Over the past few weeks, I've noticed a trend with the same wish that many are wishing for this year. Maybe it's the holiday season, but I have a feeling that this wish is going to be on a lot of lists as they send their letters to Santa. If you've watched TV, YouTube, heard a radio station (I think they still have those) listened to a podcast, or you've wished this wish many times over this year, then you know what that wish is.
I WISH 2020 WAS OVER
Do you feel that way?
Wish that 2020 fled like a squirrel who just realized they left the kitchen stove on? If I finished here, you would turn your device off and continue drinking your coffee saying "That Juan sure does get it. He understands." But if you've read any of my other material, then you may know there's some insight coming.
I'm the kind of guy that likes to see the silver lining. Not in a "only sees the world through rose colored glasses" sort of way, but more of a "not going to let anything stop me from feeling great at any moment" kind of way. I love learning, I love the lessons life teaches me and I love to think outside the box, especially when so many are telling you to think inside the box. That said, let me drop some insight.
Since COVID hit back in March, like many, our businesses were hit, our lives disrupted and uncertainty barged in the front door of my mind, forcing me to ask one simple question...
WTF! (wait, that's not a question)
What Now? (there it is)
Since then, there's more to this pandemic than running around like a turkey with your head cut off (🦃 fitting). If you gave yourself time to sit back and meditate, you'd be able to see the deeper meaning behind it all and the lessons that come with it. That said, here are just a few of the lessons I learned in 2020 that I'd like to share with you, if you please.
LESSON #1: SLOW DOWN
The biggest lesson I learned in 2020 was the very concept that goes against who I am as a person. Slowing down is not in my vocabulary, so when 2020 demanded I take time to stop, I had no choice but to listen. Imagine the ability to stop, take a breath and enjoy the moment you are in. It does wonders for the person that feels burnt out or overwhelmed. For me it helped me think clearer and become more focused on things that were important (which I'll get to in a bit). It gave me time, which is something that I never give myself. That time allowed me to do something very important, think about ME. Ever wonder about the person you think about least? Well, this sure taught me who #1 really is and that person is ME.
It may sound narcissistic, but here's how I think about it... If my job is to serve, I need something to serve. If I have nothing to serve, I can't serve. Get it? I can't give that which I don't have and for that, I need to give... to myself.
BAM! And that's just the first lesson.
LESSON #2: ENJOY THE MOMENT
In February, we adopted Celia Cruz Garcia (yes, that's her real name). My biggest concern, how I would take care of another dog. You know the saying "be careful what you wish for"? My original wish was "I wish I had time to take care of this dog". Then March hit and, POOF, I had all the time in the world (don't blame me for the start of it). My lesson from Celia came in the walks and time I'd spend outdoors. I've never spent more time in nature. Being able to view what the stars look like at night or smelling the morning dew and fresh garlic in the air (thanks Gilroy). It's in these moments that taught me the importance of time to enjoy the present moment and not focus on the past or future (as Master Oogwe says in Kung Fu Panda).
It's the present moments that teach me to take a breath, to enjoy that breath and sit in it longer than I would ever. For someone who is in stuck in the future, thinking about what next BIG thing I can do, it was hard. At the same time, ultra important so that I may enjoy this life now and not in the future when ... (insert arbitrary goal here) ... happens.
LESSON #3: NEVER STOP LEARNING
What do you do when your businesses are forced to shut down and you have 3 weeks off? You take up a course in whatever your hearts desire. I signed up for more digital courses in the span of 4 months than ever in my life and I've never started more hobbies. I took up a course in NLP (love the brain),and learned more about why we do what we do. I started several challenges that focus on business and well being, and learned tons about business and what else I could create. I subscribed to 3 workout programs each focused on different body parts and lost all the weight I gained in 2019. My fat pants fit again! Yes, even skinny people have fat pants (and I'm OK with you telling me to shut up right now as you said it out loud reading this post). I started reading again. I never realized that I could read 7 books in the course of 3 months. It's insane!
the lesson, it's never too late to start learning and it's probably one of the most important things to improving your well being.
LESSON #4: BUILD GREAT HABITS
In 2020, one of the health programs I began was 75 Hard. A program designed to get you healthy in all aspects of your life including body, mind and spirit. The biggest lesson was teaching my brain that picking up a habit, one I thought was long gone, is actually possible. That habit, is a habit! I picked up the habit of waking up early, of creating a morning exercise routine, of meditating. YES MEDITATING! I'm that insane crazy guy who can't stay still for a minute and now I meditate and breath. Crazy, I know!
LESSON #5: THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY
Promise not cry. Years ago when my Pops passed away, his last wish was more of a promise us kids made to him. That promise was to see each other more often and to remember that nothing is more important than family. The honest part, we didn't follow it too well, with only the occasional holidays and calls on birthdays. I never realized that 6 years later we'd be in this predicament. I taught my mom how to operate Zoom and have seen each other every week for the past 4 months. I see my family more and will continue to see them as my mom has a continuous Zoom link and sends us, in a group thread, a reminder each week (funny how moms can do the guilt trip over text).
I think my Pops had something to do with this.
Funny how a pandemic brought my family and I closer together. I have to tell you though, I sometimes feel I need a break from seeing my family. Is it safe to say that you can have too much of a good thing? (see how I saved that there? Hi Ma!)
With all of these lessons, I can't help but feel joy in my heart and excitement for what the future brings. I realize that it's not the ideal thought for most, since what we mainly hear is the exact opposite, but how could you not? Think of all the great things that came from 2020. Think of the calls you've made, of the friends you've made, of the decisions you made to make things better for yourself and your family.
Think of the new ways we're able to be connected and the new ways we've learned to do our jobs better. The innovation and creativity have flowed and will continue to flow for months to come.
I can only be but happy about the future for our world. In the midst of chaos creativity is born. This is the epitome of that lesson. I understand that for many, there are terrible things that have happened.
I realize that for many, 2020 brought a lot of pain and uncertainty. Left with a feeling discouraged about what could have been. My hope, is rather than discount the feeling, own it, and sit in it with enough quietness to listen to the lessons that lie within. My hope, that we are encouraged by what could be born out of the rubble. It's an amazing thing, what light can come from the darkness if we're willing to see it.
For me, I'm thankful. Thankful for the year I've had, for the lessons I've learned and the people in my life, new and old. I'm thankful for those that listen when I speak and try new things with me as we navigate in a new world. Thankful for the wonderful opportunities that have been given and the relationships that have grown stronger during this time. I'm thankful for this life and for my wife who has managed not to kill me, but love me more as we spend this time together that we will never get back.
Thank You 2020 for the hard lessons and the slap in the face that I didn't know I needed and for opening my eyes to include a much larger world than the one just in front of my face.