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  • Courtney Stanley

Hindsight will be 2020

Wow, what a year. Much like you, 2020 did not happen the way I thought (or planned) it would. As an ecstatic goal-setter, I love kicking off a new year with that fresh mindset momentum, ready to totally crush the days ahead. I also relish in the moments of intentional reflection at the end of the year, where we look back at our progress and everything that happened in our lives.


This year, however, feels very different. The intensity and unpredictability of 2020 has left me feeling mostly exhausted, but also quite proud. During a normal year, I wouldn't be left feeling so drained. But this year... this year really tested my strength, my character, and my willingness to evolve. And evolve, I did.


Today I made a list of every curveball, loss, and adversity I faced over these past 12 months. Then I made a list of every outcome I hustled for, sweat over, and achieved. This was no ordinary year, my friends, and I know I'm not alone in feeling the weight - and now relief - of it all.


Because I'm a huge believer in vulnerability, transparency, and the power of sharing our stories with one another, I'd like to share a little bit about these past 365 days with you. My hope is that you find something in my experiences that will inspire you as you move into your own next chapter, or, at the very least, help you to feel that you weren't alone in this trying year. So, here we go:


One year ago, I quit my job. Feeling like I wasn't even beginning to tap into my potential while working for someone else, I decided to turn my side hustle of public speaking and career coaching into a full-time, entrepreneurial venture. I knew it was a risk, but my side hustle had been going well for a while, and looking at a handful of the contracts I had already booked in the coming year, it felt safe enough, financially speaking, to make the leap.


So leap, I did. What I didn't realize, is how blindly I was jumping into what would be the most economically challenging year ever for the live events industry. What I couldn't see, plan, or predict - was a global pandemic that would last more than a year and corrupt nearly all business exchange in my world.


This past March, I lost 80% of my contracted income for the year. In June, I lost the final 20%.


Also in June, I received a phone call from my mom telling me that my dad was having a heart attack. To date, that has been the most terrifying phone call I have ever received. Thankfully, he recovered and is living a much healthier lifestyle now. He is, however, a public school teacher, which as many people understand, has been one of the most stressful occupations this year, especially for those who are older or immune-compromised.


A couple of months later, my mom called to tell me that my grandpa, her dad, had passed away in his assisted living facility. Due to COVID-19, we were unable to host a memorial service for him.


Believe it or not, there were three more serious health crises that took place in my immediate family before the end of the 2020.


Between the financial stress and family drama, my mental health and sense of safety and stability were truly stretched to new limits.


But it's when we're pushed with our backs up against the wall that we have to decide: will we succumb to the hardship - or - will we embrace the struggle and fight with everything we have to create stability and wellness for ourselves?

With the encouragement of a few close friends and family members, I chose to fight. I chose the hustle. I chose to lean into the pains of growth and build a stronger version of myself. It was brutal at times and left me feeling absolutely exhausted, but it paid off, and I am no longer the same woman I was at the beginning of the year.


From August to December, I earned back every single penny I'd lost, meeting my original financial goals for the year.


I started therapy, something I'd been saying I'd "consider someday" for years. I learned more about myself, the areas I want to grow into, and how to better manage my ongoing battle with anxiety. I've learned more about myself this year than I ever have, and that, my friends, is an amazing gift. If you have ever thought about trying therapy, I highly recommend it. It is the best gift you will ever give yourself.


Even with the gyms closed, I lost 10 pounds of excess weight. I purposefully focused on my diet, my water intake, and my movement. Prioritizing your physical wellbeing is critical to improving your overall mental health. Running and outdoor yoga became forms of active meditation and completely transformed my immediate mindset. Being outside is a gift. If you live in a warm climate all year round, I envy you from snowy Michigan!


I launched this website, something I've been saying I'll do for the past four years! I also launched my first newsletter (join my VIP List here) and my podcast with Meetings Today, Dare to Interrupt, which gave me an opportunity to connect with and inspire people I care about. Additionally, I hired two amazing young women to intern for me, and collaborating with them has reinvigorated my creative juices. Collaboration makes a world of difference, my friends! Get out there and start connecting with your community. That will also help you to get out of any weird mental funk you're experiencing.


I share a few of these ups and downs with you because I believe that it is entirely possible to transform any setback in life into your most powerful comeback. I believe that there is always, always a lesson to be learned and a silver lining to seize. I believe that for many of us, hindsight will be the year 2020. It will have been a defining moment, a fork in the road, and a new launchpad for our next - and even more meaningful - chapter in life. I know this will be true for me.


So I encourage you to reflect on the challenges you've faced this year and write down every single battle you fought - and won. Acknowledge your hustle. Embrace your evolution. Then pop a damn bottle of champagne and celebrate yourself.


Tomorrow is not just the start of a new year. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new you. Cheers to our survival and evolution, my friends. We are strong and we are resilient.


PS - want some help setting your strategic goals for 2021? Join my complimentary virtual workshop, Reflect+Reset: Creating New Year, New You Momentum! I'd love to see you there.


Happy New Year!


Contact me to lead, inspire, or facilitate a game-changing conversation for your next in-person or virtual conference or event.



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