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Lessons Learnt From 2020

When we seek clarity, what do we do?


- We ask for help so we can brainstorm our ideas.

- We listen to podcasts/ read books.


Clarity and motivation are an internal process however sometimes external resources facilitate and accelerate the result.


One of the things I do is get it from people that inspire me. One of these people is my sister-in-law, Maria.


Maria is a former journalist, content director, and impressionist artist. She is also a single mum to a beautiful 8 year-old girl, my niece Aida.


I asked Maria to share with me her experience in 2020 and what she learnt from this year.


As a coach, I care about setting goals, but I wanted to take the time to pause and reflect on what were the main messages from 2020 from people that have something special to say.


Most of my clients are female entrepreneurs and they are facing issues around confidence, clarity, purpose, goal setting, and time management, amongst other things.


Maria has some important things to say about 2020, and where she stands before the new year.

Watch the video below to hear our talk, and check out our Q&A further down too:



Q&A with Maria Khan:

1. What is your greatest learning or realization that you had this challenging year?


That Mental health is important. Anxiety and panic attacks are real, and there is no shame in talking about your mental challenges and asking for help. Also, physical health – making a checklist so you eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep... the same applies to mental health – having a few people around me who I can trust and depend on, having a healthy work-life balance, so that whenever it's possible for you to switch off from work, you really switch off; and lastly, practicing mindfulness: for me, I found a new love in running in the outdoors.


Other realizations were letting go of 'what has happened' and living in the present. Decluttering my mind and avoiding overthinking about situations, decisions, and experiences that serve little positive value to you. This sort of ties in with my next learning, which is inspired by the book The Courage To Be Disliked, and it’s all about recalibrating our lives by identifying our life tasks and detangling ourselves from others’ tasks. For me, this means Self-care - taking care of myself first, and making peace with the fact that you can’t be everything for everyone. It's important to say “NO” when and where you have to – for me, it was difficult at first, but this year I had to miss out on one of my best friend’s wedding for instance. I did not feel comfortable attending the event and I chose not to go, and I accepted the decision and did not feel the need to justify it. Avoiding overthinking about decisions is also a big part of self-care, as is setting boundaries – especially when it comes to professional work!


2. What do you want to keep for 2021?


All of the positive learnings from 2020, and extending those to others wherever possible, so for instance, lending a listening ear to friends and family members struggling with anxiety, or fears of some sort, and checking in with them regularly. Being present in the lives of people most important to me. Also, giving back to the community – so for instance, this year I volunteered to be the parent rep in my daughter’s class, and whenever we would bake a cake or cookies or tried fancy Pakistani recipes, we would leave a little food package outside my 85 year-old neighbour’s door, and that just felt so good!


Remembering to take care of myself and listen to my own needs is also important, and not being too hard on myself in trying to fulfill everyone’s tasks. And also asking for help – I need to do more of that!

3. What do I want to get rid of?


The clutter at home and in my mind – anything that doesn’t bring me joy Marie Kondo style – I tried that too! Also, overuse of social media – I need to remember to live in the real world and use social media recreationally only. Generally, also the overconsumption and addiction of anything.


4. What is you Main perspective to take away from 2020?


Remembering to distinguish between necessities and luxuries: the real necessities are the basic things in life – starting from the people in our life, our family and beautiful friendships – to the home we live in, the food we eat, the air we breathe... really prioritizing the basic things. To put time into basic necessities of life!


Also, taking a step back to check-in on myself: am I happy in my job? Am I happy in a relationship? Is this friendship just a friendship on social media or on the phone? And not getting comfortable in situations that are unhealthy for us.


Sharing challenges is another one - it is easier to overcome fears and challenges when we share them. We have seen that this year. People dancing to TikTok choreographed moves. People sharing new recipes. We can achieve so much together. When you share a challenge you find a way out of it more easily. Irony: we were all in one bubble. Identifying people going through the same situation can be very helpful and you don't have to follow their path. We can all agree to disagree. We are all different. We can co-exist with all the differences and difference of opinions too.


To get in touch with Maria, please find the links below:

Follow her on Twitter @mariayzk | Connect with her on LinkedIn | Sample her art on Instagram




PS: Here are some more answers from my amazing clients on what they have learnt in 2020. How about you, can you add to this list?


" 2020 taught me:

  • That to look forward, you have got to look behind.

  • That we need each other.

  • Patience.

  • What’s most important to me.

  • That Less is More.

  • Resilience.

  • More control over my emotions.

  • To Slow down.

  • That the body needs time to heal. To be kind to yourself.

  • That there are Amazing people out there.

  • Community matters.

  • To Learn from others more.

  • To Trust others more.

  • To Love the people that are helping me more.

  • How much a slower pace was ok and needed.

  • To Give gratitude to people that are close to you.

  • That we needed to do something about diversity and inclusion in our home, with our friends and at work.

  • To act now.

  • To look for silver linings in things that are difficult and outside of our control.

  • Perspective.

  • To say NO - and focus on what gives us energy.

  • To have confidence in my body as it fights Covid-19.

  • To somehow adapt my business.

  • To be able to handle more things under pressure.

  • To enjoy my own company and my husband's…

  • To accept things as they were.

  • To accept the mess, as it's ok.

  • To face my fear of going 100% online - to then loving it!

  • To love working from home

  • To be able to be with family more, and learning it could also be fun.

  • To change priorities in my personal life.

  • To seek happiness in the moments.

  • To let go of things that matter, in order to do things that matter most... "

I think my favourite part was learning that there is a difference between necessities and luxury, and to learn to let go of things that matter, in order to do things that matter most. I believe they are both very similar.


What is your lesson from 2020? Please share it with me!

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