2020 sucked for everyone, probably more for some, and less for others. I’ve had times this year where I wished it would end, I’ve had times where I didn’t know what to do, and there were times where I genuinely felt guilty for feeling like things were going great. But there were a couple things that drove me forward, taught me to relook with a different perspective, and at the end of the day, made it alright. Not great, not awesome, but alright.
For any of this to make sense, I’ll have to give a bit of background. I work in tech, DevOps specifically, (or whichever term you’d like to give it) - and I have wanted to work in tech since I was old enough to know what a computer was. This gave me drive, it (still) gives me a purpose, and it gives me a reason to get out of bed every day.
This purpose that I feel, and the drive I have to do what I do, is the main thing that revolves around what made 2020 different, and extremely tough. There were a number of things I had to work on to make it through the year, and I’d like to share some of them here, hopefully they can give some help or insight to you too.
I find it exceptionally easy to stay motivated with work. I have always wanted to do what I do, and that drives me to keep doing it. I don’t need an ulterior motive or an outside motivation to keep going, although sometimes there can be nice side affects. The primary issue I have experienced with motivation this year, is the bleak outlook and understanding that many around me have had towards extreme motivation.
You know what I mean, the people with a bleak outlook regardless of how good things are going, or the person who only sees the negatives. Having a year where even despite most people’s best efforts, they were seen in a bad light, or lost their jobs, or had to quit, or lost their own motivation to keep going. That made staying motivated in 2020 a far harder task than in any years prior.
Knowing when to stop
I’ve always struggled with knowing when I need to give myself a break, and 2020 only increased the visibility of that issue. Working long days to get something done, finish a task, or reach a goal is awesome and inspiring. Never knowing when you need to take a beat to re-energise, or recover after doing so, can be detrimental, causes burnout and can make one extremely miserable.
It’s really hard to know your limit, when your motivation never goes away. 2020 absolutely forced me to figure out this balance more than ever, to keep myself, my job, my mind and my emotions in check and able to be processed. You don’t know you’re at your limit until you hit it, and suddenly it can end in disaster. Finding the line for myself before this happened this year, was a valuable and incredibly useful lesson.
Not every day can be a 100% day
This one is a big one, and it’s ever more important. In a world where we are being bombarded with bad news, issues, deaths and world problems on a daily basis, we simply don’t have the capacity to make every single day a 100% effort day. For a long time, if I had a day where I didn’t give 100%, I felt bad about it. I’d force myself to give 120% the next day, and for however long I needed to to feel good about it. But in 2020 this needed to change. Understanding what the 100% looks and feels like is amazing, but if a day needs to be an 80% day so that the next one can be 100%, then that is what needs to happen. If the place you work or the things you do don’t allow you to have days like this, then it’s probably worth asking why and finding a solution.
Giving 100% every single day is a sure fire way to allow 0% of any other things to help, remedy, rest, relax or excite you. In 2020, this just hasn’t been sustainable.
Going a bit easier on yourself
This one is heavily linked to the above. If you have a day where you can’t give 100%, you need to find a way to be ok with that. I have certainly had to find a way to be ok with this, and it’s been one of the most important lessons I have had to learn this year. Just because you don’t give 100% on a day, or even for a few days in a row, does not mean you’re any less, or deserve less, or shouldn’t be motivated by the effort you put in.
Find a way to be ok when you have an off day!
There you have it! - 2020 has been a crazy one for all of us, and the biggest lesson that I have had to learn is certainly that:
The internet may never sleep, but humans have to.
Hopefully 2021 treats us a little better than 2020 has!