There’s no doubt that 2020 put our resilience to the test—it pushed our boundaries, transformed our relationships, and caused us to see life from a different perspective.

While many of us are eager to close this chapter of our lives, there’s also a lot that we’ve learned—about ourselves, about others, and about what really matters.

We asked you, our meQ Community, what you’d like to take away from 2020 and carry with you into 2021. And your answers were inspiring, uplifting, and even brought us to tears. We are grateful for your openness, authenticity, and honesty.

Here’s what you had to say:

1. Savor the small stuff. 

“The hidden lesson of the pandemic is to focus on the things that matter most. My true legacy is my family and being able to slow down and enjoy the small moments with my children has been the most valuable lesson. We’ve started traditions of family walks, pizza and movie nights, family dinners, and incredible conversations. COVID-19 reminds me that tomorrow is not guaranteed and every moment with loved ones is to be appreciated. That’s why we call today the present—a GIFT.”

Erin, Director, Flex Staffing, Rockville, MD

“At the end of 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 45, and it rocked my world. So my takeaways were on many levels—my faith is at the top and what carried me through, but I am grateful for all that I have. We are not promised tomorrow,   so live each day to the fullest doing whatever makes you happy and surround yourself with people who love and support you.”

Jennifer, Sales Manager, Nashville, TN

2. We are stronger than we think. 

“2020 showed me that I am both strong, and flexible. When I was furloughed, I had to adjust my focus. I leaned into what I could control—my health, wellness, and spirituality. I created a Furlough Fitness Facebook page for 850 of my colleagues who also found themselves with ‘extra time.’ It kept our culture strong. Fortunate to return to work, my renewed sense of energy makes me better prepared to lead my team for whatever is ahead.”

Caroline, Area Sales Leader, Portland, OR

“My biggest lesson learned is around RESILIENCE, in all its forms. Mental, physical, emotional, and financial capacities were stretched this year. My ability to bounce back, demonstrate flexibility, focus on the positives, and persevere, all while allowing myself and others around me some grace during times like these is what makes me a stronger mom, wife, caregiver, colleague, and all-around survivor! Bring on 2021!”

Emmy, Human Resources Business Partner, San Antonio, TX

3. Slow down. 

“This year has been dominated by uncertainty. My coping method was to slow down, breathe, and reflect. Reflecting on the good times, the bad times, and also taking a moment to reflect and be grateful for what I do have.”

—Nathan, Associate, London, UK

“I loved the slower pace of 2020, which allowed for the gift of focus. Going forward, I plan to continue to be intentional with what is added to my schedule at work and home. I want my children, and others I work with, to see me as a role model for intentional use of time. There is always time for anything we choose; the key is to own the choice! The pace of 2020 really allowed me to understand this—what a gift in a crisis!”

Paula, HR Manager, Mehoopany, PA

“As a working mom, I find I can miss a lot of the small moments with my son if I’m not mindful, particularly now when boundaries are so blurred between work, school, and home. Carving out that time to connect with my son has been incredibly important. I remind myself to be in the moment and to enjoy.”

Joanne, Product Communications Strategist, Westborough, MA

4. Self-care is non-negotiable. 

“The main takeaway from 2020 for me is that I always come first. I have to be brave enough to make the decisions that are best for me. If I take care of myself, everyone around me will be better, too.”

—Mariana, Service Manager, San Jose, Costa Rica

“The lesson I learned from 2020 was that proper self-care starts with strong boundaries. Setting healthy boundaries has helped me manage stress, have a good work-life balance, maintain my physical well-being, and evaluate my relationships. I believe this is a life-long skill, but worthy of the courage it takes to pursue. Others benefit from the boundaries I set by gaining the freedom to set their own.”

Christina, Executive Assistant, Washington, DC

5. Cherish connections with others.  

“My takeaway from 2020 is to cherish every relationship—family, friends, and coworkers.  Extend kindness to every person you encounter. A card, phone call, and/or lending an ear can make a world of difference in cases of loss and isolation. Losing a grandson, sister, and father within a two-month period confirmed the importance of cultivating positive relationships. Once a person is gone, the chance of having ‘no regrets’ is gone forever.”

Olivia, Energy Asset Manager, Chicago, IL

“This year has taught me not to take my loved ones for granted. So many have lost someone this year, including myself. It is so easy to get caught in the day-to-day life of going to work and taking care of the home, we sometimes forget that all it takes is one phone call. A simple “I love you” goes a long way, especially in a time when we can’t give a hug to comfort our loved ones in their time of need.”

Shunté, AB, Las Vegas, NV

6. Change is an ongoing process.  

“I learned several important lessons in 2020 but the biggest is: Change is a process, not an event! Let the change evolve, grow into the change, and see the change as an opportunity. How we respond to change is just as important. As the saying goes, ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.’ No matter what is happening in your life: stay positive, look for the good, and be a blessing to others.”

Theresa, Associate Project Manager, Boyertown, PA

7. Empathy matters. 

“I think the biggest thing I learned this year was the importance of respecting other people’s feelings. As a strong personality, in the past, I’ve tried to change others or to at least challenge their way of thinking. This year has taught me that we really need to just let people have their space and respect how they feel.”

—Sheryl, Marketing Manager, Philadelphia, PA

“As an active and outgoing person with a busy agenda and a life full of travel and people development, I never took enough time to really understand people and their individual needs. 2020 has taught me the meaning of empathy and provided me with patience to listen, the ability to be there for others, and provide emotional support for friends, family, and employees alike.”

—Janet, Director of Talent Programs, Eschborn, Germany

8. Remember to breathe. 

“I learned to Trap It, Map It, and Zap It. Then came March 2020. Alone at home, I found that I was slow to Trap It. I spent more time indulging in punishing my mistakes and entertaining extreme failure scenarios. Eventually, I learned to breathe at the first sign of trouble. Breathe is right on my meQuilibrium phone app. Three or four breaths and I remember all the reasons why the present situation is not as bad as I imagined only seconds ago. I’m calm, rational, and ready to find a solution.”

—Adrienne, Senior Data Management Consultant, Ann Arbor, MI