2020. What sucked and what didn’t

2020 was a year like no other. It took away our certainty that we had control. It caused immense distress and suffering and tragic deaths. But it taught us so much. As a Melbourne based company, we have been at the coalface of the Australian COVID experience and so we asked our team to tell us what they thought sucked in 2020 and what didn’t. Here’s a list of all the challenges they listed – and many of you will have also experienced them – followed by a list of things they learned to appreciate, respect and got inspiration from.

What sucked.

  • The bushfires that devastated so much of Australia: the appalling loss of life, homes, businesses and our iconic wildlife.
  • Watching the terrifying scenes in Wuhan, as it went into a forced lockdown and then watching with paralysing inevitability, as COVID-19 spread through the world and ultimately to our shores.
  • The panic and fear as the Prime Minister basically told us that they were planning for six months of business hibernation and social shut down.
  • The toilet paper scramble where the selfishness of some people meant that many of our vulnerable – especially older people – were unable to access this basic necessity.
  • The abuse of supermarket workers as they tried to civilly manage the uncivilised.
  • The increase in racism.
  • The increase in anxiety.
  • The loss of jobs, the reduction in incomes, the closure of so many of our vibrant cafes and restaurants. The closing of gyms.
  • The closing of schools and universities, the disruption of education for so many.
  • Home schooling. Well maybe this is a 50/50 as to whether it sucked or not. But anecdotally it was hard on parents – many of whom were working and juggling this essential activity.
  • The loss of our physical connection to families – of grandparents to grandchildren as the older people in our community had to retreat to protect themselves.
  • The loss of our physical connection to our colleagues – our team.
  • The physical loss of our friendship circles.
  • The loss of sport as an activity and a supportive tribe.
  • The distress of business leaders as they struggled to save jobs and keep their businesses afloat.
  • The Zoom room.
  • The second wave (for Victorians) seeing the numbers climbing, being locked down in extremely restrictive circumstances as we watched the case numbers reach 700 a day.
  • The ravaging of those in aged care by the virus.
  • The loss of freedoms – a curfew, a 5km travel restriction, a rule to wear masks. All for a good reason, and followed willingly by the majority of people, but still knowing that we had lost freedoms, taken for granted for so long.
  • The fear of people.
  • The border closures, the division of Australia – the inability to travel interstate (and overseas)
  • The politics. Sometimes it’s more important to work together than point score. The pandemic was one such occasion but unfortunately not everyone got the memo.
  • The media’s lack of integrity when reporting. Not all outlets, but a section that worked to divide, to sensationalise, to create clickbait for revenue and political ideology.

The silver linings in 2020

  • JobSeeker and JobKeeper – providing people with an income to survive and businesses with a way to keep people employed.
  • The inspirational bravery and dedication of our doctors, nurses, aged care workers.
  • Working from home. More productive, saved so much time not commuting, saved on travel costs and childcare.
  • More time spent with family during lockdown – closer connections formed, relationships tested and strengthened.
  • People finding ways to connect – talking to grandparents through closed windows, placing their palms against each other with glass separating them.
  • Companies found ways to innovate and survive – they adapted and changed at a rapid rate never dreamed of previously.
  • There was an opportunity for businesses to re-set, to plot a course for growth and long-term profitability.
  • Businesses were given the opportunity to trial a virtual workplace with proven benefits for employers and employees.
  • Mental health was given the attention it deserves.
  • The random acts of kindness – the treats dropped in people’s letterboxes; the people who would collect prescriptions, and offer supplies for those who couldn’t risk leaving home; doing shopping for neighbours.
  • Online shopping (but delivery times have to go in the “What sucked” column!)
  • Netflix, Stan and Disney streaming channels.
  • Slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life.
  • Exploring the local neighbourhood on walks.
  • More time for walking the dog and exercising.
  • The ability to re-evaluate your life – the treadmill you’d been on – and work out what was important.
  • Gratitude for living in a country that had the health system to care for me and my family.
  • The opportunity to work and help other businesses implement survival strategies.
  • My technology skills exploded.
  • Government project funds to enable big picture thinking and growth in the new job sectors of the future.
  • The Zoom room and the way we could connect as a tribe, supporting each other in a safe virtual circle.
  • Keeping my job and feeling fulfilled in the work I do.
  • Homeless people were provided with shelter (in Victoria).
  • That society and businesses have had radical change forced on them that would normally take decades, and we can now move forward knowing that people can adapt.
  • The awesome spirit of humankind.
  • The brilliant scientists around the world working on a vaccine.
  • The mental wellbeing sessions that were provided by so many organisations.
  • The time to focus on other projects.
  • New hobbies were explored.
  • The feeling of pride in what we have achieved as Victorians in eliminating the virus from our community.

Yes, 2020 has been a year out of the box in its challenges and the unique lessons learned. Here’s hoping that 2021 is a wonderful year for everyone and that our forced re-set in 2020 lets us all move forward with optimism, and a higher bar as to what is achievable.