2020 Year in Review

I recently came across the concept of writing an annual review, so this year I thought I would reflect on the past year by answering what I feel are questions that should be answered each year.

1.  What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

In the past 10 years or so, I have spent just about every other week travelling and rushing from one place to the next. It was getting a little tiring and out of hand and was not fun having to leave my wife behind at home alone. So this year with travel restricted and various lockdowns it was the year of staying at home. It has been excellent fun, and I admit that I do not miss the travel as much as I thought I would. It is nice to be home and not have to spend a couple of nights a week apart.

Although this has hurt the Airmiles balance, it has been an eye-opening experience and if carries on will just mean taking more quality trips together.

2.  What cities/states/countries did you visit?

We were luckily able to get some travelling done at the start of the year before the whole pandemic thing broke out. We managed to travel to Bologna, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. We had planned a few more trips, but these will have to go back to the drawing board for another year.

3.  What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?

This year has shown me the importance of enjoying the moments in life in the now as opposed to living in the past thinking of prior moments of living in the future thinking of potential things that may or may not happen. This year has been a bit of a blur, so I want to take the time to enjoy the finer things in life next year like sitting on our balcony and watch the sun go down, walking hand in hand in the park and share more memorable moments.

4.  What date(s) from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

There are a few dates which will be etched into my mind this year:

  • 17 March 2020 – we got sent home to start working from home with no return date in sight.
  • 30 July 2020 – the twins of my brother and his wife were born.

5. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I have grown my YouTube channel past the magical 1,000 subscribers mark, which is a feat in itself. I have recently started an online blog that I hope to grow into something interesting. Achieving these milestones has shown me the power of turning up.

6.  What was your biggest failure?

I think the biggest failure was my lack of discipline and over complaining in a couple of areas. These areas being weight and work. Man, I sounded like a moaning 3-year-old. Pull yourself together.

7.  What other hardships did you face?

This year has been tough with the lack of seeing my folks. We usually see them a few times a year and spend Christmas together but this year was different. We were last together for Christmas 2019, but luckily we chat regularly, and I feel fortunate that this was the problem I faced this year. With so much going on and so much uncertainty, I feel privileged to find ourselves where we are. We have our health, security and a steady income. I feel lucky to have these in this environment.

8.  What was the best thing you bought?

This has to be an exercise bike or a fan. With the inability to use the gym or do physical activity, we decided to buy an exercise bike from Amazon. This is not a top of the range Peloton bike but something mid-range which does the job perfectly.

The other good thing that we purchased was a fan. Being at home with no air conditioning and spending many hours in a hot room (during the summer) where it was not possible to open the window because of the loud building works, the fan changed everything. Something so simple.

9. Where did most of your money go?

This is an easy one as rent is by far our biggest expenditure. We do live in a nice flat which is comfortable and modern. Other than rent and of course food, this year the money has gone on home things which we purchased as a consequence of lockdown like:

  • Furniture to make the working from home comfortable
  • exercise bike

Even though these were expensive, it does allow us to keep sane and fit.

10. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?

This year has certainly had its ups and downs, but overall I feel:

  • Happier. I spent about 9 months of the year working from home and being close to my love. Even though there were tough times and long work hours when sometimes it felt I saw her less than when I was in the office, the experience allowed me to see that I want to pass each hour by her side and in her company.
  • Fatter. With not commuting to work or enjoying long walks outside, whilst let’s be honest, sometimes pigging out on food, I feel a bit fatter this year. Having said this, we saw we were going off the rails a little so changed our behaviour. We started eating better and doing home gym time. Hopefully will be able to work off the lockdown fat early on in the new year.
  • Richer. Luckily I work in one of the few industries that had a booming time following the pandemic outbreak. We have been kept busy. This coupled with not commuting or being able to travel we have seen our piggy bank grow. The money aspect aside, I feel a lot richer culturally. The books I read this year have opened my eyes.

11. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I had been able to spend even more time being in the company of my love this year. There were several weeks where I would wake up at around 6 am and go to the makeshift office in the spare room and stay there until about 7 pm and only tool a quick break for lunch where I was not really present as was thinking of the thing I needed to complete.

At times I felt tired and drained and found myself being grumpy. So I wish I would have been able to spend more quality time together.

12. What do you wish you’d done less of?

As cliché as this sounds, it is the 31st December 2020 at 3:43 am, which is the perfect time to say “I wish I ate a little less and did more exercise this year”. Oh well, can always try again next year.

Working from home and basically always being connected to one device or another, I am looking to implement a more rigid calendar of Offline time in 2021. I can feel myself becoming more easily distracted due to technology.

13. Do you hate anyone now that you did not hate this time last year?

No-one has been added to my Enemy book this year which can only be a good thing. On the flip side, no one has been removed, so we carry on as normal into the new year.

14. What was the best book you read?

This year I managed to stick to my aim or reading at least 12 books a year.

The best book was either:

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl or
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Both captivated me in different ways and made me aware of who I am and put me on the path.

A Man’s Search for Meaning is definitely a book that everyone should read. Wow, It really made me recenter my life and focus on what is important and be more aware of the person I am. Think I will keep this in my Library to read yearly in case go off track.

15. What was your favourite film/TV show?

This year we watched a few films and TV shows which include:

  • Virgin River
  • Unorthodox
  • Grace and Frankie
  • Sweet Magnolias
  • 13 Reasons why
  • Dead to Me
  • This is Us
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Grey’s Anatomy

If I were to choose one, it would be Sweet Magnolias. An uplifting and fun series to watch.

16. What was your favourite meal?

This year my favourite meal was Palha Italiana. A Brazilian sweet which my wife prepares to perfection. It is great to eat this while watching something on Netflix and growing old.

17. What did you do on your birthday?

Sitting in a plane on the way to Sao Paulo when suddenly my wife and the cabin crew come round with a cake and a couple of balloons singing happy birthday. Was an extraordinary and enjoyable moment. I knew something was up but never did I think she would manage to get the cabin crew to come round and sing.

18. What political issue stirred you the most?

This is a tricky one as the year 2020 was an action-packed year with Covid, Brexit and a new US president bring elected. If I had to choose one, it has to be Brexit.

19. What valuable life lesson did you learn this year?

Start to enjoy life more and stop being a miserable old git.

20. What is a quote that sums up your year?

This has to be from Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl where I believe he quotes Nietzsche:

“He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.”

Nietzsche

This was very timely and resonated with me on several different levels.