The year 2020 has been rough, and I sincerely hope that 2021 will be easier and better. But even with vaccines, the damage the pandemic has done to lives, businesses, and the global economy won't disappear overnight.
That said, here are a few things you can do to have the best 2021 possible, no matter what's happening in the world.
Stay as agile as possible.
Nassim Taleb's book The Black Swan motivated me to drop out of grad school and make a drastic career change a decade ago. Not to be confused with the Natalie Portman movie about ballet, Taleb's book talks about extreme outlier events that cause great damage, such as the September 11th terrorist attack or a major disease outbreak such as a pandemic.
The key to surviving, or even thriving, in a black swan scenario is agility. You need to be able to rapidly adapt to major changes, and not be stuck with mindsets or methods of doing things.
Be your most authentic self.
Two very close friends of mine died this year in their early 30s from tragic circumstances. The biggest lesson I took from their deaths and the pandemic was that life is way too short and we need to try to make the most of it.
Don't let anyone tell you that you don't have enough experience or connections to make your dreams a reality. Shamelessly pursue your passions. Seek experts' advice, but take every piece of feedback and criticism with a grain of salt and ultimately trust your gut. Because, ultimately, only you know what's right for yourself.
Forging your own path isn't easy, and requires endless hustle and persistent determination, but it's so worth it. And if you're feeling anxious about pulling the trigger, just watch a Razzlekhan or Awkwafina music video to get a quick dose of shameless courage.
One of the hardest things about the pandemic is social isolation. Pick up the phone or schedule a Zoom or FaceTime date with an old friend or family member. If you're not wanting to talk to those people (it happens to all of us sometimes), consider hopping on an app like Shapr or Clubhouse that helps you meet new friends or professional connections.
You can also interact on various social media platforms, or try cold emailing people you want to meet. I personally recommend browsing online communities that relate to your specific interests, such as Facebook Groups or browsing Subreddits.
You never know when one of these new connections will lead to a new career or business opportunity, or even a lifelong friend.
Protect yourself from the dark sides of the internet and social media.
It's hard to avoid screen time when so much of our lives--both social and work-related--requires interacting on a digital device. I noticed I was starting to feel more unhappy and began to self-loathe when I was spending too much time on social media.
I love creating content, but I find I start to feel negative thoughts about myself when I consume too much social media. There's plenty of inspiring, entertaining, and amazing content on the various social platforms, but it's easy to start getting a skewed view of reality that makes you feel bad about yourself: wishing you were more attractive, that your home was nicer, or that your life was otherwise somehow more perfect.
Ironically, two badass female social media influencers I spoke to this year both credit their happiness to limiting their social media activity. Ashley, better known as "Bestdressed" on YouTube and other social media platforms, is only 22 and has more than 3.6 million subscribers. Independent female hip-hop artist Qveen Herby has multiple viral YouTube videos and TikToks under her belt, raking in millions of views as well.
Both women limit how much time they spend consuming social media content and what type of content they consume, and try not to read their comments too much or obsess with their social media stats. While they're highly appreciative of their audiences and strive to create content that betters and inspires women, they each expressed concern for how these platforms impact the minds and self-esteems of women, especially young girls.
No matter what demographic you fall under, notice when you're starting to feel bad about yourself on social media, and observe what is causing that. Are certain profiles, hashtags, or even platforms leading you to have toxic experiences and feelings? Consider changing what or whom you follow, or updating your settings on that platform, at the very least.
Make offline time for yourself too. Journal, read a book, do art, garden, cook something, learn to do something with your hands, workout, or just dance around the house. Try to spend at least an hour a day that doesn't involve a screen, and even think about having a day (possibly a weekend) where you significantly limit your time online.