What does 2021 mean to you?

Seven Days into the new year and I’m sitting down in my office at 10:30 pm, scrolling through Facebook on my phone. It’s really interesting to see people talk about their new year resolutions, the things that they look forward to in 2021, how they all optimistically think that everyone will thrive in the year ahead and things could not get any worse than what we’ve been through.

There is something powerful about the new year, about the opportunities we have with a fresh start to the year. To be perfectly honest, as one of the most devastating years in our lives has come to an end, we need exciting things to look forward to in 2021! Bill Gates thinks we should be optimistic about 2021 because of three vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech & AstraZeneca) gaining approval for use at various quarters in 2021 in the fight against COVID-19.

The breakthrough of a vaccine and the pace of its development in 2020 has stunned us – governments, companies, and scientists around the world were able to cut through the “BS” and get along to handle a global pandemic crisis swiftly. Such collaborative achievement and effort are not just something that could only happen in a Hollywood movie. This has definitely restored our faith in humanity in some sense. But the truth of the matter is while the calendar might be turning a new page, much of our reality will still be the same in 2021. The detrimental effect from 2020 will definitely resonate for the years ahead. Sadly, many who struggled in 2020 will continue to face serious problems – personally, financially, and professionally. In a way 2021 feels like an extension of 2020 and January became the 13th month of 2020 for most parts of the world particularly the UK and the US.

It’s interesting how the experience I get from each previous year has positioned me differently and shaped the way I place my focus for the year. After the year we just had, I felt the desire to go back to the basics. I want to be as optimistic as I can be with a clear path forward. What 2020 has taught me is that the key to gaining clarity and optimism is not through complexity but rather through simplicity. Sometimes we tend to overcomplicate things, this can do more harm than good psychologically and can shroud us from the truth.  I have made myself a small list of three points that I’ll be focusing on this New Year:

The first is the idea of de-cluttering my life.  What I mean by that is to de-clutter our thoughts, stop overthinking the consequences, shrink down the list of friends to those who are supportive and genuinely interested in your well-being and place your focus on the long-term goals. Work microscopically on a daily basis to move closer to where you want to be. It certainly sounds simple to do but I can tell you that it is extremely hard and is something I’m actively working on to improve myself.

The second point is don’t wait and start doing. I think one of the consequences of spending so much time in lockdown this year is the realisation of how much time we have. Many of us have lost the appreciation of what I would consider the most valuable resource everyone has. Before COVID-19, many of us would complain about how little time we had in a day to get things done. However, during the lockdown, we realised how much of our precious time is wasted aimlessly browsing Facebook feeds and watching Netflix. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot for the past year. There have been moments where I was playing the waiting game to wait for the storm to pass, however, I do not want my whole life to be dictated by unforeseeable circumstances. I’m not going to wait to try to bring to life the things I dream about even if it means I need to be resourceful and find creative ways to turn it into a reality.

The third thing is to figure out how you want to spend your time. Allocating your time to things that matter is probably the most important point when it comes to living a less exhausting and more productive life. Just before the new year, I found out on average I’ve spent 2.5 hours on my phone checking and replying to emails, browsing the news and social media, and listening to podcasts.

This newfound information really opened my eyes to my media consumption. This concerns me because when I look back at my life, such a level of media consumption is not something that I would think of as mattering. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against social media or any form of media consumption. However, I also consider it a waste of my time which I could better invest elsewhere such as spending more time with my family and working on the business direction I want to go.

Despite our greatest hope for an easy year, 2021 will no doubt be a year just like other years, where it will take its own course. There will be multiple obstacles, bumps, and windy corners. But to gain clarity and optimism, we must adopt a simple mindset, de-clutter our thoughts, embrace what life throws at us and allocate our time effectively. This will allow us to navigate the year ahead with a little more ease.

To all the highs and lows that 2021 brings,