Will 2020 be a Pivotal Moment in the Story of your Life?

Jane Feighery
5 min readDec 15, 2020
Photo by Paul Condron, Devil’s Glen, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. September 2020.

A pivotal moment in a story is one at which the perspective shifts. There is an awakening, a realisation, perhaps a coming-of-age.

As a result of this pivotal moment, the character’s approach to life, or trajectory in life may evolve in new ways. It is a moment which leads to course-correction, internal or external, and from which there is no going back. Pivotal moments change the course of history.

This last year has created conditions for a mass awakening to occur, presenting us with infinite opportunities to reassess the way we are living our lives as individuals, families, and communities.

We jumped aboard the existential crisis train back in March when solidarity levels were high. The shift to home-working, schooling and cooking took place overnight, and we rallied together for the common good.

There was an opportunity to question modi operandi that had previously been set in stone. New norms were established within a short period of time, and as a nation we were riding a collective solidarity high; cheering frontline workers, looking out for the elderly and vulnerable, reconnecting with nature, our homes, and our loved ones near and far.

As we settled into our ever-evolving ‘new normal’, which (like the old normal) will continue to evolve, the narrative that 2020 will be a year that we’ll want to forget has been a popular one. The idea that 2020 has been a waste, a write-off, a disappointment of a year, and that we will in 2021 have the chance to truly live again and get ‘back to normal’.

This is a narrative that sits uneasily with me.

I am not in any way denying the significant challenges, heartache, illness, and loss that this pandemic has caused. I sympathise deeply with those who have lost loved ones, their health, their income, or their social connections over the last 9 months. I am also clear that we are not all in the same boat, or all in this together. Some have dealt with inconvenience and boredom, and others have suffered immeasurable loss, devastation and grief. 2021 is not going to be much easier a year for these people.

The topic of ‘getting over’ 2020 came up in conversation with my brother John over lunch last Saturday, when he rolled out one of his favourite phrases — ‘back on track’. John cannot wait for 2020 to be over so that he can get ‘back on track’. I challenged his desire to dismiss the year he’s had and asked him to have a think about just how much he has improved and grown — just how much he has learned, and just how much he has gained that has set him up with improved health, happiness and wisdom for the years to come.

Thanks to 2020, John is now an avid walker who never misses his daily walk. He is now journaling every evening about his achievements from the day. He has become proactive and helpful around the house. He has learned how to use and easily navigate new technologies such as Zoom.

Many people with Down Syndrome (as is the case also for many people who do not have Down Syndrome) are creatures of habit. As a creature of habit, 2020 has offered John the opportunity to embed and embody new routines and habits, and not surprisingly — when habits are positive, so too are the results!

John will now go for a walk every day irrespective of the weather. He has become an obsessive consultor of his weather app, but despite all the weather warnings he issues to my parents, he will still go for a walk or two rain, hail or shine.

Let’s just pretend for a moment that when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, that we will move into a year that will be new and ‘normal’, that we will be ‘back on track’. What would you be taking with you to inform the next phase of your life? What learnings would you be collecting from 2020? What would you be congratulating yourself for with regards how you have handled this past year? What would you be thanking the Universe/God/yourself for?

Would you really wish to wipe the slate clean and erase the annoying memories of 2020, or might it be true that this last year has presented you with a pivotal moment which has the possibility to shape the entire rest of your life?

The only way in which this last year could be interpreted as a ‘waste’ will be if we fail to grasp the growth opportunities with which it has so clearly presented us.

As happens with growth opportunities and life lessons, if we don’t take them when they’re offered the first-time round, they will surely make their way back around and present themselves again through new and improved challenges.

So, before you switch off and enjoy much-deserved Christmas festivities and wind-down, might you consider what is it you are going to consciously take with you from this year into the next?

Its true of course that the move from one year to the next is purely symbolic, and that we can choose instead to consider each new day a fresh start, or align with the Celtic Calendar, or any other calendar for that matter. However, this calendar year HAS been a significant one, and therefore one for us to not rush to the finish line of.

If this year were a pivotal moment in the story of your life, what would that pivotal moment be? Who were you before it? What did you learn? How did you change? How did you grow? Who did you become?

When you tell your grandchildren about 2020 what will the moral of the story be?

We are the stories we tell ourselves, so let’s tell ourselves powerful and ambitious stories as we transition from one year to the next, which will call in the type of world that we all want to live in.

Let’s remember the collective dreams of closer communities, deeper connection, slower living and less unnecessary consuming and commuting.

Let’s dream these dreams into reality rather than sweep them back under the carpet.



Jane Feighery

Executive Coach, Yoga Teacher & Purpose/Values/Story Consultant. Linguist, lover of existential questions, diversity, nature, singing, dancing and poetry.