‘I am proud to say I have achieved absolutely nothing this year’

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  • Does the end of this 'unprecedented' year see you ticking off your 2020 achievements? Well done, says Kerry Parnell, but don’t judge the pandemic plodders

    I don’t mean to humblebrag, but I am hashtag blessed. It’s taken a lot of commitment to end the year pretty much as I started it, but then, when you consider the nightmare 2020 has been, I’d say that’s something to celebrate. As the year draws to an end, gird yourselves for a flood of “what my 2020 achievements taught me” confessional pieces from people who made triumphant pandemic pivots and discovered the meaning of life.

    But not from me, I didn’t get any 2020 vision: no insights at all, no learnings, no achievements. I just took it day by day until the days eventually ran out and here we are.

    Lockdown motivators go away

    When we first went into lockdown at the year’s start and those irritating motivators popped up saying if we didn’t all come out of it with a new talent, language, or business idea we were losers, I was steaming. And that was when we thought it would be just a few weeks.

    When you’re flat out with a pandemic potpourri of home-schooling, working and living, I think you can be excused for not having any availability to learn Flemish, master the mandolin, become a mumpreneur and turn your side hustle into a billion-pound business or attend webinars by the multiplying breed of coaches currently making millions from telling you how to make millions. Actually, there’s an idea – maybe I can make nothing from becoming a demotivator.

    Find your happy level

    Lockdown I and II didn’t see me so much as Marie Kondo my knicker drawer. I had plenty of business ideas, but actioned none of them, didn’t write a word of my blockbuster novel, held zero date-night dinners for Instagram likes and did not perform Family von Trapp-style for TikTok fame. I did, however, eat a lot of biscuits and earned plenty of pounds on the scales for that endeavour, which is an achievement of sorts.

    And so now, as I look back on the year that was, I can conclude I haven’t moved on at all. 2020 achievements? Nothing to declare here. And I’m fine with that.

    To be honest, there is something under-rated about the ability to just be. To find a level you are happy with and stay there, quietly – if only for a little while. Why do we feel the need to achieve things all the time, anyway? If you continually set yourself targets, you’re never happy; once you hit them, you just raise the bar even higher. Who needs it.

    Sameness can be a good thing

    It all depends on your definition of productivity – I am full of admiration for those who have spent the year achieving great things, like starting successful businesses, getting fit, following their dreams and taking career and life swerves.

    Lots of my friends have done just that and I’m genuinely very pleased for them. But at the same time, lots have lost their health, their jobs, businesses and relationships. So really, if you’ve managed to survive 2020 with any kind of income and any kind of sanity, then that’s a year well lived.

    Sameness can be a good thing, if you accept it’s not forever. I’ve never learnt to meditate and didn’t during lockdown because, obviously, I couldn’t be bothered, but I think accepting the repetition of life at the moment is a form of meditation in itself. It’s quite calming to simplify your existence down to the basics and allow yourself to just go with the flow, for a little while, anyway. Not being able to go anywhere or do anything this year has been liberating in a perverse way.

    Plus, it’s not as though I did nothing all year. I watched a lot of telly. And read loads of books. I even finished The Lord of the Rings, which qualifies for some kind of award, although that will be my first and last foray into fantasy. Reality – even this boring one – is enough for me. My life consists of taking the kids to school, working, going on long walks, baking cakes and shouting at The Crown.

    I have realised I don’t need anything else – and that, perhaps, is the greatest learning of all.

    * Kerry Parnell curates the hottest royal news every week, sign up to her newsletter The Royal List. She is a royal correspondent for The Sunday Telegraph, Sydney and News Corp Australia

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