The KALM Way to Put 2020 Behind You

It’s safe to say that most of us think 2020 was a rough year, to put it politely. Most of the articles I’ve read are either laced with despair ( 2021 might suck as well, etc. ) or profanity (even for non-profits). HappyWisdomers know better than to fall into these traps of negativity. Yes, we need to feel 2020, to understand and embrace the loss, no matter what it was. Then, we’ll need to move on, and I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to 2020 than a KALM retrospective.


In Agile coaching, we have an exercise we called KALM we use to review, course correct, and celebrate during the project. It’s an acronym for Keep, Add, Less of, And More of. This device is useful during retrospectives to keep them focused and generative, so I thought I’d apply the same to this astonishing year we are just finishing up.

How to run this exercise:

  1. Get the biggest piece of paper you can find
  2. Find folks to do it with if you can (This works fine online)
  3. Draw five segments on the paper, as shown in the above graphic.
  4. Go bottom to top, putting sticky notes on each, with a brief verbal description if you have others doing it with you.

Easy, right? Once it’s set up, just run through each segment. I suggest you time box each section and start with the Less Of. No one wants to wallow in the pain, so ensure this part is given only 1/6th of the time allotted to the event. So if you have 1 hour, I’d put ten minutes here, and then distribute the remaining 50 elsewhere.

Then you just move through the model. I like to go bottom-up, so Keep (what was good about the year, a just-right sort of vibe?), More (what you want to do more of, amplify?), and Add (what new thing do you want to start doing, seeing, or happening?)

Let’s get going with the 2020 KALM Retrospective!

As stated, we could start with Less Of, the easiest part of this model in a year such as 2020. If we’re trying to say goodbye to 2020, we have to start here:

Less Of from 2020

  • Death and disease
  • Strife, division, and violence
  • People losing jobs
  • Murder hornets
  • Masks
  • ….

I mean, we could add a bunch of specifics, but I’m not here to bring anyone down, and frankly, we all know the list. Try asking yourself what of those events you could have controlled? Probably not much. Time to move on.

Keep from 2020

This might give you pause. Keep? 2020? For me, I’d like to keep time with my family. I was lucky enough to live with others in 2020, and we spent A LOT of time together, including my adult children. Kids grow up too fast. This is known, so getting to hang out with them a bit longer than might have happened is a GREAT thing.. Funny thing is that I can’t keep this. They’re moving on, but I can try.

Lack of commuting – I work remote. I LOVE not facing traffic.

Easier budgeting – I have to say when you can’t go anywhere, its easier to budget.

More than what I got from 2020

I want more time without the existential dread of a disease or political conflict. I’m a writer, so I need big chunks of uninterrupted time. I’ve gotten those, but they weren’t as effective as the past with a full house and the aforementioned dread. My upcoming science-fiction epic is thus going slowly.

Using my SPARC model, you know that the R is rest and rejuvenation. I want more of those. I’m a simple guy, so movies and gyms are usually enough. Both have been cut out of my life. I want them back.

Add – Adding something new to 2021

This one is easy. We have been planning for and saving for an international vacation, which was supposed to be in 2020. Well, that didn’t happen, so ’21 it is. Honestly, we can’t control much of what will go into this, from when we get the vaccine to what countries will allow Americans to visit. Nevertheless, we can pray, cast positive vibes out into the Universe, and hope for the best. We also have some big family changes that I can’t go into now, but that should soon be a big addition. 🙂

I feel better after writing this, and I hope this KALM exercise does the same for you. We’re not trying to hide the past or deemphasis the difficulties. By doing this exercise, we give these negatives space, time and then escort them out of our lives. I think of a Viking burial – the raft of badness floats out to the ocean, and we shoot one last flaming arrow and watch it burn into oblivion.

Goodbye to 2020!

Happy 2021!

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