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Amberley Romo

Year in Review: 2020

At the risk of being overly optimistic (days yet to go, after all), I’ve survived 2020. What a bastard.

The years always surprise us, and look a little (or a lot) differently than we hope or plan for. But 2020 was in a league of its own. For everything that happened last year, I feel like I was pretty lucky. I’m an introvert — my extroverted friends struggled far more with social distancing. (And my partner found out he’s more of an extrovert than he realized). I was already a remote tech worker — I didn’t have to suddenly adjust to a new style of work culture. My partner did, but we were able to convert our guest bedroom to a second office, so we got to have our own dedicated work space (after originally switching off AM/PM in my office, which was challenging). I tried to do what I could to help my community.

This year felt like such a bizarre departure from reality that reflecting on goals or hopes I held at the beginning of 2020 feels a bit weird, frankly. So I’m just going to keep it short.

2020 rearview

In previous years, I called these annual reflection posts “The Road So Far”. I started writing them the year I decided to do a bootcamp. This would be the sixth. I’ve decided not to frame it as “time since the bootcamp” anymore — I worked on the web long before that, and it’s arbitrary and unnecessary. So now, these will simply be annual reflections.

The goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2020 were overly general, and I don’t think turned out the best for me — I didn’t particularly excel at anything, but I made it through. For 2020, I’m alright with that.

I’ll just leave this at a few cliff notes:

That’s gonna be it on that. It’s been the longest and the shortest year. Overall I’m extremely grateful to work in a resilient, remote-friendly industry (in the context of the pandemic).

2021 ahead

I listened to a podcast recently that helped pull into focus how I wanted to approach goal-setting for 2021. I’m a personal finance and budgeting nerd — specifically, of the YNAB (You Need a Budget) persuasion. Thus, I was catching up on the YNAB podcast, and listened to an episode with Robyn Conley Downs on “Budgeting with Self Care”. I happen to also be finishing up rereading Atomic Habits, which seems to be organically becoming an unofficial end of year tradition for me. The episode led me to buy Conley Downs’ book, The Feel Good Effect.

I tend toward perfectionism, which can pull me into a cycle of procrastination and “all or nothing”-ism. “If I can’t do it perfectly, why do it at all?” Consciously I understand, and have done plenty of reading about, how damaging this mindset is. Yet every year (in in mini-cycles throughout the year) I tend to swing from “all” to “nothing”, on and on ad infinitum.

Main focus: Systems as goals

This year, inspired by the combination of Conley Downs’ approach, and my reread of Atomic Habits, I’m going to mainly focus on a 2021 theme of “microevolution of the self”, focusing entirely on identity and systems, and minimally on explicit outcomes.

You do need outcome-based goals to drive improvement, but I’ve never struggled to set those types of goals (as is common). This year I’m going to focus on everything that comes before outcomes. My goal here is sort of to create some new raw habit-generated energy that I can later apply more strategically, and for now just see what comes of it.

To support these efforts, I’ll use a combination of habit stacking and calendar blocking. I’ll track these yes/no binaries in my habit tracking app, Habit Hub.

Specific goals

I do want to set a few concrete, binary goals:

  1. Launch my first small digital product offering. (Inspired by @swyx via @dvassallo).
  2. Get professional photos / headshots done. I’ve avoided the camera like the plague (lol what an outdated phrase now) my entire life. I keep waiting for the right time to do this — I need to just do it.
  3. Send holiday cards. Several friends sent them this year, and I genuinely enjoyed receiving them.