Big Ideas that will change our Life in 2021
The coronavirus — first described in January as a mysterious, flu-like ailment making the rounds in China — brought the global economy to a standstill. Millions lost their jobs, and over 1.4 million people lost their lives. Many of us went home, and stayed there.
2020 tested our resilience, forcing the world to change on the fly how it lives and works. As we near 2021, with the tenuous promise of a suite of vaccines, we face a new test: We will need to decide what kind of post-pandemic world we want to build, for ourselves and for future generations.
1. The office will fight to win you back
After a year of working from home, power dynamics have shifted. Companies will need to give employees a reason to return to the office. On offer? Spaces designed for what we’ve been missing all along: Human connection, and maybe a bit of rest and relaxation, too.
2. In 2020, companies promised racial equity. In 2021, they will be held accountable.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in May, executives across corporate America came out en masse with pledges to rid their organizations of systemic racism. Next year, customers and employees will demand they live up to the promises they made. Some 60% of Americans say they expect brands to take a stand on racism and nine out of ten employees globally believe companies should engage in diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“With a turning tide nationally on racial equity, Corporate America will begin to match diversity, equity and inclusion commitments with a comprehensive approach that holds themselves accountable for progress like they do in every other aspect of their business,” said John Rice, who is CEO of the nonprofit Management Leadership for Tomorrow. “We will redefine what ‘good’ looks like for racial equity in the workplace.”
3. Brexit will be complete – but negotiations will never end
Though the UK officially left the European Union on January 31 of this year, 2021 is when the reality of Brexit will truly sink in. On December 31, the transition period will end and Britain will no longer be part of the EU customs union and single market. Even with a trade deal in place – one is still being negotiated – there will be disruptions and delays simply because “trade will be more difficult,” says Anand Menon, director of UK In A Changing Europe, an independent research initiative.
4. Streaming will eat — then transform — the movies
It’s been a devastating year for movie theaters, as many were forced to shut their doors amid the pandemic. But things have been particularly sunny for the streaming business, which became just about the only game in town for Hollywood — and viewers — this year.
When the COVID-19 crisis subsides, can movie houses find their way back to consumers’ hearts and wallets? Yes, but it’s going to require a few adjustments.
Better food and less sticky floors likely won’t cut it. “What can a theater offer that you can't get in your living room? Other people,” says NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway. “Comedies are funnier, thrillers are more suspenseful, and horror movies are scarier in a crowd.
5. The remote classroom will get a much-needed upgrade
One of 2020’s biggest frustrations involved the upheavals associated with abruptly halting in-person K-12 and college education, in favor of moving everything to remote learning. Instructors struggled to master video tools built for adults in business settings. Class attendance dwindled. Even students who did show up often felt disconnected.
There must be a better way, say Stanford computer science professor Daphne Koller and her husband, tech entrepreneur Dan Avida. Both helped build Coursera, a giant, college-level online learning platform. Now they’re back with another ed-tech startup, Engageli, which is building an interactive teaching system that’s designed to meet schools’ unique needs.
One key idea: making it easy for students to “sit” together at tables of two to eight learners, while an instructor’s lesson unfolds. Students can confer with table-mates without being heard by the larger group.
6. We will alter the blueprint of cities...
The pandemic will change the face of cities, remodeling them in ways that will make urban life more sustainable. Mayors from all over the world have put the launch of “15-minute cities” at the heart of their recovery plans. The main idea? City dwellers should have everything they need (work, bars, restaurants, shops, schools, healthcare, leisure) within a 15-minute trip — on foot or bike — from home. Lockdowns gave working from home proof of concept, challenging the notion that cities need to be divided into separate areas for working and living. And many city dwellers experienced life with fewer cars and more bikes on streets. Now, the genie is out of the bottle.
7. China will grab the spotlight in 2021
China had a blockbuster 2020. Despite a global pandemic originating on its shores, the nation’s economy quickly rebounded, growing by 4.3% in the third quarter of this year, its citizens are living a largely normal life thanks to strict lockdowns that stopped the virus’ spread and it joined one of the world’s largest trading pacts. The United States and Europe, meanwhile, are setting themselves up to spend 2021 containing waves of infections that have brought large portions of their economies to a standstill.
All of this puts China in a prime position to secure a spot as the world’s dominant superpower for years to come. But winning hearts and minds isn’t likely to come with that success.
8. The travel industry will go the way of Netflix
The pandemic wreaked havoc on the travel industry in 2020. International travel all but halted for many countries. Airlines have filed for bankruptcy protection. Traditional tourist hotspots have become coldspots. The travel industry has been forced to rip up big chunks of its playbook and start fresh.
One idea gaining traction? Travel subscriptions. Costco has partnered with WheelsUp to offer a yearly private jet subscription for US$17,499.99. Tripadvisor is launching a yearly subscription service called Tripadvisor Plus for US$99, which offers access to travel deals and other perks. And some airlines have begun experimenting with travel subscriptions as well, where they offer fixed rate flights in exchange for a secure, continuous source of revenue.
“In Southeast Asia, we’ve already seen airlines testing the waters with this concept,” says Hannah Pearson, founder of Kuala Lumpur-based travel consulting company Pear Anderson. “AirAsia launched its Unlimited Pass for domestic flights in Malaysia earlier this year — and given that they’ve now rolled it out in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, we can deduce that it has been a success.”
9. For many workers, the 9-to-5 will become a 3-2-2
Business leaders are being forced to rethink how their companies will work in a post-pandemic world. One of the biggest questions they will face? Where — and when — employees can work.
By the time it’s safe to return to the office, many workers will have spent a year or more working from home. And many are enjoying the extra time and flexibility. Companies may let employees work from home two or more days per week, with some opting for three days in office, two days remote and then two days off — a 3-2-2 work week, if you will — according to Ashley Whillans, a professor at Harvard Business School. Some employers may even cut down to a four-day work week altogether.
“Employees will demand greater flexibility and organizations will require it,” Whillans said. “What this flexibility will look like will vary depending on the sector and geographic location. But, hopefully, if we do this right, gridlock morning commuters will be a thing of the past.”
10. Next year’s must-have tech? Anything that makes us feel safer
Forget faster, better, newer and different. Next year’s technology and innovation wish list will focus on products and services that make us feel safer. Like the pulse oximeter. I hadn’t even heard of it until last March, when my wife insisted we order one. That way, if either of us contracted COVID-19, we could check our blood oxygen levels to determine how serious our illness was. Get ready for global recession, Act II
As a year that’s produced no shortage of surprises comes to a close, economists are already signaling a big one for 2021: This global recession may only be the opening act.
The initial economic downturn — induced by synchronous global shutdowns as the pandemic proliferated — has led to conditions that now expose an underlying, more fundamental recession, according to economist Ernie Tedeschi. The signs? Industries that weren’t directly affected by the health crisis are now experiencing job losses, business failures and declines in spending; more layoffs that were originally classified as temporary are being classified as permanent; and the rate of long-term unemployment — a disturbing hallmark of the Great Recession — is on the rise.
“The long ascent out of this year’s deep recession will be uneven, uncertain — and prone to setbacks,” Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund, told LinkedIn News. “The road to strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth will be long and difficult.” — Devin Banerjee
11. For leaders, character will be everything
As we strive to overcome a global pandemic and an economic recession, the character of leaders will matter as much as their competence. In 2021, servant leadership will be a competitive advantage.
Psychologists find that in the face of threats to our jobs and our lives, we become more concerned about precarity and purpose. We’re looking for a sense of confidence that our jobs are secure and a sense of contribution to a cause larger than ourselves. This will give servant leaders an edge in recruiting, motivating and retaining talented people.
12. We will name heatwaves like we do hurricanes and cyclones
The last decade was the hottest on record and in the past few months alone, heat records were shattered around the globe: Death Valley, CA topped 54 degrees Celsius (130 in Fahrenheit); Siberia and Europe routinely hit temperatures 7 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius higher than average, respectively; and extreme heatwaves in Australia have fueled the worst wildfires ever seen.
Heatwaves do not dramatically rip the roofs off of buildings and what they leave in their wake cannot be photographed or broadcast in the same way that wildfire, hurricane or flood damage can. Yet their effects are no less pernicious. In the U.S., more people die of extreme heat annually than any other weather-related event.
We have been naming tropical storms and hurricanes since the 1950s. Naming heatwaves will create a similar culture of awareness and preparation around the risks and impacts of heat and galvanize the necessary resources to protect and save lives. In 2021, we will name heatwaves like tropical storms and hurricanes and extreme heat will be a silent killer no longer.
13. The pandemic will send more women to the C-Suite
COVID-19 has been catastrophic for women — particularly minority women, low-income women and single mothers — as job losses mount in sectors that employ a large share of women and school closures force many working mothers to drop out of the workforce altogether. In the U.S. this fall, roughly 1.6 million fewer mothers were in the labor force than expected. But amid the struggles, we are seeing signs of a C-suite shift, with more women moving into the top executive ranks during the pandemic even as hiring at this level took a dip initially, according to recent data.
14. Instead of living ‘above the store,’ we’ll live in it
It’s been an especially rough year for brick and mortar retailers. The pandemic sent shock waves through the industry, with reduced foot traffic in stores and a rapid shift to online retail options. The result? Record-breaking store closures and a fresh wave of retail bankruptcies.
All of this leaves one sticky question: What do we do with all the vacant retail space?
One option: Turn empty stores into housing. For years, urban planners have advocated for a shift towards more community-focused city centers, a more seamless blending of where people work, shop, spend their free time and where they sleep. Converting retail into housing could be seen as a next step in this movement, where spaces evolve to suit the shifting needs of the community. And some cities have already begun. In Eindhoven in the Netherlands, the city council has begun to offer subsidies to encourage its citizens to live above retailers or convert shops into housing.
15. K-shaped recovery will send companies to court the wealthy
The global pandemic has created “a tale of two cities,” investor and philanthropist David Rubenstein told LinkedIn News: “The people at the top are just doing spectacularly well; the rest are falling further and further behind.”
As that K-shaped bifurcation continues in the wake of the pandemic, companies will be forced to follow the money in order to thrive — or even survive. Operate a movie theater that has been sitting largely empty? Private screenings might fill the gap, as cinema chain AMC and others are piloting. Hotel chains are courting well-to-do workers seeking private offices overlooking the beach, a trend that could continue for years.
No matter how you’re feeling, everyone is in charge of their own destiny and that everyone can learn how to live a great life.
If you feel things are not going the way you want them to go, then change it! You can improve your life and how you perceive it by taking part in different actions.
Big Ideas that will change our Life in 2021
16. Be more confident.
Lead to someone being too shy to do what they want or need.
Force someone to do things they hate.
Cause someone to ruin a meeting, job possibility, and so on.
Lead to unhappiness.
On the flip side, confidence can open many doors for you.
It can lead to getting the job you want, making more money, reaching your dreams, meeting new people, networking, traveling the world, and more.
17. Be thankful for what you have.
I suggest you try to remember all of the positive and good in your life. You already live a great life, you just need to remember that.
This is the power of positive thinking at its best.
You can be thankful for your family, friends, job, a past experience, opportunities, and more.
18. Start investing.
In 2021, I want you to start investing if you haven’t done so yet.
You want to invest your money so that you can:
Retire one day.
Prepare for unexpected events in the future.
Allow your money to grow over time.
19. Be kind to others.
You should always be kind to others. This can help both you and others live a great life. Being kind can open your mind, help you stop dwelling on negative things in life, brighten someone’s day, and more.
You can be kind to others by doing things such as:
Say hello to every person you walk by today.
20. Open doors for others.
Smile at strangers.
Help someone with their groceries.
21. Reach your goals in 2021.
Those who set goals are much more likely to be successful than those who do not.
To reach your goals in 2021, you’ll want to:
Review the previous year along with your previous goals and objectives.
Make sure your goal is SMART.
Write down your goals and objectives for 2021.
Create a plan to reach your life goals.
22. Smile more.
Smiling is contagious and is very important if you want to live a great life in 2021!
Smile at the next person you pass, smile when you’re talking on the phone, smile when your loved one comes home, smile in an interview, and more.
23. Don’t be afraid of what people think.
This has really helped me learn how to live a great life.
You shouldn’t let the opinions of others affect you, drag you down, control you, and so on. Like I always say “Who cares!?”
Why should the opinions of others matter to you? And, because everyone is different, all that should matter is what is right for you.
24. Spend less time watching TV.
I bring this up a lot on Making Sense of Cents, but this statistic is just crazy-
Our minds are greatly influenced by what we see on TV. Plus, watching TV can be a big time waster and can be detrimental if you want to live a great life.
Instead of turning on the TV the next time you are bored or looking for something to do, you may want to do something more worthwhile, such as working out, spending time with friends and family, reading a book, and so on.
25. Look for ways to save more money.
Looking for ways to save more money may allow you to pay off your debt quicker, improve your financial habits, help you reach your dream sooner, and more.
Plus, there are many, many different ways to save money. You don’t need to sacrifice your favorite things or live an unhappy life in order to save money.
It’s all about being realistic and finding a good balance between saving and spending.
26. Take a risk.
Have you ever thought about doing something particularly risky but were too afraid to go for it?
Well, 2021 may be your year! Or, at least maybe you can start planning to take that risk?
Doing something risky every so often can get your heart beating and your adrenaline rushing. This can really make you feel alive and like you are in charge of your life.
27. Realize that it’s okay to fail.
If you’re taking risks or trying new things, there is a chance that you may fail.
But, that’s completely okay!
You won’t know if something will work or not unless you try it, and sometimes failure is just a part of the learning process.
28. Create a budget.
The average family carries a lot of financial stress. Most people have student loans, credit card debt, a mortgage, car loans, and sometimes other forms of debt.
However, not many people have a budget.
In fact, 68% of households in the U.S. do not prepare a budget.
Budgeting can help you take control of your finances, which can then help reduce stress and allow you to reach your dreams. Having a budget is crucial if you want to live a great life.
29. Say yes.
If you often find that you’re hiding from everyone and you feel like you are stuck, you may want to try branching out and saying yes more often.
Saying yes can open you up to more situations, help you grow as a person, and so on.
30. Say no.
If you say yes to everything, but you are ready to pull your hair out, then you may want to start saying no. No one wants to be walked on or spread too thin, and you also don’t want to be holding yourself back from the things that you truly want to do in life.
Saying no may allow you to have more time to focus on what you truly want from life.
31. Don’t let life pass you by.
It can be really easy to let life pass you by. Before you know it, years or even decades may be gone.
Too many people have the mindset of “Oh, in 10 years life will be so much better because of such and such.” And then, they just let their lives go by without ever thinking about the present.
Well, what about now?!
10 years is a long time!
Reaching a goal is great, but you should always make sure you are living life to the fullest (on a budget, of course).
32. Cherish moments with loved ones.
You should never take a moment for granted with those that you love. This will sound very doom and gloom, but you just never know what may happen to you or them.
Plus, spending time with your loved ones is always a great time, so why not just do it more?!
33. Pay off debt.
Paying off your debt can lessen your stress levels, allow you to put more money towards something else (such as retirement), stop paying interest fees, and more.
Debt can hold a person back significantly, and by paying off your debt you may be able to live the life that you’ve always wanted.
Let’s make 2021 the year that we finally get rid of our debt or at least work our way towards eliminating it!
34. Exercise more in 2021.
Whenever I’m feeling a little stressed out, tired, or even grumpy, I try to fit in a workout. I know that even a small workout is better than none.
Exercising is great and it can improve your life because it can make you healthier all around. You will feel more confident, your mind will be clearer, you will be able to better cope with stress, and more.
35. Increase your credit score.
If you need a loan for anything in the future, you can do easy things to increase your credit score. Watch your utilization rate on your credit cards, pay your bills on time, watch the amount of hard inquiries on your credit report, and so on.
Your credit score is important because it can affect your interest rate and whether or not you will get approved for a loan.
36. Don’t keep up with the Joneses.
Whether you are five years old and want that new toy everyone is playing with, or if you are 50 years old and are feeling the need to upgrade your house, car, etc., everyone has experienced wanting to keep up with someone else.
The problem with this is that keeping up with the Joneses can actually make you broke.
When trying to keep up with the Joneses, you might spend money you do not have. You might put expenses on credit cards to (in a pretend world) “afford” things. You might buy things that you do not care about. The problems can go on and on.
37. Find something good in a negative situation.
There may even be some good in a bad experience, even though it can be hard to think about the positive while you are experiencing something negative.
Through the power of positive thinking, you can use a bad experience to learn something new about yourself, to realize you made a mistake, to come up with a new plan you never thought of before, and more.
Taking the negative and turning it into a learning experience can help prevent a negative situation from happening again. Or, maybe next time you’ll be more prepared!
38. Travel to a random place.
There are many wonderful places in the world. Traveling to a random place can help improve your confidence, open you up to new experiences, and may even make you a little uncomfortable- and sometimes that’s okay.
39. Create a bucket list.
If you don’t have a bucket list, I recommend creating one now! In case you are unaware, a bucket list is where you list all of the major goals you want to meet, places you want to visit, and things you want to do in your life.
Creating a bucket list can give you the motivation you need to work harder towards your dreams, it can give you a sense of direction, and a great feeling of fulfillment as you complete each amazing thing you want to do.
40. Welcome the unknown.
Some people like to ignore the unknown because they are afraid of it. However, you’ll never know what your future holds unless you try new things and welcome different experiences.
When looking forward, you should make a realistic plan for what may happen once you start taking steps to reach your goal. This may make the whole thing much more relaxing and less stressful because you will be more prepared for the unknown.
For example, if you want to leave your job for something else but are afraid of what may happen, one thing you might want to do is to make sure you have a well-funded emergency fund. This way, if it takes you a little longer to find your dream job or dream life, your emergency fund will be there to help ease some of the stress.
41. Be Open minded to live a great life.
Being open minded is a great quality. There are billions of people in this world and everyone is different, so instead of judging others we should be more open minded.
And, everyone can stand to be a little more open minded.
Being open minded can help you accept changes, love others, be optimistic, learn from others, and most of all, it’s relaxing. Instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing, you can relax, have less stress, and just accept those around you.
42. Drink more water to live a great life.
According to Lifehacker, the average person should drink around 9 to 13 cups of water per day. This is just a baseline, though, as if you exercise or are in hot weather, then you should consume more.
However, not many people get anywhere near this amount of water.
Drinking water can help you lose weight, perform better, be happier, prevent headaches, help your skin, and is a must for your body to survive.
43. Make more money.
Here on Making Sense of Cents, I spend a lot of time discussing extra income, side hustles, side income, and how to make money online. I believe that earning extra income can completely change your life in a positive way. You can stop living paycheck to paycheck, pay off your debt, and more, all by earning extra money.
44. Spend less time on social media.
The average person spends many, many hours on social media each week.
Between Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many others it can be quite easy to waste your entire day.
45. Don’t be afraid to be successful.
When some people become successful and reach their goals, they occasionally start feeling guilty.
Yes, I know, this might seem weird. However, I understand this.
46. Sit silently.
When was the last time you just sat down in complete silence with no distractions? For the average person, this is probably a rare occurrence.
Sitting silently can help you reflect on your life and what’s going on in the world around you. It can also help you relax, destress, and clear your mind.
47. Have an emergency fund.
An emergency fund is something that I believe everyone should have. However, according to a report byBankrate.com, 26% of Americans have no emergency fund whatsoever.
This same report stated that only 40% of families have enough in savings to cover three months of expenses, with an even lower percentage having the recommended six months worth of savings.
This is frightening to me, as having an emergency fund can really help you get through tough parts of your life.
An emergency fund can help you if you lose your job, if your hours are cut back, if you have an unexpected expense, and so on.
48. Stay motivated.
Even with how much I love saving money, every now and then it becomes easy to get unmotivated and want to SPEND ALL THE MONEY!
I’m sure I’m not alone either.
While many choose to live a frugal life, it’s not always easy. Some have large amounts of debt to pay off, others find it hard to stick to a budget, and more.
Finding financial motivators will help you continue to work hard towards your goal, even when it seems impossible. Without motivation, one might give up on a financial goal quite easily. This is why it’s so important to learn how to stay motivated.
49. Do what YOU want to do.
What makes you happy, excited, joyful, and motivated? That’s what you should be doing with your life (as long as it’s legal)!
Stop thinking about what other people want you to do and start listening to your heart. Who cares about what others think? If you spend all your time thinking about others, you will just be wasting a ton of time!
If you want to live a life of adventure – Go for it.
If you want to start a family – Start planning one.
If you want a better job – Get one.
If you want to change the world – Do it.
50. Read as much as you can.
I’ll admit it, I don’t read as many books as I would like to.
I’m so focused on reading about personal finance, but I know I need to occasionally take a break and do some reading for pleasure.
Reading is great for many reasons, such as:
Improving your memory.
Opening your mind.
Bringing out your creative side.
It is affordable entertainment.
51. Think positively.
I say this often, and I believe it.
Thinking positively can greatly improve your life and your outlook on life. Being positive can help motivate you, it can help you to not waste time on regret, and more.
52. Don’t waste time on being negative.
You are wasting your time when you are being negative.
Instead of wasting your energy on things like dwelling on regret and/or gossiping, you can be more productive by using this time for things that actually matter.
53. Find free forms of entertainment.
Someone once told me how expensive it was to have fun. They were telling me about all of their debt and everything that goes along with it, then they also told me that their monthly “fun” budget was around $500.
54. Stop letting money control you.
If you want to gain control of your life and make 2021 a great year, then you need to gain control of your money.
This means you need to stop worrying about all of the things that are holding you back. Instead, create an action plan so that the littlest things do not tear you down or stress you out.
55. Get enough sleep each night.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average person needs around 7.5 hours of sleep in order to “function at their best.” However, the average person actually only sleeps around 6.5 hours.
Lack of sleep, according to HealthLine, can lead to issues such as:
Impaired brain activity
Cold and Flu
Type 2 Diabetes
High blood pressure
Due to this, you should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.