2020: Reflections on a year like no other

Thursday, December 31, 2020.

We have posted our weekly blog nearly every Thursday for the last two years.

This Thursday post feels different in so many ways. While I often take time to reflect at the end of a calendar year, this one has stopped me in my tracks. I cannot help but look back on this year and think how absolutely different it ended up turning out than what I had hoped or planned. Like countless other people, Kelly and I both have experienced direct impacts of COVID-19, ranging from minor disappointments to shattering losses. It has been a year of grief but also a year of growth. I think in terms of key words and key points and that has been so helpful as I think through all of the personal and professional upheaval which this year as brought. Here are the words that have come to my mind:

Changes

2020 has been a year of constant change. Everything predictable and stable in life, at one point or another, has seemed to shift. Routines we had, events we planned, all of the little and big ‘stuff’ that makes up life was affected and changes were unavoidable and necessary. At work, changes in schedules, changes in deadlines, changes in how we interact with clients all were necessary as well. About the only thing that seemed to be a constant this year was that you could not set any plans in stone, that everything was subject to change.

Adapting

With all of these changes, it became necessary to adapt. This is where I think the real growth has happened this year. Adapting priorities, adapting prior ways of doing things to fit the ‘new normal’ (whatever that means), the list goes on and on. As we have learned to live in uncertain times, I believe the unpredictability of this year has forced us collectively, and me in particular, to grow in vast measure. Routines are no longer reliable, and even the mundane school week our family built our lives around is subject to change on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. Our family has learned, like so many others, to adapt to situations which seemed absolutely inconceivable just one year ago.

Professionally, this year has required us to adapt as well. Here at Shade Tree, we have done some hard work this year really focusing on what we do, WHY we do it, and how we can make changes to best meet our clients’ needs in these times. The work has been hard, thought-provoking, and also has me very excited for the future. I hope to look back and see 2020 as a pivotal year for us, one from which the company emerges refreshed, refocused, and with a stronger sense of mission and purpose than ever before.

Time

Like many of us, this year’s endless string of cancelled events has left me with newfound time. While I miss and grieve some of the fun family experiences we looked forward to this year and the memories we won’t make, I do appreciate the opportunity to re-examine my calendar and refocus my time. As much as I look forward to the time when we can add back in some of the routine (like watching our kids’ sporting events and attending church together) and non-routine (family trips!) events that make family memories, I do plan to be much more intentional with what we add back in. Time is precious and we are not promised tomorrow, as so many of us who have lost loved ones know.

Looking Back, and Looking Forward:

I have learned that the changing of a calendar to a new year (or even a new day!) can bring so much unexpected news. I have learned that the best-laid plans are never set in stone. I have learned that loss and growth go hand-in-hand. I hope that years later, when we look back on this time, however long it lasts, we can see that the sad things were not without purpose and resulted in positive changes which made our world a better place.

Kelly and I thank you for engaging with us on this blog each week, and we wish you a very happy new year.

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