Don’t Say Goodbye to 2020 Just Yet
We all know we’ll never forget 2020, but most of us may one day be surprised at how much of 2020 is lost to the fog of memory.
I noticed this as I was completing my 2020 annual review. When it came time to list all the memories and milestones from April-June, I had a difficult time remembering where that time went.
In Off the Clock, Laura Vanderkam explains that routine is a double-edged sword. Without routine, there would be know novelty, but too much routine lets your brain consolidate memories. So 200 mornings stuck at home in a quarantine become one morning in your mind. As Vanderkam puts it: “When enough sameness like this stacks up, whole years disappear into memory sinkholes.”
2020 is in danger of becoming a memory sinkhole. You’ll remember what happened in the news, but over the next few years you’ll struggle to recall what happened in your life. Some memories are likely already lost forever.
One timely strategy for salvaging 2020 is to complete an annual review. This year, the most critical part of the review is listing your moments and milestones. Ask yourself questions like what made this year different? Or What did I accomplish this year?
Writing these moments down is one of the best ways to turn them into memories, and memories are the key to not losing a year of your life to a mental sinkhole.
For me, 2020 won’t just be remembered as the year COVID hit, but the year we got the house painted, the year I went apple picking, the year I successfully completed an extended fast, the year my oldest kids started riding bikes, and the year my youngest child got her first tooth.
As you go forward, you can prevent memory sinkholes and cultivate a sense of being time-rich by pursuing micro-adventures. Find some small way to intentionally deviate from your normal routine and revel in the spontaneity. Bonus points if you write it down. Try using a technique developed by storyteller Matthew Dicks called “homework for life”: Each day ask yourself why today was different than any other day and write the answer in a notebook in just one or two sentences.
Time is precious, and it is always slipping away. If you want to feel “time rich,” you can’t simply live in the moment. You need to stretch your perception of past time through memory, and of future time through anticipation.
Complete your own annual review and you can discover all the reasons why 2020 is worth remembering.