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4 Life Lessons from 2020

Dr. Wayne Kerr with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

I don’t know what was going through your mind during the first days of the pandemic, but I was in something of a daze!

In the span of just three weeks, everything on my professional calendar for the entire year disappeared!

I really struggled to grasp the enormity of what was happening.

During the last week of March, I sat in my study staring at a blank computer screen, recognizing that I had nothing to tweak, practice, or prepare for.

As I reflected on the various hardships so suddenly imposed on millions of others, I realized that I needed a new mindset…

I reached for a stack of sticky notes and began writing notes of thanksgiving and positive thoughts:

  • “I’m thankful for the roof over my head.”
  • “I’m thankful for the food on my table.”
  • “I’m thankful for my family and for my family’s health.”
  • “I know we’ll get through this.”
  • “I know a bright future is still possible.”

I wrote notes every day for nearly three weeks and found the exercise to be so beneficial and uplifting to me that I thought others might find the idea helpful as well.

So, I wrote a book, When Life Needs a Sticky Note: words of inspiration during challenging times… This text opens a new tab to Dr. Kerr’s book….

Interestingly, when I removed the sticky notes from the walls of my study, I found that their content generally fell into four categories:

  1. Money
  2. Family
  3. Managing stress
  4. Loving life

Those are the life lessons from 2020 that I’d like to share.

What 2020 taught me

1. Money

Living beyond your means puts the safety and security of your family at risk.

It’s more important than ever to spend less than you make and avoid chasing those shiny objects you want but don’t need.

Have a family meeting to identify small weekly savings that can be used to build your emergency fund.

And, when you’re back on your feet, open that Roth IRA (if you haven’t already done so) and allow your money to double every seven years through the magic of the Rule of 72.

2. Family

There’s no question that we’ve spent more time than ever with our families as a result of the pandemic. Working from home, helping our children through virtual classes, and finding ways to entertain ourselves have all contributed to that.

As we move forward, however, it’s still important to invest time in your loved ones.

  • Plan a fun family event for late summer or early fall.
  • Pull out those state maps and guides to our national parks.
  • Plan a road trip, a weekend of camping at your nearby state park, or a silly-themed “staycation” on your patio or backyard.
  • Pick a date, set a budget, and post a picture of your plans on your refrigerator to build excitement!

Write your will.

It’s the single most important document needed to protect your family as it determines who gets your “stuff” and who raises your children.

If you are a single parent with minor children and die without a will, foster care may get involved even if your sibling is happy to provide for them. Don’t let that happen to your loved ones.

Centralize important documents and information in a three-ring binder.

Include such items as contact information for your siblings, family attorney, banker, insurance agent, CPA, broker, and any other professional advisor.

Include account information, current user IDs and passwords, and a key to your safety deposit box or the combination to your safe. Let your family know its location.

Last year was not a good year to put a loved one in a long-term care facility or nursing home.

If you and your parents have never discussed how you might help them to “age in place,” have that conversation this year. Don’t wait.

3. Stress management

2020 was a year like no other. The loss of income as businesses closed and the uncertainty of the future caused us all to endure enormous stress.

While a little stress is helpful, chronic stress is enormously destructive and shortens our lives.

Identify techniques that help minimize the stress you feel and utilize them.

It can be as simple as:

  • A daily walk through your neighborhood
  • Reading an exciting novel on your porch
  • Dancing to your favorite music
  • Sharing a glass of wine with a loved one
  • Pulling out that old Yoga mat for meaningful exercise and quiet reflection

Avoid negative people and fill your mind with positive thoughts each day.

4. Loving life

We cannot choose many things in life, but choosing our attitude is something over which we have complete control.

Happiness is a function of both thought and action and is, therefore, our choice!

Choose happiness, share a smile, and find reasons to laugh! You’ll live longer and enjoy life more (and so will those with whom you live and work).

Develop coping skills and recognize that man is a social being and was never meant to live in isolation.

Embrace your faith and extend your social network.

Renew old friendships and make new ones.

We need each other.

Commit random acts of kindness.

Do something simple to brighten a patient’s day.

Offer to run an errand for someone who can’t or give the gift of an hour to watch over the aging parent of a friend who’s occupied 24/7 with eldercare.

Write down anything you need to “let go,” run it through a shredder or set fire to it and let it go!

And, while you’re writing, write a note to your mentors thanking them for the positive contributions they’ve made to your success.

Key takeaways from the pandemic

There are many more lessons from the pandemic, I know, but these four struck me as significant.

Stay safe, embrace your family and loved ones, protect them by living within your means, write your will, centralize important information, and “have the talk” with your parents to determine how you might assist them late in life.

Do those things you need to minimize the stress in your life and absolutely explore ways to love life more fully.

All the best,
Wayne Kerr, DDS, MAGD… This text opens a new tab to Dr. Kerr’s website…

Meet the Author

Dr. Wayne Kerr in black suit with yellow tieDr. Wayne Kerr is a highly regarded speaker on the international stage, author of Ten Tips to the Top!: primer for the successful dental practice… This text opens a new tab to the book on Amazon… and multiple books of inspiration, including When Life Needs a Sticky Note: words of inspiration during challenging times… This text opens a new tab to Dr. Kerr’s book on Amazon….

He earned a Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry… This text opens a new tab to the AGD Mastership website… and was honored in 2011 with its presentation of the Life-Long Learning and Service Recognition Award.

Learn more about Dr. Kerr at… This text opens a new tab to Dr. Kerr’s website….



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