This year has been unlike any other, both personally and professionally. It has challenged us to be resilient, practice patience and adjust to a virtual work and social life that is far different from the way we lived at the start of 2020. At the end of every year, I think it is important to spend time not only thinking about resolutions for the new year, but also reflecting on what the current year has taught us.

Here are 10 things 2020 taught me personally and professionally:

  1. Maintaining and growing relationships virtually is achievable. While I greatly miss in person interactions with my colleagues and extended family, it has been amazing to see how technology has helped keep ties strong and grow relationships.
  2. Appreciating the present moment. The world changed so quickly and dramatically when the pandemic hit, from travel restrictions and working from home, to restaurants closing their doors and gatherings being limited. These are things we all miss and as a result, I have personally enjoyed being in the moment each day and appreciating the little moments that bring me joy.
  3. Committing to a deeper focus on health and resilience. It has been a challenging and unprecedented year on so many fronts, so maintaining personal health and finding resilience is something I have had to pay attention to even more and incorporate into my life. In addition to running and hiking, I frequently look for new ways to improve my overall health, and this year I started incorporating “walking meetings” into my day, rather than taking every call in front of my computer.
  4. Understanding the importance of preparation for work and personal activities. With the increase of virtual interactions, both for work and for socialization, I have found that a little (or a lot) of preparation before the activity can help significantly improve communication and results.
  5. Being present and selective with how I spend my time has been rewarding. With the world slowing down and my calendar getting filled with virtual meetings and other activities, deciding how and when I participate has been helpful. Saying yes to every video happy hour, team-building event or activity can feel like too much (or overwhelming). However, I have found that participating when I can make the time is so important for building and maintaining relationships. At the same, I am mindful of being present as often as possible and contributing in meaningful ways, even by volunteering virtually.
  6. On the other hand, opting out of certain meetings, activities and events has also been important. Carving out time when I need a break or where my participation may not be impactful or necessary has given me time to focus on what is important. There have been many afternoons when I have needed to step away from my computer and take a short run to clear my mind, refocus and take a break.  
  7. Establishing a morning routine has provided a significant boost of energy and focus for me. Being intentional about starting my day by reading a physical copy of a book and eliminating electronics and screen time for the first 45 minutes after I wake up, drinking lots of water for hydration and also incorporating meditation are daily changes that have all made a difference.
  8. Investing in the right tools, technology and set-up can make a huge difference in impact and productivity. Once we started working remotely, I missed my standing desk from the office so much I decided to purchase one for my home office. It felt great not to be sitting for hours on calls and to be able to stand during meetings. And a bonus when standing up while on a video call (versus sitting) is that we naturally come across the screen with more energy and concentration.
  9. Writing things down with a physical pen and paper has been surprisingly effective. I started writing things down more frequently (both personal and professional notes) because unlike at my work office, I do not have a nearby printer in my home office. I now find that as I write notes during meetings or as I prepare key points I plan to make for presentations, the process of writing all that down internalizes the learning in a much deeper way for me than when I used to just print out documents.
  10. Being flexible and agile is essential. Whether it is figuring out new technology (which I learned firsthand by starting a podcast this year) or adjusting to working virtually, the advantages of being as flexible and agile as possible have been significant and a great learning opportunity.  

What have you learned in 2020? Are there lessons you will take away from this year either personally or professionally?

Don Antonucci serves as Senior Vice President of Growth for Blue Shield of California. He has more than two decades of experience in the health care industry and is the host of “Healthy Dose of Dialogue” podcast available on Apple iTunes or Spotify. The monthly podcast invites healthcare leaders to share fresh perspectives and engage in healthy dialogue about marketplace trends and industry insights impacting health care today.