At the start of every year many people – myself included – evaluate the previous year to see how they measured up and to revisit or set goals.

The evaluation and goal-setting may be different this time. The lens in which we review the past year, for instance, is through the murky glass of the coronavirus pandemic. We cannot blame ourselves for some of the goals not achieved, the places not visited, the family and friends not seen, and the business successes that were not attained in 2020. We blame the pandemic.

The impact it has had on many people and their livelihoods took centerstage; and many are still adjusting to restrictions. Looking ahead, we may wonder what goals should be set for the new year when we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.

I get it, and have harbored similar thoughts – until a friend, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask, stood at my doorstep one evening bearing a Christmas gift.

During our socially-distanced conversation he referred to the nationwide progress of the vaccination against COVID-19, saying it was a “silver lining” amid many months of uncertainty.

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I found myself so focused on the daily COVID numbers broadcast and printed in the news that I hadn’t looked at the bigger picture of where we are now, how far we have come, until that moment. The impact of that simple phrase, “silver lining,” made me start looking to the new year through yet a different lens. This one of hope.

The dictionary describes the word “resolution” as being “a firm decision to do or not do something,” and as “the quality of being determined or resolute.”

Despite the challenges the pandemic has caused for a great many people, I have seen many people tackle the pandemic with determination and the decision to make the best of an unwelcome situation.

Some silver linings from the business world are the restaurant owners who have stepped up to help their communities by offering discounts and, in some cases, free meals for health care workers; regional architects and designers who continue to explore new ways to design buildings for a post-pandemic world; the many businesses large and small that have adopted new ways of doing things to still connect with their clients, customers and students; and the companies, mine included, that have looked for ways to adjust and remain relevant without foregoing their most valuable asset, their employees.

Times have been tough – and they still are – but as time marches on things will get better. Silver linings are all around us if we look for them, and they can give us hope. For those business professionals in the region who color the gloom with silver, thank you. As another friend used to tell me, “Keep on keeping on!”

Prairie Business Editor Andrew Weeks may be reached at 701-780-1276 or

Andrew Weeks
Andrew Weeks