What 2021 Taught Us About What Really Mattered

Here on The Gents Blog we have a pretty consistent theme at the end of each year.  Reflect and level up.  Whether that’s doing an annual review which could lead to resolutions along with ideas to keep you accountable to those resolutions, the end of any year offers so much in the way of opportunity to think about all that has happened in the last 12 months but also to think through your plans for the next 12.  

But 2021 was different, because it was our first full year after the surprises that 2020 dealt us.  It was a chance to balance narratives of “back to normal” and “not yet” that the government and media competed to spin.  Many of us spent this year continuing to step forward despite the uncertainty all around us.

Hopefully that uncertainty shook the comfortable assumptions that many of us had prior to 2020 and perhaps nursed throughout that year, certain that things would be “back to normal” soon.  And while certain aspects of our individual lives, be it our businesses, jobs, kids’ schooling, or even hobbies, might be a great way “back to normal,” certain aspects are on some variation of indefinite hold.

As routines and assumptions all around us continue to be questioned, it’s as good a time as any to ask: what did 2021 teach me about what really mattered?  Audit yourself.

  • How’s my relationship with my significant other and/or kids?  Was I living the life I wanted with them prior to last year?  Am I living it now?  If not, what’s stopping me?
  • How’s my business/career situation?  Did my business/job survive the pandemic?  What did that teach me?  Am I doing the work I want to be doing now?  If not, what’s stopping me?
  • How’s life?  Be it friends, extended family, hobbies, travel, or volunteering (or something else), what has 2021 taught you about your real priorities? What have you dropped? What have you picked up?

One enduring lesson 2021 has bestowed is knowing you can’t assume you’ll always be able to do what you had planned to do.  For example, if you had plans for that trip you were finally going to take to New Zealand or Australia in the last couple years, you’ve had to deal with how it feels like to not be able to do something for reasons entirely out of your control, and to not be able to do that something indefinitely.  How did you react to situations like that?  What did that teach you about yourself?

Another lesson 2021 gave us was one that we should have been taught since childhood, but have probably never had to deal with: sometimes things may get bad or weird with no clear end in sight.  The people suffering during the Dust Bowl era had no idea that there was even going to be an “era” that they would be famously part of (and that would last for the better part of a decade); they were just trying to make it to the next day.  While some of us might have kept kicking cans down the road, what has this uncertainty taught me about myself and what matters to me?

As we said above, every year brings great opportunities to reflect.  2021, because of the year that came before and because of events that continue to unfold, has given us a once-in-a-generation experience.  And 2022 may one-up that.  For now, take stock and don’t let those lessons go to waste. Use them to make 2022 one you can be proud of.

If you feel comfortable sharing a key lesson you learned this year, please do so in the comments.

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