2020 Reflections: 4 big confessions — and how they’ll help YOU

Dec 17, 2020

Did you start 2020 full of excitement and anticipation for the new year (and decade) ahead?

I sure did. Then, well — COVID happened.

It’s been a year like no other. But amongst the challenges, there’s still plenty worth celebrating.

I’ve had a myriad of end of year catch-ups and conversations in recent weeks. And everyone has a different experience to share about what the events of 2020 taught them.

Many mentioned they’re relieved the year is done — and can’t wait for 2021. Some people have said it’s been one of their best yet, while recognising they’ve been fortunate compared to others.

Yet everyone acknowledges they’ve learnt many important lessons. They’ve enjoyed having greater flexibility to balance work and personal time. And are grateful to have spent more time with family — or not to have had to commute to work every day!

This week as a guest on a LinkedIn Live, I discussed what I’ve learned this year — and what I’ll be taking with me into the next one.

So today, I’m sharing my reflections and honest confessions about how 2020’s ground-breaking lessons have affected my life and business.

Read on to discover the four greatest insights I learned in this extraordinary year. You’ll find out what worked, what didn’t — and how these lessons can help you!


By nature, I’m a planner. As a typical Type-A personality, I started 2020 with BIG goals and a clear plan to reach them.

Then, when the rug was pulled out from under us and our daily routines, goals and plans, it caught me off guard! At the start of COVID, I had a lot of fear and anxiety. As a result, I was slower to respond than many others around me.

2020 has been an important reminder that despite the best laid plans — we can’t plan for everything. I’ve learnt the importance of being flexible and adaptable to change. To experiment and let go of the need to be ‘perfect’ — especially during times of uncertainty.

I still think it’s key to have a clear vision and goals — and to know the exact tasks and activities you need to do daily to get results. The difference is, I will be holding my goals and plans more lightly so I can act fast in future if needed.

As we move into 2021, I also plan to show up in a much bigger way. To follow what lights me up. Get messy, take more risks and put more of my ideas out into the world!

• How quick were you to adapt throughout 2020?
• Where do you need to introduce more flexibility to show up in a bigger way in 2021?


That annoying, get-stuck-in-your-head Frozen theme tune sure was an appropriate anthem for 2020! We experienced a complete loss of control on a collective level. Realising nothing has ever been within our control was a major lesson for us all.

This year was a reminder that you can’t always control situations or circumstances. But you can control how you respond to them, by making the best choice in any given moment.

For example, whether to stay stuck and paralysed by fear. Or to step into the discomfort and try something new!

I’ve also learnt to let go of what happened in the past — or trying to control the future. To surrender. By being present in the moment and choosing to focus on the here and now.

And in the process, I’ve remembered how resilient I am!

Consider — What situation in your life have you been trying (unsuccessfully) to control? And what’s one step you can take to let it go?


The way we work changed forever in 2020.

After getting a taste for remote working, many experienced an improved quality of life. Even the most resistant business leaders have acknowledged the advantages. Studies back up the positive impacts on work/life balance, productivity and performance.

Many companies continue to give staff the flexibility to work from home a couple of days per week. Days ago, Google announced plans to formalise a ‘flexible work week’ in 2021. It’s clear remote working is here to stay.

2020 also tested the belief traditional career paths were ‘safe’ or certain jobs ‘secure’, with entire industries decimated overnight. Faced with this level of uncertainty, people began to reconsider what they wanted.

One theme I’ve seen emerge, is people questioning the dominant view of what ‘success’ looks like. Many individuals have expressed a desire to figure out their own idea of success — rather than trying to pursue someone else’s version.

Whether you’re re-evaluating your goal of chasing yet another pay rise or promotion as you climb the corporate ladder. Or wanting the freedom of running your own business — and fulfilling work which supports your life.

It’s a big lesson I’ve learnt in recent years, reinforced for many in 2020. How to develop your own version of success — and create a career and life on your terms. I’ll continue to talk about this concept in my content and coaching programs in future.

Consider — What does success look like to YOU? And what’s one step you can take to make your version a reality?


There was a quote doing the rounds on Instagram recently which stuck with me. It went something like this. ‘Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, appreciate what you do have.’

I’m sure we can all agree this year has made us reassess and appreciate what — and who — is most important to us.

One of the biggest lessons I shared in my 2019 wrap-up was the realisation: work isn’t everything. This insight came after losing my Dad to a year-long battle with cancer. Until then, work had ruled my life — often at the compromise of my most important relationships.

‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’, is a best-selling book by former palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware. In it, she shares her patient’s greatest regrets. Including: wishing they’d prioritised important relationships and happiness — over working so hard.

This year has been yet another reminder to make time for the people and activities which matter most. And to be grateful for them. It’s a lesson I’ll continue to carry into 2021 — and beyond.

Every so often, I found myself slipping back into that old, unhealthy habit of overworking. Especially during lockdown when the lines became blurred between work and personal time. During times of uncertainty, it felt like one thing I could control.

I’ve learnt to value my time and be more thoughtful about how I’m spending it. As we move into the new year, I plan to simplify and let go of overworking by focusing on a few key strategies which move the needle in my business.

• What important relationship or area of your life have you struggled to make time for this year?
• And what’s one step you can take to prioritise it in 2021?

So, there you have it. The four game-changing lessons I’ve learnt during this extraordinary year. By sharing these insights, I hope you can learn from my experiences and reflect on your own year too.

I’ll be back next week with a Christmas bonus to wrap up the year. A simple year-end reflection to help you review your year and get ready for 2021!

Ready to create a career on your terms in 2021?

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Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.