From the Blog

“What a year!”

What 2020 taught me

by Brad Thomas


You would be hard pressed to find a human being or business that hasn’t been impacted by the year that was. YakTrak and our team are no exception.

I could write about how amazing our team has been with the transition to working from home and handling it all like absolute champs. I could talk about how lucky we are to have a product that, unbeknown to us at inception, supports organisations working from home during a pandemic.

I could even talk about how COVID forced us to critically analyse our business strategy and what we have learned this year. But there is already a lot out there for those who need it.

Though we are fortunate to have an amazing team at YakTrak who just got on with it, for me this year has been about learning how to reconnect with my family.

To put that into context, in my consulting career, I spent at least seven years travelling for six months of the year. I did that during the most difficult times for any family: the birth of two sons, home renovations and leaving my family living with my parents (one with Alzheimer’s) whilst I jetted about. I missed out on a lot, but not as much as my wife missed out on.

I watched my wife give up her career and many other things to support me and the family.

I justified it by saying, “This will set us up for years to come,” and “Short term pain, long term gain.”

My mum tells a story about how my father (who also travelled a lot for work) came home one day after a long trip, knocked on the door (because his keys were in the bottom of his bag) and I (as a four-year-old) called out, “Hey Mum, that strange man is back.”

We decided four years ago that the travel had to stop.

It was great spending more time at home but that extra time soon got sucked into all things YakTrak. Our business was growing, what option did I have?

As it turns out, there are many options.

Our priority shifted due to COVID. Keep the family safe.

I cut my hours back to a normal working week. I got stuck into making school lunches every morning and doing the school run (when they could go to school). When they were home-schooled, I helped the kids with their schoolwork. I started cooking dinner most nights.

I’d love to say I loved every minute of it but that would be a lie. It’s bloody hard work. “I love making school lunches!” said no one ever. But at least we started getting our household closer to a 50:50 split and watching my wife slowly get her career back has been brilliant.

This isn’t a post about how wonderful I am for finally pulling my weight around the house – I should have done that from the start. Rather, it’s about small changes and the big differences that they can make. It doesn’t have to be a big change. A small step may start with just saying “yes” to your kids when they ask you to spend time with them.

Our family still has a way to go but we are heading in the right direction.

So, what did I learn this year?

  • There is always another option. Take the one that is right for your family.
  • I am not immune to mental health and wellbeing challenges.
  • It is okay to take ‘me’ time to do things that are not work-related.
  • Work on your hobbies. (For me, learning a new song on the guitar and getting back to building furniture worked wonders.)
  • Sometimes, the problem is you, not everyone else. (I’m still working on that one.)
  • If your business relies too heavily on you to succeed, it (and you) will be screwed.

Social media is full of posts telling you what you need to do to build a great business and be successful. There is certainly no shortage of “specialists” willing to impart their knowledge for a small fee.

I read a post the other day that said you must “work when everyone else is sleeping, invest when everyone else is spending, so you can enjoy the life that everyone else dreams of.” What worries me is how many people liked, shared and commented on how spot on it was.

I reckon if you’re doing it that way, you’re doing it wrong. The intention is sound, but we only ever hear about the upside of doing that. The downside is not widely shared or discussed. Sure, work hard, but when the trade-off is everything else in your life, it’s bad advice for many and potentially dangerous for some.

Thank you for your support of YakTrak in 2020. I hope we can all find our own ways to balance and recharge over the holiday season. I’m looking forward to sharing a happy, safe and healthy 2021 with you.


Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash