Having begun as any other, the year quickly spiraled into unknown territory – leaving most of the world reeling and struggling to make sense of cancelled plans, ever-shifting futures and generally upturned lives.
Yet according to a recent independent online survey, commissioned by Sanlam and completed by over 5,000 people of all ages and walks of life, the vast majority of South Africans are determined to glean all the silver linings they can out of an otherwise stormy 2020.
“Again and again, South Africans prove they are able to turn any obstacle into an opportunity,” says Sanlam Chief Executive of Brand, Sydney Mbhele.
Indeed, a staggering 93% of respondents conceded that they’d learnt valuable lessons this year that they did not ever want to forget. Among them, the most common ones included: not taking anything for granted (78%), the importance of saving for a ‘rainy day’ (67%), and the recognition that we are stronger and more resilient than we tend to think (59%).
In addition, 83% of respondents indicated that they had picked up some new, positive habits during lockdown and just over half (53%) had successfully broken at least one bad habit during the same time period. The top 5 lifestyle changes that respondents want to hold on to include:
1. Spending more quality time with family (69%).
2. Spending more time in the comfort of their homes (54%).
3. Prioritizing self-care and time for personal growth and development.
4. Getting a better handle on their finances and sticking to a budget (53%).
5. Creating healthy boundaries (53%).
“These results show us just how resilient we are as South Africans. A nation that hasn’t let the challenges and curveballs 2020 has thrown our way get the better of us, but instead let them make us better,” continues Mbhele.
A sentiment further demonstrated by the 90% of respondents who said that they had used their time in lockdown to improve or learn new skills. Topping the list, perhaps unsurprisingly given the stream of banana bread images that flooded our social feeds, was cooking or baking, with 63% ending the year with new and improved culinary skills as the chefs of their own kitchens. While a further 30% chose to lean into their creative talents by upskilling themselves in photography, painting, drawing or writing. Education was also a standout theme with 18% having completed a course online, and another 9% had learnt a new language or musical instrument.
Mbhele says he hopes that South Africans are as encouraged as he is by this survey, adding: “With these insights fresh in our minds, and as we continue to reflect on our positive experiences and achievements over the last few months, let’s really make the most of it by turning our lessons into opportunities for our future.”
“At Sanlam, we believe that now is the perfect time to make new plans. That’s what we do every day, and as we better understand what people are experiencing, what they value most and what their dreams and hopes are, we’re even better equipped to help people live their best possible lives by empowering them to reach their goals and fulfil new ambitions.”
Perhaps most inspiring, the survey also asked South Africans what lesson they hope South Africa (as a nation) can hold onto when the lockdown is long over. Over 2 000 respondents (just over 40%) concurred with this one:
That we’re stronger when we act together.