2020 has been a wild year for most of us. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans found themselves unemployed (and millions still are). So many people lost or reimagined professional, academic, and personal milestones this year. Students didn’t get to walk at their graduations. Graduates didn’t enter the most welcoming job market. COVID brides had to cancel or completely replan their weddings. Teachers had to work in overdrive to provide new classroom models or offer hybrid learning. Businesses closed for good. People lost their homes and livelihood. Others chose to relocate from urban areas to more rural ones to put distance between themselves and others. The list goes on and on.

Everyone has been affected by the pandemic, and for many of us this year has felt like starting over. It’s been beyond challenging for some of us to figure out what’s next. What will our careers look like moving forward? Where will we live, work, raise our families, and thrive? How does one even begin to start over?

If you feel like a failure because your 2020 goals were disrupted or canceled due to the pandemic, know this: you’re not a failure and you’re not alone.

Starting over doesn’t make you a failure. 

1. These circumstances were not your fault.

 The first step is to acknowledge that COVID-19 wasn’t anything you could have prevented. If you got laid off this year, it was no reflection of your work ethic or abilities. Many companies had to make tough choices to keep their businesses running. Personally, I was part of a massive reduction in force due to COVID-19. As much as it hurt to receive the news, I knew it had nothing to do with my work ethic or skills. Accepting that you had no part in losing your job will help you accept what happened and move forward. You didn’t fail.

2. You can only control the things in your circle.

Maybe COVID-19 cost you your job or forced your work to adapt to a remote setting. Perhaps you had to move due to the virus or gave birth in less than ideal circumstances. However this year has affected you personally, all you can do is control your thoughts and actions. Remind yourself that just because you had a plan and it didn’t go the way you imagined, doesn’t mean you failed. Focus on how you react to these changes and handle them from there. It all comes down to what you can control.

3. You learn practical life lessons through change. 

For me, 2020 has been one of the hardest years of my life. Perhaps you feel the same. If you do, maybe you’ve recognized some important life lessons you’ve learned during these changing times. Like learning how to roll with the punches and stay flexible. And planning for things, but being adaptable when circumstances beyond your control make you change those plans. And learning to get back up, no matter how many times life keeps tripping you. When you fall down and have to start again, you’re actually learning how to get back up and keep persevering. You’re not failing, friend. You’re changing and growing and living.

4. Starting over can actually be the best thing for you. 

If you felt like 2020 took something away from you this year, try and reflect on how it could have been for the best. Maybe you lost your job, but it was a job you felt stuck in and hated.

Perhaps you had to move due to unemployment and crazy rent but you actually were secretly waiting for an excuse to leave the town you’ve been living in. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, these changing tides might be the very thing you need to revaluate your life.

5. Taking a step back can salvage relationships. 

Most of us felt stuck when the country shut down last spring. We were trying to make sense of getting laid off, or abruptly working from home, or being stuck inside with our families and significant others.

Think about the people who were in the midst of divorce or separating when COVID-19 hit and had nowhere to go and ended up quarantining together. In some cases, taking that time to stay home saved relationships. Maybe it did the same for you. Try and reflect on how taking a step back (or maybe starting over from scratch completely) actually salvaged relationships in your life. Maybe you weren’t giving your loved ones the time and attention they needed, and this quarantine did that for you.

Even if you’re back to going out and about in the world, these challenging times have helped so many people reassess their priorities and start fresh.

2020 has caused an enormous amount of change for practically everyone on the planet, all in a very short amount of time. Forgive yourself if you’re still playing catch up. Try to breathe, reflect, and give yourself the time and space you need to move forward. You don’t have to have everything figured out immediately. The one thing that we can guarantee is that life is full of change. Even if it feels like you’re starting over, do your best to remain optimistic and look to the future. Setbacks don’t mean you failed. It’s all about growing and chugging along. Stay strong!