Hindsight Is 20/20 - Reflections on the Year Gone By

It was a challenging year, starting with lots of hopes for the new decade, and ending with lots of canceled plans instead. It was the year of paranoia. It went by so fast, yet it progressed so slowly. I would like to wrap up the year with an unordered but noteworthy list of thoughts, things I have done, experienced, enjoyed, learned in 2020.

Reflecting is a good way to re-evaluate what/why/how/when am I doing things. I was able to reflect on a regular cadence, course correct, and work towards my goals. I used to reflect before too, but this year I made a habit of doing it regularly. Rose also joined some of my sessions as a voice of reason, and she documented my thoughts and plans for me. Both having a second person and documenting helped with the effectiveness of the process. Next year, I could pick up on journaling to benefit more from writing things down.

I was able to read significantly more books in the past year than I hoped. Over the years, I refined my goal of reading more books, to reading one book a month, to reading 3% of a book each day. It turns out specific goals work, but bite-sized goals work better. And tracking, the satisfaction of checking a checkbox for each completed book and looking at the growing list, kept me motivated.

A related idea that helped me was to give myself the liberty to not finish books I do not enjoy. The sunk cost fallacy is real, and the real cost is the opportunity cost of not reading more enjoyable books. It is not always worth the time to finish a book just because we started reading it. Time is valuable, it is a lot more valuable than most other things. Pruning toil, not delaying things that matter, and savoring the moments we have is a good strategy to enjoy life.

We want to enjoy life and not delay things, but there are chores in life. What to do about them? I re-discovered one way to complete unpleasant tasks. Get them done before they are due. Avoid the last-minute task aversion. Do you not want to clean the house on a Sunday, do it on Friday afternoon, or at least start doing it.

I was able to exercise regularly. It mostly started to ease some back issues I had and became a regular daily routine that contributed to my overall physical improvement. Here, too, making it bite-sized and manageable (15 minutes a day!) allowed me to make it a habit and expand it.

I feel lucky that I have an interesting job. I enjoy working; I feel productive and creative at work. I played with other creative endeavors outside work as well. Doing creative things feel rejuvenating, like yoga for the mind. First, there were lots of spreadsheets for many things. I love working with spreadsheets; they are flexible and simple tools for clarifying my thinking. Excel is still my favorite, but more and more I am using other tools for simpler purposes. I built a simple tool to help my spouse with her work. It was satisfying to see it being used by its only audience. I started practicing my Spanish again, and I have a long way to go. We hope that our son can learn Spanish as a second language. And I wrote a few blog posts. Writing also helps with clarifying my thinking, I hope to do more of that as well.

I would like to do a lot more things that are creative, and productive rather than consuming. I feel like creativity is a numbers game, and increasing the quantity eventually results in increased quality. You can see this when you look at many sketches of great artists produced as a prelude to their masterpieces.

We did not travel this year. We could not. I missed that feeling of experiencing new places. I missed the physical connection. I also missed family and friends. On the bright side, people were more open to having remote conversations. And I connected lots more with remote family, albeit virtually.

I played games; picked up a few two-person card and board games to pair with the quarantine lifestyle. There was also a decent amount of PC games. I mostly went to my classic favorites and added a few new ones to the rotation.

And we picked up a little about parenting. I know little about it yet, but I think it starts with love and involves a lot of growing together as a family.

There were lots of good things about 2020 beneath its challenging shell. I wish that we would have another happy, healthy, joyful year with family. If I can wish for one more thing for 2021, it would be to sleep more.

Cheers and a happy new year!