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5 Valuable Lessons Learned in 2020: It’s a Wrap!

By December 20, 2020July 15th, 2022Be A Better Version Of You

I’m wrapping up 2020 with this final blog of the year by sharing with you some of the most valuable lessons I learned during the course of 2020.

Valuable Lessons Learned


Some of you may know that I love to dance and am a competitive amateur ballroom dancer. As such, I exercise and stretch almost every day.  I am limber and very flexible which helps me tremendously when I dance.

This year one of the valuable lessons I learned was to be very flexible in my planning. Initially, I had planned to visit my son and his sweet family in Seattle once a quarter in 2020. My first visit was planned in March. Of course, that didn’t happen, and I was bitterly disappointed. We pushed that visit back to June, again to September, and now I’m scheduled to visit in March 2021.

I also became more flexible in my work with my organizing clients. Sometimes we worked together organizing a space, reducing clutter, setting goals, and improving flow while being appropriately distant and masked. Sometimes we worked virtually. Productive organizing work can happen in person or virtually.


Generally speaking, I am a patient person with other people but have limited patience with myself. I often set very high standards for myself while giving the rest of the world grace to make mistakes.

2020 taught me to be more patient with myself as I grappled with the restrictions with which we were presented as a result of the pandemic. I allowed myself to take more time completing projects and gave myself permission to just be. This was hugely important as it was difficult for me to come to grips with the loss of freedom.

I often council my clients to give themselves grace. To be more understanding and patient with themselves as they work to become more organized. It was high time that I took my own advice. This was a valuable lesson learned.

Live in the present

I was watching a Hallmark movie the other evening and heard an actress say this about the present. The lines go something like this; yesterday is gone, tomorrow has yet to be. All we have is now. Today is a gift and that is why we call it the present.

Another valuable lesson I learned this year was to stop thinking and re-thinking about things that have come and gone. These things are over and done. I can’t change what happened or didn’t happen. I also can’t predict what will happen. All any of us have is now. All any of us can do is our best in the moment.

I accept that I am doing my best and that those with whom I choose to spend my time are also doing their best. You know that there are times when you can do better and there are times when you won’t be as terrific as before. As long as an effort is made and you are truly present that’s all anyone can expect or ask.

To let things go

I just shared that I hold myself to high standards and this includes some household maintenance routines I have set in place in my home. There have been times over the past many months that I haven’t felt like doing some of these tasks. The valuable lesson learned here is that it’s just fine to let things go from time to time.

Having a household maintenance routine is a key component to keeping a home well-organized and running smoothly but it is perfectly ok to skip a task here and there. I know this and happily share this information with my clients.

I experienced it for myself this summer when I let go of a couple household maintenance routines and then picked them back up.

Computer skills

My website has, in the past, been managed and updated by someone else. I took lessons in 2020 and will continue them into 2021 to learn how to update the content. That was so empowering. I love being confident that I can go into the back end of my website and tweak the content on the various pages. Now, while my computer skills have improved enormously, I know there are some things that I will continue to hand off to my webmaster and that’s just fine. Click here to learn more about my fabulous webmaster; Jeff Wells with Kapp Koncepts.

What valuable lessons did you learn?

I know we have all endured a difficult year. A year unlike any other but I venture to point out that it was not all bad. Having said that, I’m not wishing for more of the same, but I am suggesting that when you take an honest look back you might find out that you learned some valuable lessons also.

As 2020 comes to an end, I want to challenge you to look back through the 12 months of the year. What are the valuable lessons you learned? Please share those lessons in the comments!  Click here to read more articles on Being a Better Version of You.

Diane N. Quintana, owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC, is a Certified professional organizer, a Certified professional organizer in chronic disorganization, an ADHD organizing specialist, a hoarding specialist, a blogger, and author. Connect with her on her website: DNQ or Facebook at Ask the Organizers: Diane and Jonda.


  • One of the things I have learned and am still learning is to accept that at this point in time I cannot do all that I could do in the past. Trying to keep a balance between accepting that and still pushing to improve is a work in progress.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      That’s an important thing to remember when you are recovering from an illness or surgery – accept that it takes your body time to heal and be thankful for the incremental improvements!

  • Wow, Diane! No one wished for a pandemic, but what amazing lessons came forth for you. That WAS my biggest lesson of 2020. The pandemic created a type of “all bets are off” atmosphere. And that sense that “anything goes,” resulted in more creative thinking. It also became abundantly clear how we limit ourselves because of norms, expectations, or routines. Now I’m not knocking routines. They have their purpose and place. But having life upended as we know it, allowed me (and others) to reexamine and review what we are doing. And in many cases, when we weren’t able to do something because of imposed pandemic restrictions, we found a new way forward. And that way was more enjoyable and meaningful. These resulted in positive changes for me. I cultivated a tiny vegetable garden, pivoted my business to virtual organizing, got certified as a CVPO, hosted a wedding that deviated from the original plan, allowed lots of letting go, and wrote openly about what was happening and how to cope. I walked more, ate more nutritiously (mostly,) had lots of quiet, and surprisingly, enjoyed it. Not that this was a lesson learned, but perhaps highlighted- how much I love and miss my family. Take no hug for granted.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Linda, you made delicious lemonade out of lemons! I love the way you pivoted and brought your business forward with lots of positive change. I agree that I will never take a hug for granted again.

  • Sara Skillen says:

    I resonate with all of these points, Diane – and hey, I didn’t know you were a dancer! I think my biggest lesson is gratitude for the small things. Hugs, sunrises, my dogs’ noses, my clients, books – actually not all small things, and hopefully things I will never take for granted.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Me, too! I love hugs and hope never to take all the daily small things for granted – like a beautiful peaceful sunrise!

  • With all the changes and modifications we had to do this year, I think every one of us had at least a few lessoned learned they can pinpoint right now. I learned that doing things helps me combat being depressed. So, doing DIY projects, working on my blogs, improving organized spaces, gardening in the summer are all things that made me feel good about what I can do. Thanks for sharing your lessons.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Sabrina, I love action myself. Doing something takes my mind off of thinking about things I can’t control and onto the activity in which I am engaged.

  • Julie Bestry says:

    Wow, what a great way to thrive in the chaos that was 2020. You found my weak points. I am impatient, unless I know exactly how long I have to wait for something. (I can wait 7 years, if I know that’s how long; but seven minutes with no idea how long I’ll wait is maddening.) I try to be flexible, but I’m a huge Sally (like When Harry Met Sally) and I want what I want, the way I want it. It’s a struggle. But you really hit the nail on the head with living in the present, as I constantly live anywhere but in the here and now. I’m nostalgic and anticipatory. What did I learn this year? I relearned the lesson that I cannot control most of the world, and can only control (and then, only sometimes) my reaction to it. And I continued to learn Italian, the irony being that I’m only actually good at speaking in the present tense!

  • Seana Turner says:

    These are all so true! I think the one that resonates most with me is to “live in the present.” I am typically very forward looking and thinking. I love to plan and to dream about what might be coming next. This year, I felt unable to plan, as if I just had to wake up each day and “wing it.” I wouldn’t want to live this way forever, but there are blessings to be enjoyed when I can stop focusing into the future and be mindfully present in this current moment!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      There’s a blessing to be found in almost every situation – if you look hard enough. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

  • Oh Diane, this is such a thoughtful piece. I’ve spent so much time reflecting on this year, 2020. The one thing you said that really resonated with me was how we put others to a higher standard. We’re not as forgiving or as patient with ourselves as we are with others.
    I totally understand your frustration about not being able to see your family and the visits keep being put off. It’s one of the miserable affects of the pandemic.
    Here’s what I learned in 2020. It’s not really a lesson it’s more a realization. In this universe, we are all the same. Regardless of color, religion or finances. The virus plucked whomever it wanted to. It didn’t matter if someone was loyal, had integrity, had a big heart or a big bank account. It didn’t matter, we’re all in this together.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Ronni, you are absolutely right. This virus played favorites with no one. We are all human – regardless of our color, religion, finances and I would also add politics. Thank you so much for commenting.

  • We are all anxious to see this year come to an end. Thank you for the reminder that it wasn’t all bad, and that it’s worth taking time to reflect on the positive outcomes.

  • Lucy Kelly says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful post, Diane. My ongoing lesson (not completely learned yet!) seems to be I can either roll with things or get frustrated by them but either way, they happen. I’m moving towards allowing myself to be frustrated in the moment and then pivoting towards finding ways to roll forward in different ways. Your grace shines through this beautiful post.