Out With The Old, In With The New
Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to a brand new year.
It’s New Year and a common expression around this time of the year is “Out With The Old, In With The New,” this phrase indicates that we should dispose of old things, unwanted items, old ideas, in order to make space for new things to come into our life. This is certainly a familiar concept for Japanese people, as it is a tradition in Japan to do a big cleaning at the end of the year.
But I was wondering, what about this year? Should the idea of out with the old, in with the new have a more profound meaning in a pandemic year. I mean, should we, more than ever, want to forget about the things of 2020 in order to rush into 2021? How will we remember 2020? Should we just try to forget about all of its hardships or should we glean lessons from it? In the end, I guess that’s a choice we all have to make.
One of the things that I love about any New Year is opening my schedule book on January first. It’s become a (kind of) personal custom for me, and one of the first moments of the New Year that I really savor. Sound strange? Ah, maybe it is, but let me elaborate on that.
When I see the fresh, crisp, (you know) untouched pages of a schedule book, it fills me with a sense of optimism. The pages of the schedule book, I guess are really a metaphor for the New Year itself. Nothing is written on these pages, and, nothing is defined about the days ahead. So, in a sense, the plans of a New Year remain unknown. It’s a feeling that the future is unknown, and, therefore can be chosen.
But looking back at January 1st of 2020, of course the same was true, but we couldn’t have predicted the year that would eventually unfold as the pandemic took hold. That sense of being able to choose the events of the future was lost, at least temporarily. And then, when we challenged the things ahead, in many ways, things like how we work, where we work, how we communicate, how we socialize; there’s been such a paradigm shift in virtually every aspect of our lives.
The first reaction may be just to rush into the New Year and let’s forget about 2020, let’s just put it far behind us. That would be understandable. But, the question I’m asking myself is, “was 2020 really that bad?”
In some ways “yes.” We cannot diminish the pain and suffering that so many people had in the world, the loss of health, the loss of life, the loss of family members and, for most of us just a general sense of anxiety that, maybe, we’re still feeling. Yet, I guess in my humble opinion, forgetting about 2020 would be a mistake. Rather than sounding preachy, let me just say that I think it’s more valuable and productive to remember 2020 in detail and try to dissect some lessons from it.
With all of its losses and tough challenges, we should also remind ourselves of the good that came from it. Many people are now spending less time commuting. This has caused us to reevaluate the importance of the office itself, and question whether or not we need to be in the office every single day, or if we really to be face to face for every meeting that’s scheduled.
If not for the pandemic, these workstyle and life changes could have taken another decade or even longer, or maybe they would have never have happened at all, despite the fact that most of the technologies that have allowed these changes have been around for a while.
Most importantly perhaps, we have learned how to become more independent, more self-reliant and better at prioritizing tasks. When the pandemic is over, or at least it’s under control, some things will surely go back to the way things were, while some of the changes that we’ve made will probably stick and lead us to a better place.
So, before rushing into 2021, and leaving behind 2020, I hope that you will take a moment to consider this alternative: rather than just saying “out with the old, and in with the new,” I encourage you to look back at 2020 and find the good things in it and how you can continue to benefit from these things in the days, months and the year ahead.
Thanks for listening. Wishing you health and happiness throughout 2021, and always.