Hello fellow learn-it-all,
Greetings from snowy Chicago ❄
️It's been such a fun week welcoming in the new year and taking in time with family. I've been attempting to have more play instead of constant productivity. This letter is going to be briefer as I have deliberately minimized my screen time for time outdoors (photos included at the end). It's harder than you think being brought up in such a motivated family.
Without a doubt 2020 has rocked the boat. Life got shaken up, where things that seemed impossible became possible. It became a forcing function to question our lives more than ever before.
It's been a complex year with ups and downs, but above all a year to reflect and appreciate the most important things in life, which we usually take for granted. It's made me realize what I am truly grateful for: health, family, wellness, the people we love. Hopefully, 2021 brings new horizons and new projects but above all the essentials: health, relationships, growth, learning, and creativity.
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Now, let’s dive into letter 41 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
✉️ Reminder to open your letters
Back in Letter 27, I added an exercise as a call to action for you all to write a letter to your future self.
But first, why did I ask this of each of you?
This challenge was a way to pause before the fall and winter flew by. Its purpose was to put your best foot forward in the new year by capturing memories, thoughts, feelings, and learnings from 2020. Plus, it will be a nice gift to yourself at the start of 2021.
You don't know what to write about? The audience is for yourself so don't limit yourself. Here are some questions to kickstart the process for you:
- What do you want to remember about 2020 thus far? Where do you hope to be this time in 2021?
- Who have you met and how have they impacted you?
- How have your values, priorities, and beliefs changed?
- What struggles have you overcome and learned from them? How have you felt overall?
- What hobbies do you want to move up in your "eventually do" list?
- What do you wish were different?
- What wins have you accomplished on your projects, at work, and in relationships?
Coincidentally, I wrote three letters to my future self at around the quarter marks of this past year that I recently opened. In the next part of this letter, I'll share the letter I wrote at the start of the pandemic. Wowzers, quite meta to have a letter within a letter 🤯.
As I just mentioned I had the privilege of time travel. I journeyed back in time to the state of mind I was in before going back to Michigan to quarantine for the pandemic on March 15.
You probably can't make out my chicken scratch all too well. I'll share some impressions here from it:
I feel like I was quite foolish that I thought the quarantine would only be a week. I packed barely any clothes when I left.
I had to console myself by hoping that I could postpone my April flight to Amsterdam to the summer because I was so looking forward to my reunion.
Denial sank in for feeling more guilt than ever before with making any decision.
Starting to question how in-person interactions will be different moving forward.
To stay optimistic in these doomful days, I listed ten things I am grateful for. They surely manifested themselves and became things I relied on heavily.
I'll list them out here with additional context:
Job stability from being able to work from home (despite later getting laid off)
Stepping up to upskill and train the company in collaboration tools like Zoom and Sharepoint (Thank goodness for Zoom 🙌)
Being able to drive home to see my family and pets (rather than risking exposure on the train or Megabus)
Getting safety and support to not have to stress about the basic necessities (toilet paper and basic groceries)
Extra time to focus on reading and writing to launch my first newsletter
Being able to send snail mail
Picking my hobbies back up (piano, crafts like making jewelry, painting, origami, playing around on iMovie)
The Internet to stay in touch with my distant dutch family
Last but not least ONLINE CLASSES
To wrap this up, I want to share why I am going to continue to write my future self letters like these. I had a breakthrough today on why I find this so fulfilling.
These letters have been a part of my self-love practice this past year while simultaneously jumpstarting my mindset to reflect on what has happened. My love language (the way I like to receive love) is words of affirmation. This means that I highly value reading supportive words as opposed to receiving a gift, or act of service. There are five love languages based on Gary Chapman's book and you can take an assessment to find out your own here.
I have been processing my annual reflection. It is still far from complete.
These things take time. It's hard to press go and just magically have everything percolate on command like a genie asking for wishes. I am shooting to share highlights next week with you. In the meantime…
Four thoughts while reflecting
1. The dichotomy has surfaced where I ask myself what is the ideal ratio of "being" versus "becoming"? I fear that if we are always trying to become something that we are not, then we do not enjoy the present. The growth orientation of constantly striving can backfire here.
2. While re-reading old journal entries from this past year, I realized that I don't review ideas enough. I want to be more cognizant of this in the future. It tends to seem boring to reread that old book or relisten to a podcast, but it's so powerful to crystallize ideas.
3. It's easy to think that grief is the same as gloom, but I don't agree. The gift of life itself is to appreciate what you have. Loss is a reminder of this. So when you have a fear of missing out (aka FOMO), remember that at least you recognize what you could be missing out on in the first place. That concert that got canceled. That company that made cuts. That family wedding that got postponed.
4. I am hesitant to create New Year’s Resolutions. I've been thinking about what we should resolve to do instead of changing ourselves every year.
🔎 Word to define
Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something
The act, operation, or process of resolving. Specifically: (a) The act of separating a compound into its elements or component parts. (b) The act of analyzing a complex notion, or solving a vexed question or difficult problem.; a settled purpose; determination.
Etymology: late Middle English: from Latin resolution and from resolvere meaning to ‘loosen, release’
Example: Let's make a resolution to not make new year's resolutions!
🌟 Quote to inspire
"The mind is everything. What you think you become." -Buddha
💭 Question to ponder
What do you hope 2021 has in store for you?
📷 Photos of the Week
I got my cardio in with some family and friends going up and down this sledding hill countless times. The races were a hoot, so much that we managed to wreck two of the sleds. There was this jump where we all kept hitting and getting major air. I'm just glad I didn't get another concussion as 10-year-old Jen did.
I hit the slopes with my siblings for a couple of days. The warming hut was closed, so it became a challenge to see how long we could stay warm without getting frostbitten fingers and toes. The first day we made it 4 hours and the second day to 6 hours. I truly felt like I was in sync with the Wim Hof Method.
To Nate Kadlac for planting the seed for me to potentially adding an audio version to these letters.
I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet.
Never stop learning 😁
Until next week,
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