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.
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:
- I finally put a11y.coffee into the world. It’s a small, digestible resource site answering the question, “What is web accessibility and how do I get started?”
- Work was a struggle, and ate up an enormous amount of my emotional bandwidth this year. Myself and some (former) co-workers wrote and signed an open letter to the Gatsby community. I don’t know what else to say, really. I’m grateful for my time at Gatsby, and made some invaluable friendships and connections in that time. Ultimately though, it became clear that it was time to move on and start fresh.
- I started a new gig. I’ve been there now for a couple of months, and I’m quite happy there. It’s the most diverse and collaborative team I’ve had the opportunity to work on. I feel a renewed sense of belief in my skills, value, and overall self-worth.
- Prior to March, I began strength training again, and was really enjoying it. Then, pandemic and gym shutdowns. Although gyms reopened, a combination of loss of momentum and uncertainty about whether it was safe to go killed my progress (or rather, I allowed it to derail me completely). I wasn’t able to effectively transition to a consistent home routine.
- I did a shit ton of walking. I listened to music, I listened to podcasts, I listened to nothing but my own thoughts. Walking was my primary coping mechanism this year.
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).
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.
- Identity: I am a reflective person.
- Process: I take a brief moment every day to reflect and journal.
- Identity: I am a thoughtful member of my community.
- Process: I recurringly support organizations doing good in my community, support many levels of journalism, and help my neighbors.
- Identity: I strength train.
- Process: I strength train twice a week.
- Identity: I am a student of yoga.
- Process: I show up to my mat every day.
- Identity: I am a writer.
- Process: I write for ten minutes or more every day.
- Identity: I am a reader.
- Process: I read for ten minutes or more every day.
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.
I do want to set a few concrete, binary goals:
- Launch my first small digital product offering. (Inspired by @swyx via @dvassallo).
- 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.
- Send holiday cards. Several friends sent them this year, and I genuinely enjoyed receiving them.