This is part 2 of a 3-part mini-series on how to transition happily into the new year. In part 1, I shared an exercise that bubbles up your strategic priorities. In part 3, I’ll show you how to sustain effort throughout 2021 without burnout.

When you’re framing 2021 as your big opportunity to ‘make up for 2020’, there is a sneaky underlying assumption that I want you to poke around in today. That assumption is that you’ve just wasted a year, and that’ll be seriously cranking up the pressure on your 2021 future-self.

Let’s pan for some gold: 🌟

During the full pandemic lockdown in April 2020, there was so little traffic and plane noise, the birds singing outside my house were the loudest thing. Homeschooling meant I was hanging out with my 4 children, actually seeing them interact with their teachers and school work. I finally made some of the recipes in books that have been post-it-noted for years. Not to mention the decluttering, day-dreaming, dog-petting… 🐶

Mr Deana said to me one night, we’ve been acting like boiled frogs. You’ve heard the myth: a frog in a pan of water on a stove doesn’t jump out as the water heats up, but instead slowly poaches to death as the heat rises. (In reality, frogs do leap out, but it’s a great analogy so don’t jump out of the story yet.) 🐸

I know for many people, lockdown wasn’t a period of calm reflection. But for my family, it was like the heat was turned off under our pan and suddenly we noticed that we were half-boiled. We would never have had that clarity on our choices and priorities without lockdown. 

I hear this from my clients too: they are now very clear on the business that they want to run, on the changes they want to make in their work, on the value of the people around them. Their pans stopped boiling and they found more clarity too.

This week (December 2020) for the first time since March, I was onsite with clients in Covid-safe conditions. I absolutely loved the travel, the conversation, the work. I hadn’t noticed, but the water in my froggy pan had become too cold lately. ❄️

You’re probably ready for the warmth, energy and excitement of getting back into it again, and you’re looking ahead to 2021 to provide it. But how to do this without leading ourselves into hotter, deeper water to make up for missed time? Froggy-you needs the right temperature to thrive.

I’m going to go out on a frog’s leg and say you have learnt more about yourself this year than ever before but you’ll probably need to do a bit of investigation to integrate it. 🎁

Looking back on any year can be an uncomfortable experience and reflecting on this year will definitely feel more loaded. It’s tempting to avoid it and say well, that wasn’t even a proper year – what’s the point in reviewing it? If this is you (or if you don’t usually look back at your year at all) know that this is a once-in-a-lifetime corona-coaster opportunity for you to find out what makes you most effective. No more being too cold, or being boiled alive.

I’ve written a 2020 Special Edition set of year-end reflection questions, pasted below. They’re my usual year-end process with added Extra 2020 Learning Value ™️ .

I invite you to work through them and uncover how 2020 served you as much as disappointed you. You’ll learn more about the right temperature for you, and be on the way to building yourself a happy frog habitat.  🐸

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🎈 Fast Flow | Year-End Reflection: 2020 Special Edition 🎈

Use these reflection questions to identify what’s most important to you about next year, using your once-in-a-lifetime 2020 perspective. This will take about 10-100 minutes to complete, depending on the level of detail you want to go into.

Thinking back to early 2020

  • What did you think the year was going to be all about?
  • At what point did you realise things were going to be really different compared to your expectations?
  • What advice would you give your January 2020 self, if you could?
  • Looking back at your January 2020 hopes and dreams, what do you want to do with those now?

Lockdown

  • What was the major impact on you of lockdown?
  • What was hardest about lockdown?
  • What was easier in lockdown?
  • What was fun about lockdown?
  • What did lockdown give you that you don’t normally have?
  • What did you learn about yourself in lockdown?

Whole of 2020

  • What was the low point?
  • What helped you to bounce back from that?
  • What was your biggest triumph?
  • What led to that triumph?
  • What was the best decision you made? Why?
  • Which 3 people had the biggest positive impact on your work life?
  • Which 3 people had the biggest positive impact on your home life?

Next Year

  • What do you want to carry forward from 2020?
  • What do you want to be your big triumph next year?
  • Who do you want to spend more time with next year?
  • What do you want to have learned by the end of 2021?
  • What else do you need to do to be complete with 2020?
  • What else do you need to do to be ready for 2021?

Protip! It’s fun to take your notes on your year-end reflections and file them somewhere you’ll find them again in December 2021 (e.g. in your forward file, or attach them to an email and “delay send” until 1st December 2021).

As always, if you’d like to share your answers with someone, please send them across to me! 😊