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JENNA KUTCHER

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10 Ways to Seek Out the Silver Lining of 2020

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2020 has been a challenging year and that’s putting it *extremely* lightly. I’ve experienced some of my greatest challenges as a human and entrepreneur and I know I’m not the only one who’s faced fear, uncertainty, and straight-up confusion about the future this year. From a worldwide pandemic unlike anything that’s been around for the last century, to a racial and civil rights awakening that has been so desperately needed in our country, to economic strife, rapid business pivots, and unprecedented lifestyle adjustments thanks to everything just, well, kinda shutting down for a while there… This year has been one of the collectively heaviest and most challenging years that I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and I’m guessing in yours, too.

My mom always taught me to seek out the silver linings in things and as we begin to wrap up 2020 and I reflect on the uncertainty this year has dropped on all of our doorsteps I am leaning into that lesson more than ever, clutching to the pieces of hope and the glimmers of gratitude it has also shown me.

This episode is not meant to give you all the answers. It’s not meant to sort life out after the tornado that swept through in the form of 2020. It is, however, going to give you some ideas to take the next two months and some changes to find balance and peace again and to focus on what you CAN control, if you feel you’ve lost control of this year.

So whether you’re ready for a reset but don’t want to wait for New Years Day, or you just want to focus on one small habit that might lift you up out of the shadows as we wrap up the year… I hope these 10 ideas for ways to end 2020 seeing the silver linings, like my mom taught me to. I hope they fill you up and remind you that, no matter what’s happening around you, you still carry the power to choose how you respond and how you carry yourself forward and out of the depths of hard times. I fully believe in you and know you can end this year better than it started… here are some ideas on how.

1. Start bullet journaling.

This style of journaling developed by designer Ryder Carroll is a total win for the efficiency freak in me. It’s basically writing your thoughts, things you want to remember, life lessons, and feelings down in a bullet format rather than long-form paragraphs.

This is one of my few “proud mom” moments but since Coco was born, we write down one sentence a day in a little 5 year “journal” type book. It’s literally just a few lines where we share what we did for the day or a special memory and we’re almost two years into it and we’ve kept up with it. It’s super fun to look back on memories from just a year ago and remember milestones.

Similar thought here with bullet journaling, it’s not about writing paragraphs, it’s just a line or two. You don’t need to worry about a clean intro or backstory with bullet journaling.

Does anyone else get a little too perfectionistic with traditional journaling and start treating it like a memoir and get too in your head about story structure and grammar and everything else? Or you imagine your children reading these words 20 years from now and you get in your head? Just me?

Bullet journaling is the quick fix to getting it all down on paper, it could be just a thought or you could do a full brain dump where you get all those lingering thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto a safe space… and trust me, it’s way easier to go back and read one day.

Here are some of my favorite journal prompts if you want ideas for how to get started:

  • I hope to remember this about this season…
  • I am working on being more thoughtful and intentional about…
  • My biggest barrier right now is…
  • I am feeling…
  • My week would feel lighter if…

2. Choose a mantra or affirmation for the rest of the year.

If you’re constantly thinking, “This year sucks” or “I’ll never get unstuck” then your brain will subconsciously choose to pursue, seek out, and support actions that back up those beliefs. I’d urge you to just pick ONE sentence that you want to define the rest of your year and all that you do over the next couple of months.

My sister and BFF Kate is sooo good at coming up with affirmations that can center and uplift you regardless of what’s happening around you. Here are a few that she’s shared recently that may inspire you…

  • Even in unsteady times, I can seek out and find my own form of peace
  • I am ready to surrender the outcome of things that are out of my control
  • I don’t need to have all the answers in order to take a step forward

Imagine if you wrote those at the top of your planner or on your mirror and read them to yourself a few times every day. Thoughts become beliefs, which become actions and truth. Let your end of the year be defined by words YOU choose.

At the beginning of the year, I had my entire team choose a word or phrase that they wanted for 2020 and mine was centered around presence. To be all in wherever I am whether I am mom-ing or working, I wanted to not feel split but be all in on one thing instead of stuck in the halfway juggle of doing more than one thing at once. That desire of presence has definitely challenged me with this year and has forced me to slow down, to set my phone down, to ask myself what I am learning right now, and to realize that taking a break is an active choice.

Here’s what my end of the year mantra is: I am present in this moment and mindful of the gift of my attention brings to it.

3. Set a morning routine you’ll stick to.

There is research that says the ONE thing every successful person has in common is a thoughtful morning routine. I’m not going to lie, I have felt immense guilt over the past years because my morning routine isn’t what they write about in the books, though it has greatly improved.

Oftentimes when we think of “routines” we think of something that’s strict and unbending, however I’d invite you to pick a few simple activities that bring you joy and that center you first thing in the morning, and simply stick to doing those. It doesn’t have to be the SAME time and SAME order every single day—although, if that’s your style, you do you—but just aim to incorporate the same 3-5 activities that start your day on the right foot and that you’ll want to stick to.

My morning routine ebbs and flows but I try to focus on hydrating, a little movement, something that centers me whether it’s reading or gratitude or meditation, and a pause button before I grab my phone and get sucked into my day. I’ve noticed that the longer I can go without grabbing my phone, the more calm my morning feels. Pro tip: We literally made a charging station inside of our cabinet so our phones are never in our bedroom and not out in the open, visible, to avoid the temptation.

4. Reach out to someone you love every day.

I think if this year has shown us anything, it’s the power of connection even if we can’t be around people we love all the time. Taking the time to send a check-in text to an old friend, an update email to your sibling, or a call to catch up with your grandparents can be some of the most uplifting time spent in your day.

We’ve gotten in the habit of Facetiming my parents almost daily to start their day and check on my mom’s progress after her accident that happened earlier in quarantine and it’s been a great way to check in, stay connected, and see another friendly face.

I’ve shared in the past that for years I’ve tried to reach out to 3 friends every day just to check in, let them know I am thinking of them, and I’m here without expecting or requiring a response. It’s been a habit of mine and I’ve found that when someone pops into my head, it’s usually not a coincidence, I feel like it’s a sign from God that I should just reach out.

Now more than ever, we need to be reminded of the importance of our relationships. It doesn’t have to be an hour long phone call every day, but see if you can commit to reaching out to someone you love even in a quick text once a day! I literally say: “No need to respond, just want you to know I’m thinking of you today and sending love your way! Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you or anything I can be praying for!”

5. Pursue a new hobby for fun or a creative outlet.

One thing 2020 has reminded me is the joy in doing JUST for the sake of trying something new. I feel like as adults we hold ourselves back from trying new things or exploring new ideas because we are afraid of failing or we feel like we must post and share every aspect of our lives. Like… when is the last time you tried something new not for any kind of monetary gain or business venture or even for sharing online, but just to pursue your passions and creativity as an outlet rather than productivity.

Commit to trying something new to challenge your creativity these next two months, whether it’s starting an inside herb garden, doing a puzzle, writing poetry, painting watercolor, practicing calligraphy, going on a hike, starting a blog for the heck of it, or just trying something new each week for 30 minutes.

There’s something beautiful about playing and experimenting, even if you’re not “good” at a certain skill, it just connects you to your inner child and reminds you to not take everything so seriously.

6. Move your body for 20 minutes a day.

But only with the intention of feeling good in your skin, not to change anything or become the next fit model on Instagram.

When I stopped exercising to change my body or to punish it and started pursuing intuitive movement that made my body AND brain feel better, it changed everything. I don’t have to push myself to my absolute limit every time I laced up my tennis shoes. I don’t need to stress out my cortisol levels just to get a sweat. I used to be super regimented in my workouts and I’d set rules for what qualified as a workout but now I set a goal to move my body for 20 minutes a day minimum and I do my best to hit it each and every day.

SOME days it’s intense and sweaty and powerful movement on my bike or with the Peloton. But a lot of days, my movement is simple, like a long walk, a slow jog, or a restorative yoga sesh, so that I can get away from screens and reconnect to how I’m actually feeling inside and out. I’ve even started taking phone calls on the go and use that time to go on a walk so that I am moving when I would usually just be sitting still.

How can you get creative with the time you’ve got so that you can move your body in celebration. And 20 minutes is doable for all of us… I fully believe we all have the time to dedicate 1.39% of our day to moving in some capacity that brings you joy and allows you to pause from the hustle, emails, asks, and to-dos that fill the rest of your day. Do a quick body scan, where are you holding tension, what would feel good for you, how can you prioritize movement today?

7. Ask for help in one area of your life.

What’s ONE area of your life you could bring in a set of helping hands or ask for a little support? It could be as simple as asking your partner to handle planning a dinner or kiddo bath time a few days a week.

Maybe it’s fully embracing going digital and switching to grocery delivery rather than your usual twice-a-week store runs. Maybe it’s fiiiiinally paying the neighbor kid to mow your lawn to free up some extra time, or making the jump to hire a VA for a few hours a week so you can better protect and preserve your time.

We ALL need help in some capacity, and as women, we tend to take on more than we can (or should) carry. Let go of one thing to end this year, and hand it to someone you trust so you can begin experiencing just a bit more freedom and ease.

8. Commit to ditching something that drains you.

Do you find yourself mindlessly, numbly scrolling on Instagram or Twitter only to close the app feeling more anxious? Or popping open your email first thing in the morning as your heart races from the number of notifications and your day suddenly gets commanded by what’s inside? Maybe you’ve noticed those late night Netflix binges make you feel more anxiety filled than relaxed, or the quick chips and salsa fix for lunch makes your afternoon drag (even if it was an easy solution for food when you needed it fast).

What I’m saying is: take stock of how you spend your time and the choices you make. If you notice one thing that habitually drains you, see if you can possibly ditch it, switch it up… or at least create boundaries around it.

I have a friend who nervously deleted the email app from her phone, praying her work life wouldn’t implode but NEEDING a boundary to keep herself from hopping online all hours of the day and night. Guess what? Her business didn’t go down the toilet, and she was more intentional with her time when she WAS online and way more present with her personal life when work time ended.

I just got off of a week without posting or sharing and it felt SO freeing to just pause and really be present (remember, my mantra) without the pressure to share. Honestly, getting back online is feeling hard and I’m definitely contemplating how I want to approach social media in new ways.

9. Give back to someone in your community.

One of the quickest ways to gain perspective and step outside our own hurts and struggles is to find a need and fill it. Whether it’s volunteering with a local charity or donating money or objects to a cause that needs it or helping a family in your church or community who’s struggling… helping others is always something we turn to in order to remember: we are okay, we are blessed, and we have the opportunity to share our gifts with others.

Some of our favorite places to give back are the local food bank — most food banks can not keep up with the need that 2020 has brought on, if you are able to support your local food bank, this is huge. We’ve also been prioritizing donations that offer support for mental health, since 2020 has brought on a greater need to therapy and accessible opportunities for those struggling mentally. There are also so many important social causes being highlighted this year that provide countless opportunities to give back whether with time, support, or financially that will help you support what you believe in.

And lastly, if you’re inspired watching Marie Kondo or The Home Edit on Netflix, maybe it’s time for a good cleaning and decluttering of your closets which can give you the change to donate your used items and help them get a second life with someone who may need it.

10. Make time to do something for you every week.

I don’t care if you need to pick one day each week and black out 30 minutes on your calendar in order to remember and hold space for yourself, but making time for YOU every single week, at least once a week, should be a nonnegotiable in your life.

You give and do so much for so many people, and I’d bet your own care and delights aren’t even on your radar most days… am I right?

Take the time to do something unapologetically for you every single week… and no, going to the grocery store alone or cleaning your house while your husband takes the kids somewhere is not you-time.

I’m talking: an uninterrupted bubble bath… a long walk in nature… a solo pedicure… sitting in the park for a half hour to read… just small things that refill your cup and refuel your soul so that you’re able to continue being there for everyone else in your fullest capacity afterward.

The Big Picture

These practices are beautiful and life-giving, but you don’t need to do all of them to end your year on an upswing. In fact, I encourage you to just pick ONE thing that excites you most, and start there. If you can incorporate it into your life fluidly and love the way it makes you feel AND want more, then come back to this episode and pick one or two extras to start infusing into your routine.

Basically, this is like the “choose your own adventure” of taking back the end of your year. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. But I want you to commit to doing at least one of these and then share your updates or progress with me online using the hashtag #TakeBack2020withJK!

I’d love love love to see how you’re reclaiming your power at the end of this rocky yet eye-opening year, and if anything, just know that EVERY day is a new opportunity to start fresh. You don’t have to wait until January 1st or a new week. Start now, and watch your life elevate in every way as you take small steps toward an empowered future.


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by Jenna Kutcher 

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