4 Takeaways for 2019 (Or Life Lessons from Unlikely Sources)

Entering the New Year is the traditional time to consider experiences over the past year to use as lessons learned for success in the year to come. Sometimes, that rear mirror review turns up lessons from the most unlikely sources.

As you fine-tune your resolutions for 2019, consider:


At a funeral, as we listen to our loved one eulogized, we hear a life distilled in anecdotes. People are described by their actions, events, interactions. Most often, we hear how our friend or family member made others feel.

The takeaway: how do you want to be remembered? While we can’t undo some events we might wish were less memorable (Spring Break, anyone?), we can add to the basket of more positive memories. You’ve heard it said, “People will remember how you made them feel.”  In 2019, you can choose to make them feel good, cherished, valued.


Bumper stickers are short – there’s only so much space on that sticky bit of vinyl on the back of your car. So, they’re simplistic, perhaps to the point of idiotic. Perhaps. But they’re also succinct, specific and memorable. That’s good.

The takeaway:  okay, you don’t want to be identified with “Visualize Whirled Peas” – but if you could express your life’s philosophy in seven words or less, what would you say? Once you can define it that precisely, it’s easier to put it into action. (My young adult’s credo “Do no harm and take no sh*t” has taken her a long way.)


“Did you find everything you were looking for?” Sure, store clerks are required to ask. But there’s a reason for it. As a colleague is fond of saying, “You can’t fix what you can’t see.”  If the clerk’s question prompts a response like, “No. You were out of butterscotch chips,” it lets them know they have an issue to address.

The takeaway: How are you being received? Did you come across as you intended? Don’t guess or assume; ask “Did I complete my assignment appropriately?”

  1. FROM THE ELEVATOR (no, it’s not the 30 second speech)

There’s a protocol to sharing the elevator with others. We all know it: hold the door if someone’s almost there, face forward, don’t crowd others if there’s space available, and keep the ride as odor-free as possible.

The takeaway: help if you can; respect others’ space and privacy; and, the never-old canard, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Put another way, what made last year good for you? Was it a professional achievement, personal success, rewarding relationships? And what brought that goodness your way? Chances are, it was something you did – intentional or otherwise.  As you look through the windshield to 2019, how about taking action more purposefully?

I’m looking forward to reading your “Life Lessons for 2020.”

Amy Cloud is is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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