Gratitude is something that I have learned to work on in my life. It is a way to focus on the glass being half full rather than half empty. Thinking about what we are thankful for, rather than the opposite, does wonders for our attitude.
So, without further pontification, here is a list of 10 things I am grateful for in 2020.
1. The extra time that I have gotten to spend with my family at home
There is something about having a Wednesday or Thursday in the week to stay home and do some work but also take breaks to talk to my kids, hug my wife, have lunch at home, etc. These end up being the most important times in our lives and it is truly a gift.
2. The clarity of what is important in my life
With a global pandemic, everybody wearing masks, the economy slowing down and the crazy election year, it has forced me and many people I know to focus on what is important in their lives.
This is often family and friends.
I focus on how to run a business well, what issues are important to us as a firm, what friends we need to stay in contact with, and what extra efforts we need to make to maintain relationships during this pandemic.
for it is the answer to all our problems today. I have really tried to focus this year on accepting what life is throwing at me at any time and seeing what shows up for me in that. Rather than blaming others or complaining about how our lives look, it is really important to turn around a bad attitude, to accept our lot, focus on what that means to us, think about what we can control or do about it, and surrender to, and revel in, our life. This needs constant work. Here’s the Acceptance quote from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
4. How well my business was set up for a pandemic
I did not know it but, the systems I had put in place before the pandemic in my now 5-year-old law firm, was well suited for a pandemic. We have cloud-based case management systems, servers, email systems, this email newsletter for marketing and a robust communication system among our employees and with our clients. Fortunately, I was set up well.
5. The changes and additional things I did in my business to work even better in the pandemic
Even though we were set up well, per above, we still did things to make our business run better in the pandemic.
This included mastering Zoom for court hearings, deposition, mediation (I even taught a class on this last week), having Zoom meetings with staff and focusing on teaching our great lawyers and paralegals how to keep communicating with the clients, doing a Facebook Live show to answer free legal questions for people in our community and to give gift certificates for Instacart to help people during this hard time.
We reworked our systems on lead intake, communication with clients. We continued with marketing by getting an extra 50+ Google review for the firm, settling and closing 113 cases this year, writing a Truck Crash book (which is very close to being completed), and investing in training and support for staff.
Here's a pic from last year's holiday party. We will not be having one this year.
6. My physical health
At the beginning of the pandemic I really worked hard on getting out to run and ride my bike to keep myself in shape. Truth be told, that has waxed and waned over the pandemic.
Most recently, I took a week off on a little trip and ran or rode my bike every day. I have committed to running or riding every day in November. Even though when there are times that I don’t and I stumble, I am always getting back on track and making myself do this.
7. The large number of clients we have been able to help
Although business, including ours, has taken a hit during the pandemic we redoubled our efforts to help people and were successful.
We are having a really good year of helping more people, achieving success in legal fights whenever we can and settling cases (113 in 2020 so far). There are not going to be any trials this year, but at least we can still aggressively fight to settle cases and put as much money in our client’s pockets as we can.
8. My kids adapting to the new rules for Corona
It has been hard to sit and tell my kids that they cannot socialize or interact with their friends. Sometimes all I think I am telling them are lectures about Covid increases and redoubling our efforts to socially distance and wear masks, etc.
But I am so grateful that my kids listen, do not take it personally, are following the rules, and have acquiesced to the new paradigm we are in. They are such great kids and I am so blessed to have them.
I am sure they will look back and remember this as the year when dad kept telling them that they cannot see their friends and have to wear masks. But there are positive lessons in this as well about community and responsibility that I hope will carry through their lives.
9. The money I have saved
Since I have not been out to eat or taken vacations, we have saved money.
10. Our home cooked meals
We have cooked many meals at home, almost every night. Most of our family are vegetarians and most of us eat all organic food. So, we really have spent a significant effort to have fresh home-cooked organic and vegetarian meals every night. My wife is amazing at organizing the shopping and we all lend a hand in cooking and cleaning up.
We have also had some construction in the house for periods of time and have had to do some carryout and delivery. We had a 30-day window that we had to order food when the kitchen was unusable. So many great local restaurants to support.
I have always talked to my kids and family about where food comes from. It is something I read in a book by Thich Nhat Hanh. Having your family be conscious of where their food comes from is really important so that they can have gratitude and appreciate the world in which we live. Food is not something that just magically appears on our plates.