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  • Writer's pictureArika Lawrence

My Year End Review: The Power of Pivots & Lessons Learned

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

A pink gratitude journal

If you were to ask someone on the street, how would they sum up 2020 in one word, I am sure a few words would be bubbling up in their mind, but the one that I keep hearing is “loss.” Depending on who you speak to or where you consume the news from, you likely have heard or read that 2020 has been dubbed the “year of loss.”

The global economy is experiencing one of the most catastrophic health disruptions that have single-handedly impacted everyone's quality of life. I agree that this year has put us all through the wringer --- no one could have ever prepared for a global pandemic. More specifically, no one expected to see the U.S. struggle with managing how to prevent the loss of so many innocent lives due to COVID-19 and to senseless acts of violence, especially, against innocent Black Americans. Personally, it has not been easy for me to process the magnitude of emotions I feel off and on daily about these issues. Despite the adversities that life has thrown at me and my community, each day, I try to wake up with a grateful heart and press forward with the hope that things will get better because my life and future depend on it.

In the end, I decide how I want to experience my life; therefore, I find myself confident in this one truth: what other people think of me is none of my business --- this is how I’ve learned to stand in my power. What has gotten me through this rough patch is tapping into my intuition, drawing on my past experiences, and knowing how to pivot through volatile environments. It’s easy to ruminate on the whys like: “why am I not invited to this?” or why didn’t this work?”, but I don’t anymore. Instead, I’ve accepted that these rejections are just redirections to something greater.

These redirections or blessings in disguise have led me to acknowledge that I don’t celebrate my “wins” enough; especially, publicly. Typically, I like to move in silence and let my work and experiences speak for themselves, but in this day in age, I need to do better in amplifying my wins. It’s something I’m working on because I am proud of how far I’ve come on my 2020 journey.

Here are my top 3 achievements of 2020:

1) Celebrating the digital nomad culture in Asia: From December 2019, through March 2020, I was 1 of 22 professional s who embarked on an amazing trip around Southeastern Asia. I left my corporate marketing job because I was ready to advance my career, so I used my time in Asia to join a boot camp, Skillcrush, to study user experience design.

What this experience taught me:

  • Culture appreciation - Remaining open to local experiences;

  • Team building - Building amazing relationships with my Shanti Tramily;

  • Communications skills - Picking up new languages;

  • Leadership skills - I hosted two grow workshops and taking the initiative to seek out/coordinate off the beaten path experience;

  • Volunteerism - Participating in social impact projects, if applicable;

  • Flexibility - Working/studying in different time zones during different weather seasons and in different countries teaches you next level adaptability hacks;

  • Negotiation skills- Haggling for what you want becomes the ultimate Jedi trick.

  • Bonus: I have officially traveled to 5 continents.

2) The magic of upskilling & networking: As soon as I returned stateside, continuing my learning journey was something important to me since I am leaping into a more tech-forward role. All the advice I kept receiving from peers in the industry is to make sure I took every opportunity to network with a purpose and learn to earn more knowledge in this industry. Breaking into tech is tough, but it is possible with hard work, dedication and consistency.

What I learned from these experiences:

  • Participated in 30+ professional conferences, workshops, and seminars around the tech sector, including SEO, UX/UI, digital strategy, AI, marketing communications, branding, coding camps ( JavaScript, Python, and HTML/CSS), and content/UX writing;

  • Graduated from Skillcrush UX boot camp in June;

  • Became a mentor in the FairyGodBoss Community and Women in Tech Facebook Group;

  • Earned my formal certificate in Google Analytics in November;

  • Competed in my first hackathon with Essteem where I was the team lead of three other members and the UX/UI professional;

  • Learned new tools like Figma and Invision for UX work, and Slack for collaboration.

  • Graduated from Y Combinator Startup School for Future Founders

    • Bonus: Joining 15+ digital communities was one of the best things I've done.

3) Launching my personal website & blog: Anyone who is trying to rebrand themselves in a digital world requires a website to showcase their offerings. It wasn't my first rodeo creating a website, but it did take some time to figure out how I wanted to present my work and my blog to users who will view it.

What I learned from this experience:

  • Used a mobile-first website template and added my own customization to create a minimalist look and feel;

  • Created content strategy for my website and blog;

  • Writes and edits all copy for my blog and website, including microcopy for buttons and contact form;

  • Oversees SEO strategy for my website and blog;

  • Monitors site traffic to website and blog;

  • Keeps an open feedback loop with users to incorporate useful functional design changes.


The Biggest Takeaway

The greatest lesson I learned from 2020 is trusting divine timing. I may not be where I want to be, but I am on my way to my destiny. All of the twists and turns in this journey have shaped me into the woman I am becoming. Furthermore, it has reinforced a deeper appreciation for the things I do have: health, support, love, and life. 2020 has taught us many life lessons about ourselves, and it continues to challenge each of us to turn inward and think about the things that matter to us the most. I am grateful for the pivots that have taken place thus far because it has led me to meet some incredible people along the way and has created pathways to roads less traveled. I’m also thankful for the material losses of life because it’s probably something I don’t need or it wasn’t aligning with my overall purpose. I have such a deep appreciation for clearing out old things that no longer serve me so it can create room for something new and better. My heart is open with great expectations for new chances, new challenges, and new beginnings.

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