- January 6, 2021
I think we’re all glad to be done with 2020, am I right? It was definitely one of the toughest years I can remember in my lifetime and I’m sure we can all agree that it’s a year we will never forget, no matter how much we’d like to.
But has anything really changed? The year 2021 is just a symbolic change that is nothing more than a construct of the human mind. We’re still in the pandemic. Nothing about today is much different than December 31st. And there are a lot of people making the argument that 2021 is going to be even worse.
They’re telling you to get ready for even more struggle. They say we’re nowhere near the end of the pandemic and that COVID is going to be a thing for the foreseeable future. They’re telling you not to get your hopes up.
I can’t predict the future. No one can. But, I can prepare for any sort of future and have the right mindset regardless of the uncertainty ahead. You have two options to choose from when it comes to dealing with the rest of the year and the rest of your life, all of which have a level of uncertainty to them.
Before I dive into the two attitudes you can have, I want to remind you of my take on how to form beliefs. This take has helped me when my back was against the wall, it helps keep me motivated, and I can return to it in any situation.
Ask yourself this question when it comes to dealing with your circumstances
When it comes to your beliefs, you always want to ask yourself whether or not they’re useful to you. I’ve long stopped thinking in black and white terms like ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘true’ or ‘false’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I try to optimize my life by using the right form of belief for the task at hand.
I think of the way I got started with writing and kept pursuing it until I reached my ultimate goal of becoming a full-time writer. All available evidence said that the odds of being able to pull it off were unlikely. The vast majority of people who try to become full-time writers or full-time online entrepreneurs end up quitting.
Even though that’s technically true, was it useful for me to focus on the people who didn’t succeed, or was it more useful to see myself as the exception to the rule? There is no such thing as fairness and true equality in human life. Some people get dealt objectively bad hands. Circumstances outside of your control can and will affect your life. But is it useful for someone with a bad hand to focus on how bad the hand is or to focus on playing it to the best of their ability?
I’m not one of these gurus who thinks you have to be happy, smiling, and thinking positive all the time. I actually look at holding the right beliefs and thoughts at the right time as the most pragmatic thing you can do. You spend so much time preoccupied with your own life that it just makes sense to have the most useful beliefs — the ones that will help you get ahead and help you get what you want.
Why? Because no matter what you try to project to the outside world — humility, modesty, contentment, apathy, nihilism, whatever — there’s still a part of you that knows you can do better. You can’t silence that voice completely. People who do try to silence that voice end up having problems manifest in a bunch of different ways, even if they’ll never admit it.
So, you want to get on the right side of history in 2021 and beyond. First, let’s start with the wrong way to do it.
The wrong way to look at 2021 and beyond
The doomsday people could be one hundred per cent accurate. The pandemic could last years into the future. COVID may not ever go away. We could all be stuck in this dystopian lifestyle for quite some time.
But how is being pessimistic useful in terms of dealing with that reality?
I get it. I was shell shocked in spring. 2020 was rough. No need to overly judge yourself for how you handled it. But now? Think about how you’re going to deal with the future. Are you going to spend another entire year focusing on how bad your current reality is? If you did spend your time feeling anxious, depressed, and sad, did it help? Was it useful?
There’s this growing culture of apathy disguised as realism. The more lukewarm you are about life, the more real you are. You’re more authentic if you just succumb to your negative feelings. I’ve seen all these memes about not working hard, not being productive, and not trying to fight against the weight of our current circumstances. How well is that working out?
Usually, the people promoting these messages just want to drag you down with them. They don’t care about you. They’re not looking out for your best interests. They want to level the playing field in a way that makes everyone’s lives equally suck. Avoid these people at all costs.
The right way to look at 2021 and beyond
One of my favorite quotes comes from Marcus Aurelius, he said:
“You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
You want to develop an attitude and belief system that is independent of circumstances. You want good things to happen, but you’re prepared if things go south. You’re not some happy go lucky positive type that buries their head in the sand when the world spins in chaos, but you ultimately understand that feeding into the outrage and sadness machines isn’t going to do you any good.
So, what do you do? You do what you can with what you have. You learn lessons from the past and use them to build a better future. I’m sure there were a handful of people who experienced the crash of 08 who swore they’d be ready for the next economic meltdown. I’d been saving up extra cash and building up income streams because I knew something would happen at some time, but I just didn’t know when.
I stay constantly bullish, but I’m also prepared for bad things to happen. You can do both of these things at the same time. Decide that you don’t give a damn what happens in 2021. You’re still going to thrive and adapt. Lots of people made a killing financially in 2020, including myself. Entire careers were born out of the rubble of 2020. There’s always a play to be made even in downturns, especially in downturns.
I’m not going to chastise people for failing to take advantage of 2020 and using their extra free-time to be productive, but those that did are on an entirely new trajectory. Some people chose to take the time of isolation and use it for deep reflection that helped them make a shift.
Again, no judgment, but now it’s on you to decide what type of attitude you’re going to have about the future. And don’t just do it because I said so. Think about it and make up your mind for yourself. What’s the most useful attitude for you to have moving into 2021 and beyond? What attitude is going to create the most net positive effect in your life? Which attitudes are you going to avoid because they have no upside and all downside?
I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to give you a lens into the way I view the world so that it can help you make better and more informed decisions about your life. Because, after all, it’s yours.