Hindsight is 2020. What’s next?

I love the week between Christmas and the New Year! For me it’s a strange, beautiful time of solitude and reflection. A time to relax and indulge, maybe do a little planning for the future, not knowing or caring what day it is. Um…not unlike every day of this past year…

And what a year it has been! It seemed so much longer, and was packed with so many more unpredicted, unpleasant events than any other year in memory.

How many times have I heard – and uttered – these phrases?

I’m blaming 2020.

It’s 2020’s fault.

Of course that happened — it’s 2020!

Good riddance 2020....but what will we blame everything on come January 1st? Click To Tweet

Good riddance 2020…..except nothing’s really changed.

Oops! The tip-top of my neighbor’s giant tree fell on my house (and wall, and utility lines).

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, financial crisis, civil unrest, and the most contentious U.S. election in modern history, this is a year we won’t soon forget. I have been happy to blame anything and everything on 2020, from not finishing my new book yet, to a neighbor’s giant tree falling on my roof, to a skunk taking up residence under my house. (It is only now dawning on me what an apt metaphor living with a skunk is for this entire year.)

Indeed, we have all become so accustomed to blaming everything on 2020 that I am starting to wonder:

What will we blame everything on come January 1st?

How will our 2020 hindsight serve us?

I mean, nothing’s really changed. The pandemic death rate is higher than ever. The election results are still denied by many.

But there’s HOPE for change. HOPE for the new vaccine. HOPE for healing the country and the economy. HOPE that we can all get our lives back on track in a way that seems familiar and comfortable, even if different — better in some ways? — than before. Right?

My new kitty-boys came as a bonded pair.

Silver Linings

Don’t forget the silver linings. People are so creative! They have found new ways to work, learn, spend their time, and help each other. Some families have — ironically, despite their individual isolation — become closer as a result of tech tools such as Zoom. Many of my colleagues have jumped on the virtual organizing bandwagon, published books, created programs, and been quite productive.

And for those like me, who have been, um, somewhat less productive this year, I have been an advocate of giving yourself a break. We all have different layers of chronic issues and new stressors that accompany the constantly-shifting circumstances in which we all find ourselves. We’ve all been weathering the same storm, but in different boats.

And 2020 was the year of the new kitties! (It was a long, lonely year without George until they came along to rescue me.)

There is much to be grateful for.

Is Hindsight 2020?

There’s a funny (?) meme going around that says:

Nobody claim 2021 as “your year”.

We’re all going to walk in real slow.

Be good. Be quiet. Don’t. Touch. Anything.

This will be the first time we can say that hindsight is 20/20 AND 2020!

I hope we’ve learned something from all of this. But, if history repeats itself, we will soon forget.

So, now what?

Well, we can’t blame 2020 anymore. Can we?

I mean, bad stuff happens every year, right? So, now what?

Or, even better, in the words of President Bartlet on “The West Wing”:

What’s next?

Why is that better? Here’s the difference: “Now what?” (to me) implies bracing oneself for yet another unknown, but most likely unpleasant, occurrence. Whereas “What’s next?” contains a hint of hopefulness and the possibility that whatever is next on the agenda is something we can control, or at least take in stride. It is grounded in the present moment, not in regret for the past, or in worry for the future (both of which are forms of mental clutter).

Back to basics

Meanwhile, I’ve been so understanding of myself, and taken it so easy all year, that I’m now craving a little structure.

It’s back to basics for me. And it’s not like I don’t know what to do! Simply daily routines. Basic time management. No need to recreate the wheel.

Time to re-read some of my old blog posts, the ones captured in my New Year & Goal Setting Resource Roundup. Especially the ones in the Motivation category!

Last year’s post about FOCUS on 2020 is laughable in hindsight, although I do still rather like the poem I ended it with:

A Toast to 2020 > 2021

Here’s to peace in the New Year.
Peace at home.
Peace in the world.
Peace within.

And here’s to 20/20 vision > hindsight
for creating peace where we can,
by tweaking our daily habits,
by adjusting our expectations,
by fixing (or letting go of)
what is broken,
by voting our consciences,
by speaking our minds…

…and for seeing clearly the situations in which we have no control.


And, in hindsight, because I found it comforting and effective, I’m reverting to my several-years-ago “word of the year” which was actually a phrase:  Progress equals happiness.

It doesn’t have to be a lot of progress. Even the smallest amount of progress, in a few areas per day, makes me happy and keeps the ball(s) rolling. Or the plates spinning. Or the metaphor of your choice.

So, I’m gonna do that again.


What’s next for YOU in 2021?

Are you hopeful? Do you have a motivational word or phrase for the new year?

Please share in the comments below!

Copyright 2020 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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  1. Linda Samuels on December 28, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    I love the reflective nature of your post! I know it’s that time of year, but it doesn’t mean we HAVE to reflect. Like you, I appreciate looking back before going the “What’s Next?” route. What a great phrase! I’m a fan of The West Wing, but I had forgotten that was Barlet’s call to action. It’s perfect. And as you said, it exudes hope, action, and presence.

    I haven’t done my full-on reflecting yet, it’s been coming in pieces, but as I wrote “hope, action, and presence,” those feel like the right ideas to carry with me into 2021.

    Wishing you and your beautiful “kitty-boys” a happy and healthy New Year!

    • Hazel Thornton on December 28, 2020 at 9:56 pm

      Thanks, Linda! Nope, no pressure to reflect, or set goals, at a particular time of the year. Wishing you a hopeful, active, and present New Year!

  2. Janet Schiesl on December 28, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    You are right. Nothing will change this Friday. That’s why my word for 2021 is flexibility. I want to have a positive outlook for 2021, but know that things can and will change slowly. I wonder if everything that happened in 2020 will changes us as a society (for better or worse)?

    • Hazel Thornton on December 28, 2020 at 9:52 pm

      Ah, flexibility! Such a great word, and a useful quality to have. I think 2020 has already changed us.

  3. LISA GESSERT on December 28, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Great blog! nope nothing will change this week heading into 2021, but I agree I will walk in slowly, and I will probably do things a bit differently, maybe putting more focus on people, places, making memories rather than on stuff. More good reading, great movies to fuel me…for sure 2020 will go down in the record books as being quite the year!

    • Hazel Thornton on December 28, 2020 at 9:50 pm

      Thanks, Lisa! You’ve just moved and are starting a whole new phase of your life. 2021 will be memorable for you in a good way, I predict!

  4. Melanie Summers on December 28, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    I know what you mean about forging deeper relationships, even during isolation. I feel as though, especially with family (not as much with friends), that we’ve made more effort to connect and video chat than we would have otherwise. This year has forced many to declutter baggage and get crystal clear on what really matters in their lives. I feel blessed to have found many positive lessons and new adventures in 2020. I never want to gloss over the struggles and pain many have faced through this and I do my best to give back through my work. However, forcing myself to look on the bright side has kept me sane in some dark and terrifying moments. I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic about 2021… more curious, I guess.

    Happy New Year to you!!!

    • Hazel Thornton on December 28, 2020 at 9:49 pm

      I think curiosity — which implies openness — is a good thing. Happy New Year to you too, Melanie!

  5. Julie Bestry on December 29, 2020 at 2:41 am

    What a gorgeous post, Hazel.

    You’re right about “What’s next?”(Oh, my beloved Jed Bartlet) vs. “Now what?” which always calls to mind Dorothy Parker’s “What fresh hell is this?”

    You toast is evocative, and will resonate differently with each reader, but for me, “by fixing (or letting go of) what is broken,” and “…and for seeing clearly the situations in which we have no control” are definitely on my mind.

    Last year, I set “ample” as my word for 2020; I even had a little phrase: “Ample, it’s not just for bosoms anymore.” I’d eschewed “abundance” because I felt like it was calling out to have an abundance of yucky things; somehow, ample only felt imbued with positivity. So for 2021, my word is “Delight.” (Or maybe delighted.) Between 2020 and reckoning with my age, I’m not wasting time on things that don’t delight me. 2021 is about taking control of what I let in. What happens “out there” is out of my control; but what light I let shine inside me? That’s all my decision.

    (And you should follow the @Sorkinese (Sorkin Dialogue) account on Twitter.)

    • Hazel Thornton on December 29, 2020 at 8:39 am

      Thanks, Julie! I knew you’d like the “What’s next?” part. And the Dorothy Parker quote is a perfect example of “Now what?” I wish you all things delightful in 2021!

  6. Kathy on December 30, 2020 at 7:59 am


    My theme phrase for 2020 had been Fresh Start. Ha, how wrong that turned out. I’ve decided that Fortitude is my 2021 theme. I consider myself a realist…

    Perhaps you are already aware of this idea but in case you weren’t… I had a skunk move in under my porch one year. I solved it by placing “used” kitty litter in the place where the skunk was entering/exiting. Worked like a charm!

    No skunks in my current yard but we do have groundhogs. I’ve found that dropping bags of used cat litter in their holes early in the season before they have their spring babies also works well.

    • Hazel Thornton on January 1, 2021 at 9:50 am

      Fortitude is a great word! As for used kitty litter, I put some out last night. Probably won’t know for a few days if it really worked. Will report back!

  7. Janet Barclay on December 30, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Hazel, this is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. Like everyone else, I’ve been eagerly waiting for this year to be over, but now that it nearly is, I’m painfully aware that we are still in a very scary place.

    You are so right about the many silver linings. I’ve seen and made a lot of positive changes and hope we can maintain many of them when we do finally get through this. Maybe we all need a bit more time to figure that out before it ends.

    Take care, my friend.

    • Hazel Thornton on January 1, 2021 at 9:55 am

      I think we’ve all had silver linings — and recognizing them falls in the category of gratitude. I can’t say I’ve made positive changes….yet….but I’ve been treading water, and I do recognize a good silver lining when I see it!

  8. Sue Duval on January 2, 2021 at 8:21 am

    Loved this post so much. Just what I needed! My husband and I loved the West Wing and started rewatching it recently with our college-aged kids so I also appreciate the “What’s Next” reference! Wishing you a happy ad healthy 2021!

    • Hazel Thornton on January 4, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Thanks, Sue!

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