A [honest] reflection on 2021

Firstly, let me say I am glad to see the back of 2021.   The end of the year has been very challenging, and not in a good way, including significant family health problems in December and a bout of Covid over Xmas.  Looking back at the year in general I find it difficult to actually find much positive to reflect on.   As such will just be glad to see 2021 draw to close and will have my fingers firmly crossed that 2022 will be a better year.

Beer anyone?

So, reflecting on my pledges seems like a good place to start in reviewing 2021.   Back in Jan 2021 I suggested having a dry January or at least 1 dry month, free of alcohol at some point during 2021.   I will admit I never got close to this and as the year draws to a close am drinking more.   I put some of this down to stress however also admit that a beer is one of the few vices I have so think it is fair to have at least some, hopefully balanced, drink based enjoyment and relaxation.   This, however, is something I want to address in 2022 although am not sure a dry January is possible.

Time for a book

My reading in 2021 continued with more than 12 books read across the year.   This has been a pattern now for a couple of years and I do wonder if now I am reading just to meet the target rather than for the enjoyment or to gain new insight or knowledge.   My reading has very much been non-fiction so this is something I need to consider.   I think maybe adding some fiction to my reading list, just to mix things up might be a good way forward.

Running man

If there was one area where I think I did reasonably well in 2021 it was in my running.   By the end of the year I had run over 750km during the year, way more than the 500km I predicted.   I think I am healthier for it.   I will admit my runs lacked much consistency although I did achieve consistency where it counted in simply getting out and running in the morning throughout most of 2021.   Going forward I may need to find some new running routes possibly or some other way to keep my running fresh and interesting rather than just a chore.

In need of a holiday

Again, the pandemic put paid to any breaks or holidays away so when I look back the year seems to have gone reasonably quickly.  I suspect this is largely due to everything becoming routine so lacking in any significant memorable moments in order to mark the passage of time throughout the year.   I suspect this further adds to my feeling of 2021 as a bad year for me as there is simply little to look back on where I am happy to have achieved something or have enjoyed a specific event, break or holiday.

Connecting and contributing

This year saw me start sharing some little 10min podcast episodes in addition to my usual blogging.   I had been considering doing this for some time but never got around to it until late on in 2021.  This is something I want to continue to produce and hopefully build on in future.     I also finally got back to a face to face conference, in the schools and academies show, where I presented an EdTech focussed session.   The other face to face conference I was due to be involved in, was sadly cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.     

2021 also saw a lost family contact reach out to me.   I had held off reaching out myself for reasons which are my own, however for them to reach out allowed contact to be established and hopefully this is something which can be slowly developed and worked on in 20222.

Take notice

I kept a journal over the course of 2021 and this is something I may reflect on in more detail in future.   I think if there is anything consistent that can be taken from my notes it’s a sense of frustration and a lack of progress.   I note I even mentioned feeling depressed with things on a number of occasions.   I think this about typifies the year as I see it.

Mental Health

This links to the point above.   A lot of 2021 felt like simply going through the motions.   It was busy.  Things got done.  But did I draw much enjoyment from things?   I think generally I didn’t.   It was generally “run of the mill” processes.   I wonder though whether the ongoing news broadcasting regarding the pandemic and the restrictive measures being put in place, and generally depressing news played into this, making me feel more depressed than I maybe had done in previous, non-pandemic, years.    I also wonder whether a certain amount of isolation on my part, with a limited friends group unlike when I lived in the UAE and had a large friends group, also plays its part here, only added to by the isolating impact of the pandemic.    I will admit that I need to consider my own mental health;   My exercising is part of it, however generating positive memorable moments, having enjoyable activities planned, and much more also goes into establishing positive mental health.   It may just be that doing this, in the current context of the UK and the world may just be that little bit more difficult.


When I look back to January 2021 I mentioned that I suspected 2021 was “Likely to start of[sic] challenging”.   I think the reality is that it didn’t merely start off challenging but continued to be challenging throughout the year, ending on a month of very significant challenges.   Am I happy on reflection with 2021?   Sadly, I think the answer is no.   It seemed to pass quickly which I believe suggests it was devoid of many memorable, positive moments.   If I was trying to sum it up in a phrase it might be that 2021 “wasn’t anything to write home about”.   I also acknowledge I considered myself depressed at various points in the year and this might colour my reflection.   I will also admit there were some positives, its just that they were subsumed in the general negativity of the year in general.

2022 is a new year.   It’s an opportunity to start afresh.   So with that, I will shortly close the door on 2021 and hopefully move forward into 2022 with an aim to make the year a better one.

Happy new year to all when it arrives and may you all have a great year, stay safe and remain well.


Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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