Another eventful and challenging year is coming to a close. And as we look back on what has been a turbulent 2021, we acknowledge that the year may not have met all of the hopes we had coming out of 2020.
With a tireless virus, political and social turmoil, and disruptions to our economy, no one is immune to the gravity of challenges our world continues to face.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all bad.
Amidst all the hardships, people from around the world have assembled to find impactful solutions and make enormous progress. 2021 has brought billions of vaccines, the reopening of borders, and reunions with loved ones for the first time in years.
So, for a change of pace, we wanted to focus on the positives of the year.
To help us do so, we asked 207 folks to reflect on the joyful moments and lessons they learned in 2021– and what they’re looking forward to in the new year.
Their answers shed light on how, in many ways, this year has brought us together, revealed fundamental truths, and set the stage for new beginnings.
The Fundamental Joys: Family, Friends and Health
When we asked what brought people joy in 2021, there was a clear consensus that the simple–but essential–things in life are what they valued the most.
In our survey, each respondent shared a personal source of joy and were asked to agree or disagree with answers provided by others.
The most supported answer was “Family”, which was agreed upon by 87% of the crowd. More specifically, respondents expressed that they were grateful “That all my family is okay” (84% support) and for “Being able to spend time with family” (75% support).
Similarly, many were joyful for “Spending time with friends” (69% support).
Others indicated that long-awaited reunions brought them joy this year, namely “Being able to [see] relatives since travel restrictions were eased” (57% support). This response points to the thousands of families that have been separated due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Thankfully, many are reuniting as certain restrictions let up in time for the holidays.
Another major theme, rightfully so, was the joy of good health. 78% of respondents agreed that “Health” brought them joy this year and were appreciative of “Being healthy and happy” (74% support). Others noted the joy and significance of “The fact that I still breathe, waking up [in the] morning” (75% support).
Some were joyful for “Learning new milestones” (59%) and despite all the challenges, the majority agreed that “So far I am still hopeful for the future” (73%).
What has brought you joy this year?
Lessons Learned in 2021
While respondents were able to find powerful sources of joy throughout the year, they were also undoubtedly faced with challenges and setbacks. As we navigate these kinds of obstacles, there are often lessons we pick up along the way.
Now that the year is coming to an end, we asked individuals to reflect on one positive lesson they have learned from 2021.
The overwhelming majority agreed that they learned to “Value all the time you share with family” (89% support) and “Value life” (87% support). Many also referenced the unpredictability of the year, stating that they learned to “Live life to the fullest because it can change in a matter of minutes” (84% support).
Other impactful lessons pointed towards the personal growth respondents have experienced in 2021.
One person stated that they learned “It’s ok to be different” which was supported by 76% of respondents. Other lessons included “To respect everyone I come into contact with” (74%), “To be more patient” (73%), and the ever-important reminder that “There will be ups and downs” (80%) and to “Never give up” (82%).
Overall, the majority of these lessons learned were widely supported across all demographics. However, we found that some lessons were slightly more agreed upon by respondents under 35 years old versus those over 50– as we can see in the chart below.
We found that the Under 35 group were more likely than the Over 50 group to agree with lessons related to practical, or constructive takeaways from the pandemic. For example, they were more likely to support lessons such as “Get insurance” and “Have a good supply of toilet paper in the home” (yes, we’re still talking about the toilet paper shortage!).
On the other hand, the over 50 group were more likely to support statements related to what one might call the bigger picture, for example, the lesson “Never take life for granted”.
What is one meaningful positive lesson that you have learned this year?
Overall, the lessons learned shared centered around a few key themes, namely: the value of life, perseverance, and saving for unpredictable circumstances.
Although our specific takeaways may vary depending on the stage of life we’re in, it seems that 2021 has brought forth revelations and principles that many of us can relate to.
Looking ahead: A big hello to 2022
While reflection is important, the new year marks an opportune time to shift focus to what’s ahead of us. To get in the spirit, we asked respondents what they’re looking forward to in 2022.
Many shared the desire to move on from 2021 and focus on “Looking forward not back” (80%), and others echoed this sentiment stating that “I am looking for a fresh start in 2022” (60%) and “New beginnings” (67%).
Many also expressed the hope for “A stronger return to normalcy” (76%) than we have seen so far, a wish that was not quite granted by 2021.
The majority of folks are also looking forward to more financial and emotional stability, more time with friends and family, and overall “Making improvements in my personal life” (70%).
What are you looking forward to in 2022?
As respondents have expressed, there’s a lot we can look forward to in 2022.
Despite the obstacles of the year, we’ve showcased time and time again our strong ability to adapt and grow from difficult circumstances. At the same time, throughout 2021, we’ve learned to appreciate what we have, hold our loved ones a little tighter, and not give up hope.
And while some of us are just grateful for 2021 to be ending, we hope you all have time to rest, reflect and rejoice this holiday season before we turn our calendars over to the new year.
Cheers to 2022!
The GroupSolver Team