Estimated reading time: 4 mins
This essay was originally sent through my newsletter – INTERMITTENT INSIGHTS
2020 was intense for me.
No doubt, there were a lot of lessons to be drawn out of this turmoil.
Here are some of the main ones:
1. Move Towards Fear
The most valuable things I did this year were all a result of facing my fears.
I was terrified of quitting my job, but doing so allowed me to deepen my spiritual practice, explore my curiosities, learn new skills, and figure out a (maybe temporary) direction for my life. It also forced me to face another one of my fears: putting myself out there and start writing online.
Again, directly confronting what I was afraid of rewarded me. Internally, I learned to care less about what others think, plus it felt great to improve my writing and share my thoughts with the world. Externally, it led me to connect with talented people and join a few great online communities.
This year, I’ll be more intentional about sensing my fears and moving towards them (without putting myself in physical danger of course).
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Joseph Campbell
2. Community is Essential
I used to take pride in my ability to spend time on my own. It gave me a sense of strength and independence. But surprisingly, this year, I started realizing the invaluable benefits of being in a community.
When I was in Vietnam, I joined an in-person Mastermind group of conscious, digital nomads. I noticed that meeting with that group was often the most energizing thing I did in the week. As I started getting involved in online communities I saw a similar boost in my energy.
These experiences also made me realize that community is an essential component of personal or spiritual growth. We all have blindspots, which by definition we can’t see. That’s why it’s so important to have a loving community that points them out to us and helps us deal with them.
This year, I plan to make community a more important part of my life.
3. Twitter is a Connection-Building Tool
2020 was the year I started using Twitter. I’m not gonna lie, at first, I got sucked into the status/followers game. The algorithm’s addictive mechanism was starting to influence me.
But then, as I got more involved with the people I met, I realized that Twitter’s real value lies in the connections it provides. Twitter is full of talented and inspiring people; connecting with some of them already led to many fascinating conversations, great book recommendations, possible collaborations, friendships and even job opportunities.
Lessons for my future self:
Be careful of the algorithm’s addictive nature.
Be genuine, kind, and focus on the people.
4. Taking Time Off is Underrated
When I quit my job last year I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
My job was in the online business industry. I was immersed in that reality-tunnel, so I was sure I wanted to be an online creator/entrepreneur.
As a side effect of quitting my job though, I had more time to freely follow my curiosity. With time, I started moving away from online business and I noticed my burning passion for sustainability starting to emerge again. I was able to dive deep into it and realize how much ecology is connected to systems thinking and spirituality. I’m so excited about the intersection of these fields that I can’t help but get involved.
If I hadn’t quit my job it is unlikely that I would have had the time to reignite this passion of mine, which would have been a shame because I’m so pumped.
I already wrote about the value of taking some time once in a while to assess one’s direction, but here I mean something different. An extended amount of time with no particular schedule, allowing yourself to follow (and discover) your interests (similar to Tim Ferriss’ idea of mini-retirement)
5. Love Rewards the Lover More than the Loved
The common idea is that a person who loves is weak; he/she *needs* the other person to be happy and *depends* on him/her.
In my opinion/experience, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
As I deepened my meditation practice and started feeling my sensations more fully, I noticed that Loving my (now ex) girlfriend made me feel great. Loving made me stronger, not weaker.
Neediness cannot be an aspect of this kind of love. To me, acting from a place of Love means giving unrelentlessly without asking anything in return, because giving and loving are already inherently fulfilling.
Other Lessons Learned
- Health gains really compound
- Online courses can be really powerful
- Detachment from results can improve performance
- Pain sparks growth
- Byron Katie’s The Work is a really powerful practice
- The “self” is a construction, a story we tell
- All judgment is self-judgment
What about you? What were the main lessons you learned this year?
Until next time.