(For gaining clarity)
Teri A. Coutu
Business & Marketing Consultant
Last year at this time, I was eager to engage in a new year of marketing campaigns that talked about “bringing your goals into focus” and “seeing things clearly in 2020.” Instinctively, I knew 2020 was going to bring us a clearer picture of everything, I just didn’t realize it would be so dramatic about it!
It’s been a challenging year, to say the least. But, as I sit here in the final hours of 2020, I am immensely grateful for all the clarity the year brought. I know, I know… there were SO many problems, heartbreaks, and losses. And, l wish those things didn’t hurt so much. But, the uncomfortable reality is that we learn more from challenging times than we do easy ones. And, if that’s true, this year was worthy of a Ph.D.!
Here are some of the graduate courses we all were enrolled in, and some of the takeaways:
- Public Health: Through the COVID experience, we have all been reminded of the importance of being in good health, and how quickly our health can be in jeopardy if we don’t take precautions. We’ve seen how different bodies react to the same virus, and have struggled with how best to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
- Business 101: Having strong business foundation and flexible team was never as important as in 2020. While many businesses learned just how important it is to have a strong financial budget and emergency fund, many employees learned that working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Not to mention that many people now realize there’s a lot to be grateful for when you have an employer who keeps you on the payroll.
- Social Studies & History: We certainly learned a lot about social injustices and their impact on our lives, not to mention their historical beginnings and consequences. While we have a long way to go before all Americans are treated equally, 2020 showed us where we’re failing and that many people are tired of the negative rhetoric. Divided, we all fail. Together, we can create a better future for all.
- Politics: It doesn’t matter what party you subscribe to, I think most everyone can agree that 2020 showed us all that politics are more messed up than we can imagine. Unfortunately, I don’t think we were presented with any viable solutions, but recognizing and admitting there’s a problem is a good first step.
- Communications: This was a hard lesson for many in 2020. Many people aren’t great at communicating when in the same room with colleagues, family and friends, so learning to properly express ourselves via Zoom calls and Google Chat was especially daunting. But, we’re finding our way through the process and I, personally, think this can help increase communications at all levels.
- Stress Management. While stress was at an all-time high, there was a plethora of tips and workshops on identifying and managing stress. For those of you who started practicing new forms of stress release and management, these skills will serve you well for a lifetime. My favorite lesson in stress management was recognizing that sometimes you’ve just got to let go of your expectations and go with the flow.
Life is challenging. Always. And the key is to know what you can and can’t control, and make the very best of each opportunity. It’s not easy. It never was and never will be. But, there ARE silver linings to every problem, and it’s our job to find them so we can learn and grow. Eventually, we come to our Capstone course where we integrate all we’ve learned. But, I believe my dad was right when he said “As long as I’m here it means I have more to learn.” So, I am thankful I’m still here and learning!
I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but I hope 2020 brought you some clarity you can use to make the new year healthy, successful, and especially joy-filled. Congratulations, graduates. See you next semester!