In review: 2020

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.
— Leon C. Megginson

Every year at this time, I take stock of my life over the past year.

I review: what did I say I wanted to do? Did I did it? Were there wins or losses? How could I have improved?

When I did this exercise last year, I didn’t lay out many publicly stated goals. Instead, I wrote this:

“My goal is to be unrecognizable at this time next year versus who I am at this moment. I am ready to put my past behind me, and move toward a more consistent and stable future.”

I was serious about taking this year by the horns, but I had a much different scenario in mind. Instead, this year has been mostly about survival. Since March, we in the United States have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. My plan is to write more about my personal experience with the pandemic later. For now, I’ll just say the year was all about survival.

That’s not to say it wasn’t without some accomplishments. For starters, in April I put in new flooring in our bathroom, replacing carpet that had been in there likely since the house was built (gross). I also changed the paint in the bathroom from a dull brown to a less-dull “agreeable gray” color. I like it.

 

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In June, I replaced our deck floor with the help of my wife. Although difficult, it was a most satisfying project.

 

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I tore my right meniscus in late 2019, and decided to get it surgically repaired in July.

 

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After my surgery, I ended up taking quite a few walks during the summer. I spent time with the family more than ever. My wife and I went on many dates throughout the year. In August, I had a goal of filling all my rings on the Apple Watch for the month, and I accomplished that (if you’re an Apple Watch user, you know how addictive that can be).

I paid off my car loan in September. In October, my wife was rear-ended, which ended up totaling the car. She had a few minor injuries, but I believe she is all healed up now.

 

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A totaled car led to my most fun purchase yet: a truck. I have enjoyed driving a truck so much that I can’t believe I waited this long to get one. I’m usually against gas guzzling vehicles, and look forward to a future when electric or more fuel-efficient trucks make greater strides. But man, this thing is fun and ever so useful.

 

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In December, I made a workbench, setting me up for some projects to work on in the coming year. It sure was nice having a truck to get all the lumber in the back to build it.

 

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At the start of the year, I started a savings experiment. I took my empty Ally bank account, and then saved $2 incrementally.I receive two paychecks a month. For the first paycheck, I put $2 in savings, then $4. I did this to make it feel like I was getting paid weekly. It kind of nonsensical, but I did it for the sake of this experiment.

So, by the end of month one, I had $20 saved. I kept going. I was diligent. Even with the pandemic, and the fear of uncertainty, I kept at it. In February, I added $10, $12, $14, and $16. By the end of February, I was up to $72. Now, fast-forward to November: I kept at it all this time. The interest rates are crap, but anything added was fine for this experiment.

Of course, it got tougher the deeper into the year I got because the weekly numbers were higher. I pressed on. By the time it was time to do Christmas shopping, I stopped saving. I started with $2, and ended with $1,859.28.

Christmas gifts are all paid for. I won’t be carrying holiday debt into 2021. I feel awesome about that.

And now, we’re ticking down to the end of the year. We’ll spend New Year’s Eve at home as a family, watch the ball drop, and prepare for 2021 and whatever it brings.

Goals for 2021

There’s clearly going to be a lot more of the same until the COVID-19 vaccine gets distributed. I worked a lot this year, and mostly from home. I see that continuing until at least summer of 2021, perhaps even later.

I will re-start my saving plan just as I did this year. That was an awesome experiment, and once that paid off big time around Christmas. I might tweak it a little bit, but it’ll be largely the same concept.

I’ve managed to set up a kind of makeshift gym in the basement, and the plan is to build on what I was doing during the summer throughout the winter. I’ve been complacent in the colder months, but now I really have little excuse to become more active.

Most important, my goal is to keep doing whatever it is we are doing to keep my family safe and healthy. I will continue to work hard at my job, be safe, stay at home when we can, wear masks, and wash our hands with vigor. After that, we wait to see how this pandemic pans out.

If 2020 was about surviving, then 2021 will be about finding ways to thrive.

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