What Will You Take Away From A Challenging Year

What Will You Take Away From A Challenging Year?

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“When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge — every adversity — contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” ~ Roy T. Bennett

We all had a challenging year that came with its own hurdles and learned how quickly things can change and impact our lives globally. We experienced change at an unprecedented rate. We’ve overcome obstacles that we didn’t know existed until it raised its head. It’s been an interesting year.

As the quote above suggests, every challenge has within it an opportunity. An opportunity to learn and to unlearn. A chance to do things differently and to grow beyond the limits that we’ve set for ourselves. Challenges give us the chance to see new possibilities and develop new ways of thinking about the things that we’ve been doing on autopilot.


A key part of overcoming challenges, especially those imposed on us during sudden change, is adaptation. When you choose to adapt and consciously work with change, you make things happen for you, rather than take a back seat and allow things to happen to you. To quote Kara Barbieri, “The oak is the strongest tree in the forest, but the willow bends and adapts. When the fires and storms hit, it is the willow that survives.”

It’s important to gather and reflect on lessons from the past in order to get value and grow from your experiences. To do this, use the following guide to look back on your year and extract the most important lessons that you’ll take with you into the new year:

1. Get a notebook and pen
  • Or use a digital tool, to document your reflections and insights
2. Set aside a quiet time
  • Create a calm space to review your year
3. Reflect on your year
  • What happened this year?
  • What went well for me?
  • What didn’t go well for me?
4. Extract the lessons
  • What did I do to make things go well for me?
  • What did I do when I experienced challenges?
  • How did I move past any challenges?
  • What did I learn over the last year?
5. Decide on how you’ll move forward
  • What will I do differently next year?
  • How will I do this? What support and resources do I need to gather?

How you manage challenges is determined by your perspective. A difficult year doesn’t equate to “doom and gloom” and it certainly doesn’t mean that the year ahead will be filled with the same challenges. And even if it is, it’s up to you to decide how you’ll adapt and grow from it. Remember, the biggest challenges often present the biggest opportunities.

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