Making the Most of a Difficult Year – 2020 Learnings

When faced with a great deal of challenges and hardships, how can you go about making the most of a difficult year? There’s no hiding that 2020 was a rough one, but what can we learn from it?

I’ll admit that my toes start to curl at the mention of 2020 being a “write off”. Even a few deep belly breaths are required at the thought.

Sure, it wasn’t the year any of us signed up for, but it was the one we got. 2020 has – and will continue to – bring incredible learnings along with the enormous suffering and difficulties we’ve witnessed.

2020 is the dark-grey cloud, and the silver lining is all the learnings we’ve discovered along the way. The silver lining represents making the most of a difficult year.

If you’re still struggling with finding that silver lining, then I have no doubt this week’s PPMP podcast will help.

Sonja Walker, Founder and Director of Kids First Services, joins the podcast once again for an unbelievably insightful episode on making the most of a difficult year.

Kids First is made up of an award-winning team of health professionals who give kids (and their parents and teachers) the practical strategies they need to successfully navigate the ups and downs of preschool, school and life.

We talk all-things 2020 including her post-COVID learnings, team progression, and self-care. We also explore her journey creating her book, School Ready, and how it’s impacted her life both professionally and personally.

Whether you’re still struggling with finding any positives in 2020 or just keen for some fresh perspective, this episode is a must-listen for anyone in allied health.

Before listening to the whole episode, let’s break down our conversation on making the most of a difficult year.


Recognising Your Biggest Learnings

“There’s no luck involved in something that is significant,” Sonja shares in the episode. “For me, it’s been about trying to keep our heads up…even when you don’t really know what’s going to happen next.”

At the end of the day, luck doesn’t quite play the same role in years like 2020. One of the most significant things you can do in unpredictable times is to focus on resilience. Your hard work and team work are stronger than what you might think.

Another big learning curve for Sonja was to be as proactive, inclusive and collaborative as possible. This helped with making sure that everyone’s voice was heard.

In the episode, you’ll hear more about Sonja’s most significant learning moments, like the importance of not taking pressures from home into the workplace.

So, what can we take away from Sonja’s learnings? 

We can recognise the importance of taking the time to understand what we’ve learned from a time of hardship. If you don’t want to look for the positives in a negative situation, then look for the learnings instead.

What are you grateful for? What are you lucky to still be able to do?

Even if things are not the same as they once were, there are still always lessons to be learned. If you can focus on that rather than writing a whole year off, then you can move forward stronger and smarter.


Making the Most of Your Skills & Expertise

Being able to help others is a main source of motivation for all of us in allied health, and it’s no different when it comes to Sonja. 

Alongside running her business, she created School Ready – a practical and supportive guide for parents whose children are going to start school.

Sonja reflects on the joy the book has brought to her personal and professional life. As she says in the episode, “a book is like a business card on steroids.”

Is there something you’ve had on the back burner or to-do list that you’d love to create or publish? It could be a book, a video, or a guide. 

No matter how big or small it is, giving a sense of hope and encouragement is such an important gift we can give to people.

Another interesting thing to think about is how a book can create a whole ecosystem. A book (or whatever you choose to create) doesn’t have to be its own entity. That’s exactly what makes it such an asset to your business as a whole.

A book can expand into a membership program, subscription program, or be part of a series of online tools.

For Sonja, School Ready gives her business a greater sense of authority, helping her branch out the business beyond its geographical boundaries of Sydney’s northern beaches.

Listening to Sonja’s story reminds us to trust our abilities and take full advantage of our incredible skills and talents. What area of your skill-set can you take that extra step forward? If you’re holding back, why? 


Women & Families During COVID

For Sonja, having people around her who understand her business and her as a business person is essential. But to have people who especially understand her as a businesswoman has been an important step.

Sonja explores what she’s observed as a business owner in terms of women during COVID, particularly with the juggling act so many of them had to learn.

While the notion of a work-life balance isn’t a new concept to women, the onset of COVID certainly created a whole new world of challenges that we didn’t know before. From home offices to homeschooling, the idea of competing priority emerged in the face of COVID.

What kind of shifts did you make in 2020 to help your work-life balance? I’m sure there are things you never thought you could or would have done before. 

Now is the time to look back, acknowledge, and praise yourself for getting through such a tough year and continuing to make necessary changes.



Regardless of the pandemic or not, making the most of a difficult year and supporting one another is important in all walks of life.

If 2020 has taught us anything, learning from our past and being conscious of the unseen pressures will become second-nature as we move into the future.

Taking the makeup off and showing that we’re all human is one of the most beautiful things we can all do. 2020 is definitely one we won’t forget (for good and bad reasons), but remembering what we learned is the most powerful thing we can do.

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