What I’ve learned this year – The Zoom edition

This year has been so hard in so many ways, but even amid massive challenges, there have been moments of grace, wonder and of course many moments of learning.  In what has become a semi-annual Metta Solutions tradition (see Summer 2020, Winter 2019 and Summer 2019, I present my list of learnings from the past six months. I hope that when you look back on the year, you also see some lessons that will stay with you into next year and beyond.

July

  • Seeing my family regularly online is critical, even when it’s a busy week on Zoom. They are an important part of my life, and it’s so very much worth it for one more video call.
  • I am going to always be learning from others whose experiences are different from mine. I must stay curious and open. See the Summer 2020 Edition of “What I have learned so far this year is … not enough.”
  • Announcing my plans to retire in November from academic life (and into full-time coaching through Metta Solutions) is bittersweet, but I am ready for this step into the “third third” of my life.

August

  • It’s not only OK to set Zoom boundaries, it is mandatory to limit my screen time and to make physical movement a priority.
  • I must come back to exercise – it’s been too easy to let this go. See above.
  • Finding something new to learn is important – generativity is healing.

September

  • There is good neuroscientific evidence that explains why video calls can be so tiring. Limiting total time, shortening meetings and questioning whether a meeting is even necessary are all core elements of good Zoom hygiene. I am a big champion of this concept.
  • I am a social creature, and I have to be intentional about making connection with others during this time of relative isolation.
  • Closing out obligations with integrity as I prepare to retire is both a lot of work and a labor of love.
    Watching my spouse retire after a 40-plus-year career in medicine is a gift and a blessing. Celebrating her many, many contributions to humanity is so very important to me!

October

  • The degree of time I spend on Zoom must be inversely proportional to my other screen time, and particularly should crowd out social media time, for my own well-being.
  • There are a lot of stresses and situations in the world around me that I cannot change. I just have to learn to “be” with my own responses. This is hard.
  • There are some boundaries I need to set, even with close friends. This is OK.

November

  • Children and spouses, dogs, cats, ferrets and other pets are welcome on Zoom. We have to give each other a lot of space for grace about the beings with whom we live being part of our work world in this hybrid existence.
  • The outcome of our political situation is fraught, and I can only hold my own development about what is happening on this front
  • It’s really hard to be separated from loved ones during the holiday season. I have to make space for the sadness, and then find the joy.

December

  • SophieTaking a one-week break from Zoom is very healthy. A six-week break, at least as I have planned it, seems like an unheard-of gift. I must plan to use video calls sparingly when I return to work.
  • Retiring from academia, as I have just done, calls forth a need for a new structure and organizational approach to my life. Developing that will be the work of the coming months. I suspect the summer 2021 edition of this post will contain a full report about how it went.
  • Connections with friends and family are tough to maintain this year, but are still important! In spite of all my learnings about Zoom, I still am relying on it for some of those connections.
  • Sophie, my dog, is truly joy wrapped in fur. What a gift! As you can probably guess from the photo, she always makes me smile!

I find reflecting on the good and the difficult so helpful for processing where I have been and where I hope to go next. It is my hope for all of us that 2021 is brighter and better than this year has been, but it is also my hope that you can look back on this year and find moments to celebrate and learn from in your own life.

What have you learned this year?

Feel free to share in the comments. Or, better yet, consider starting your own habit of documenting reflections from each month of the year!

Last updated December 29, 2020

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