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Was 2022 the Year of Resilience?

When HBR asked readers what they learned in 2022, among the most common responses was “resilience.” That seemed fitting as we closed out a year marked economic uncertainty as well as continuing pandemic losses. In this article, HBR readers share what resilience meant to them in 2022, and what else they learned in the past year.

At the end of each year, we editors like to ask HBR readers what their biggest insights are – what did you learn and what will you take away? The top word in so many of the entries reflecting on 2022 was resilience. That seems fitting as we continue to navigate fallout from a pandemic that turned life on its head and continues to do so.

As Bhawna Jha, an HBR reader in Little Rock, AR, put it: “While these years have been challenging and have tested us repeatedly, what made the mark was our resilience. We have emerged hopeful, more grounded, and humbled.”

Of course, Covid isn’t the only reason we’ve needed resilience. Whether it’s the economy, layoffs, war, or environmental crisis, challenges of all kinds have tested many of us. But the other words that leapt to the top of reader’s responses give hope that we have learned to weather uncertainty: flexibility, endurance, change, and agility all made the list several times.

This was also the year that “quiet quitting” (and its partner “quiet firing”) entered common conversation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, half of the top 10 most read articles on this year were about job searches, from how to answer common job interview questions to writing a cover letter.

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Here’s more of what readers had to say about 2022 as it draws to a close.

On Jobs, Layoffs, and Quiet Quitting

In hindsight, 2022 looks to me like a great readjustment. A lot of the people I work with are in tech or tech-enabled scaling businesses. They started the year on a high, proud of how well they had done throughout the pandemic. And rightly so. But then things started to crumble. This experience may drive talented people to re-evaluate what they want from their employer, and what that business stands for. People who lost their jobs are by and large finding work quite quickly, sometimes making a pivot they felt forced into, but that is proving a discovery. I think we’ll see people looking for work in unexpected places, changing the talent maps in 2023 significantly.
– Katrien Nachtergaele, Netherlands/Portugal

Be prepared. The only thing worse than being laid off is being blindsided by — and thus unprepared for — a sudden change in your unemployment status. If you don’t have all your numbers memorized, quantifying stuff on a resume is hard. Plus, there’s sample work you’d want, maybe that file of “feel good” emails you saved…woulda shoulda coulda…
-Nicole Comeau, Boston, MA

Quiet quitting isn’t aiming for mediocrity. It’s about setting boundaries. People are exhausted by doing tasks that involve far more hours than they are paid for. Tired of temporarily inheriting tasks in other people’s scope that are never handed back. Fed up with being expected to take on more and more with no end in sight, and no praise for having gone way beyond the job scope they were hired for.
-Carla Mollica, Sydney, Australia

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Covid in the Rear-View Mirror?

The pandemic shook health care to its core and as a result, 2022 was a year of new beginnings. Numerous nurses, technicians, and providers left their current jobs for a new start (often remaining in health care). As a result, I worked with a lot of teams in different stages of development, some very new, some more mature. I had to ensure my team had a foundation of trust, that they felt optimistic about their work, and that they understood the “why” of it. By focusing on these three things, we can rebuild, innovate, and excel in 2023.
-Amitpal S. Johal, MD, FASGE, Danville, PA

A lot of us believed that after Covid, we would go back to a way of living that is easy with a level of comfort we know. 2022 shook that idea. There is no such thing as going back and no such thing as a destination. Things were always in movement, just in a more subtle way. Coming “back” from Covid required a lot of work and adaptation to change. There has been no room to rest. The new normal became being highly adaptable to change and stopping to hope that things will settle. It became a constant flow of events and change.
-Orianne Gambino, Cape Town, South Africa

On Becoming Ourselves

Finally, readers shared how they came into their own in 2022, with lessons in strength and authenticity.

I realized that I genuinely proudly accept being a working single mom. My acceptance gave me more mental peace and professional confidence. I came across as genuine and as a true potential mentor, which I didn’t really have even though I’ve always been a social person.
-Donella Tilery, Raritan, New Jersey

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Age is my superpower. More people want my opinion and recommendation because I’ve done so much and been through so much and have the battle scars and resilience to prove it.
-Lee Caraher, Eau Claire, WI

This year I learnt that creating an environment of trust starts with trusting your team with more responsibility. The onus is on the leader to trust first, not for the team to trust the leader first.
-James Bland, Johannesburg, South Africa

Three Words for 2023?

If “resilience” is the word of 2022, HBR reader Daniel Dieso, of Kansas City, MO, has a punctuated suggestion for what lies ahead in 2023: “Inflation! Recession? Persistence.”

An accurate predication? We’ll find out next year. Until then, wishing you happiness and growth in 2023 and appreciation for all you’ve learned in 2022.

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