How to review 2020: a year when little went to plan

This has been the strangest year. All the more reason to review it.

This has been a year like no other.

We all probably want to put it behind us as soon as possible, but because of that, it’s still worth taking some time to reflect on it. I do this every year, and always find it useful. But this time my process was a little different. So here’s how to review 2020.

Go through your calendar for the year.

It probably won’t be as full as previous years! But nonetheless, make a note of everything you’ve achieved, everything you’re proud of, everything you’ve learned.

Be especially kind, this year.

Acknowledge the small victories, and let go of what could have been, without a global pandemic.

We’ve all found resilience we didn’t know we had. Getting through it is an achievement in itself. Shopping for that elderly neighbour, or checking in on friend who were isolated is an achievement. And anyone home-schooling children while also suddenly trying to do their job from home deserves a medal!

As for all the health workers, the teachers, the key workers who kept the deliveries coming, shops stocked and open, public transport working: we might have stopped clapping, but we still owe you heart-felt thanks.

It’s also a year when the tragic murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement led to welcome reflection and learning for many of us.

More generally, mwwny of us had more time to think, to discover what lights us up, and get back in touch with what’s important to us. As well as appreciate those everyday pleasures that we tended to take for granted — until they were no longer available to us.

Some questions to consider:

  • What have you learned?
  • What skills have you gained, or improved?
  • Have you made new friendships, valuable new contacts, closer community ties?
  • How have you contributed?
  • What did you miss most in lockdown?
  • And what did you enjoy?
  • What will you keep, as life returns to something like normal?
  • Have your priorities shifted? What’s important to you now?
  • What could you have done better?
  • Is there anything you’d like to work on/improve?
  • What’s holding you back most?
  • What are you tolerating?
  • Are there other changes you want to make?
  • What do you want more of in 2021?
  • And what do you want less of?

Now do an audit.

The Pareto principle is the notion that around 20% of our efforts tend to yield something like 80% of our results.

So what were the high-impact activities of 2020? What got the best results for you? And what will you do more of, next year?

Think about all areas of your life:

  • Work
  • Money
  • Relationship
  • Fun
  • Friends and family
  • Creativity
  • Health & fitness
  • Happiness
  • Personal growth

Also look at where the remaining 80% of your time, energy and effort are being expended without delivering the best results.

What could you get rid of entirely, or cut back on? What sucks your time, energy and focus without giving great returns?

Again, a few examples:

One of my minor victories this year, for instance, was getting all my accounts done in April, when we were in lockdown with little to do. And then creating a system to update my figures twice a month — so that next year’s accounts will be ready in April, too. No more all-nighters the following January, and avoiding my accountant’s emails!

Another activity I’ll keep is the daily walks that helped keep me sane in 2020. They definitely offered a high return for the time invested, increasing my fitness, and lowering my stress levels. I’ve explored my local area like never before, had lots of useful insights and ideas on walks, and our longer Sunday outings have become a great time to check in with my husband, to make plans and discuss minor niggles.

How to refocus for 2021

In next week’s post, I’ll talk about how to plan your year with kindness. No more big new year’s resolutions that you’ll break before the end of January. Instead, it’s all about making small changes, month by month, that add up to much bigger shifts, over time.

Sheryl Garratt is a writer and a coach helping creatives to get the success they want, making work they love. Click to sign up for my free 10-day course, Freelance Foundations: the secrets of successful creatives

Writer; editor; coach, supporting creatives to step up and do their best work — and get paid for it! Find me at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store