishy – and they’re most often broken and lost by the time February first arrives. Goals, on the other hand, are much more strategic. They’re specific and clear, there’s a plan for achieving them, accountabilities are intertwined, and they’re aligned to our purpose and core values. 

I’m going to talk more about goals and my own goal setting process in my next blog. I’ll be helping you envision your coming year, and will be sharing my personal goal setting tools. First, though, we need to spend some time looking back on the year we’ve just experienced. We need to grab onto those 2020 lessons before they get lost…

To do this, I created My 2020 Snapshot tool, that you can download here for free:


This is a tool I first developed last year, as we were approaching 2020, to help set the stage for my own new year’s goal setting. Many of you used it then and I heard some great feedback. When I reopened the Snapshot tool this year, I saw a few things I wanted to alter based on what we’ve witnessed in 2020. Even the way we reflect on the past year required a 2020-pivot. I started by adding two new questions toward the very beginning of the 2020 Snapshot to help us start the review. This year, we’ll ask, “Where did I experience wins in 2020?” and “Where did I experience losses in 2020?”

I’ll be honest… As I started answering those questions myself, many emotions came with my replies. Thinking about our wins in a year like this can (and should) create a rush of gratitude. Talking about what we lost can be heavy. There are things we’re still mourning. The year you’ve experienced may naturally tilt you one way or another, and that’s okay. Remember, we’ve all experienced 2020 in our own way, on our terms. As much as this year has been a shared experience, we haven’t shared everything. We’ve all lived through our own peaks and valleys, and we’ve learned unique lessons. 

Those lessons are the real wealth that will come from this past year – and they’re what I want to help you capture through this 2020 Snapshot. Specifically, I want each of us to answer this question, “What lessons did I learn as I walked through 2020?” We need to seek those lessons, find them, and name them. We need to make sure those lessons don’t get left behind as we look forward to something new. They represent our wins and failures, the things we’ve learned, and the scars we’ve picked up along the way. These lessons, the easy ones and the painful ones, will make us more prepared and stronger as we move into a new year… and the year after that… and the one beyond that. 

These lessons deserve trophies to go along with them – the kind of trophies we got when we were kids – to commemorate what we’ve learned and achieved. Adults don’t get many trophies, but we should. We should all get trophies for how we showed up in 2020. The “I didn’t give up” trophy, the “I was there for someone else” trophy, and the “We walked through this together” team trophy. Gold, polished, and shiny… we need a way to recall where we’ve been, all that we’ve accomplished, the challenges we’ve survived, and the lessons we’ve learned together.

The Takeaway

There will be more lessons to learn in 2021. That’s something we can all be sure of. Between then and now, as we’re preparing for the new year to come, take some time to reflect on this passing year. Download the My 2020 Snapshot tool, spend some time with it, and end this year strong. Take something valuable with you from 2020 so it can’t say it was the year that robbed us of our joy, resilience, and positivity.


Follow me here for my next blog, where I introduce my 2021 goal setting tools. I’m going to share the process I use for setting my own goals (not resolutions) and I’ll help make the process simple and easy for all of us. The new year is just around the corner – let’s walk into it prepared so we can live boldly!

– John