Last year (end of 2019) I started the practice of an end of year personal review and noticing how good it is for self reflection, decided to make it a staple of every New Year cycle, part as an improvement exercise and part of a rite of passage as well.
This is a summarized and aggregated reflection taken out of some of the notes jotted down throughout 2020 during my journaling practice, where I summarize my monthly and quartertly experiences and learning. Reflection and self understanding are such key parts of everyone personal growth and sharing is also part of that cycle to get perspective
Without any further ado, these are the most important things I learned in 2020
Reading books is the most effective way to change your perspective about things
The Kindle Oasis that I got on October 17, 2020 has changed my reading habits forever. I was in the Kobo ecosystem for 10 years and decided to try Kindle this year, and found a much needed and renewed passion for books and text consumption. Like everything, the newness factor will wear out in time but for now I am enjoying reading at least one or two books a week. And this has put so many new ideas and concepts in my head. Not every book is worth reading, not everything in a book is worth reading but the only way to find out is … by reading them! I was looking for this kind of insights for years and my final attempt was by binging YouTube videos. Only to find out that coming back to books was the answer I already knew from the beginning.
Journaling is Key for Self Reflection
Once I started to see the benefits that come with the disciplined practice of Journaling, there is no way to go back. This journey of exploration into different methods started in July 2019 first with the Best Self Journal. Further in 2019 I got to experiment more with the Bullet Journal Method in a regular notebook and also got to customize some of it. Throughout 2020 I journaled regularly on paper and in the final quarter also got to experiment a bit more by journaling digitally on OneNote with an iPad and Apple Pencil. Although still not sure which method is the best, doing it in any shape or form has tremendous benefits. Because you get to see the power of having “photographs” of your thoughts and brain that you can go back to in the weeks or months and even years after, re-read and reflect on; you will see your growth going from linear to exponential.
A Digital Productivity System is Key for High Perfomance Results
During some of the initial slow down during the first weeks of the pandemic, I decided to look inside and focus on understanding how to improve my personal productivity and organizational methods. And I found the P.A.R.A method from Tiago Forte, which has been a godsend to tame all the digital information most of us require to process, consume or discard every day. That paired with a refined approach to the Bullet Journal and a Digital note capturing and organizational system in OneNote have saved me and allowed me to keep my focus and mental sanity. All these has been also married with some of my own obsessions on self-quantification and self-metrics tracking and also provided me with numbers I can go back to and understand where have I spent most of the time in 2020 and with whom.
Consistency is always the key to not lose your Focus
Also to be fair, 2020 was not the best year to stay focused on any single thing with all the events that happened. But the main lesson learned here is that if you don’t have a system that allows you to register, remind and log your goals and habits (your memory doesn’t count as such system), the day-to-day will always eat up all the time available in your life. Having a constant reminder of what is your path, what you want and have to do, why you have to do it helps us staying consistent in the path that we set for ourselves in the times where we were clear and not overwhelmed by the daily grind.
Anything and everything can change in an instant
I think we have all experienced this in 2020, it was such a disruptive change of way of life that no one can ignore. On the first weeks of March I was on planes to Montreal, NY and Detroit, and 1 week later… I found myself locked down at home, and have not been able to go back to the previous rythm of life, ever againg (not yet at least). Nothing could have prepared us for what we have been through and also the speed of change. We all somehow adapted, changed and survived to the single largest simultaneous global event in the history of Humanity.
Leadership to solve a problem requires having a different perspective
If you try to lead from the trenches, by rolling up your sleeves and working with your team like I did during some of 2020, you lose avery much needed strategic perspective. And it is also not fair to your team as you are not playing the role they need. The closer you are to a problem or to the tasks on a project, the more difficult it is to lead it with the tools and mindset required to look at it from a different viewpoint.
Coaching is about the Questions you ask and not about the People or the Problem
Similar to the perspective required for leadership, the only way to help others is to help them find their own solutions and not to provide solutions for them. The best way for this is coaching. Questions are the most important thing we can have to help others find their own professional or personal life. By asking some key questions, we can help others gain the perspective they sometimes cannot find within themselves and find the answers they need for the challenges they are facing. And there is nothing more fullfiling than connecting with others and to see them grow in the path that makes them fulfilled.