I watched this video on Youtube a while back about how to recapitulate the past year and how to plan goals and habits for the next to simply be more happy. I usually dismissed these kinds of videos back then and never put much stock into the kind of exercise she suggests.

But I got to know Maryjane as a very smart and humble person and this small exercise kind of stuck with me. So I did a sheet similar to hers at the end of 2019 and this year I am going to make another one and even put it out here for you to see. I omitted some very personal things of course (or kept them general) and a lot of what worked out and what not was definitely influenced by the insanity that we imposed as a society on ourselves in the futile attempt to stop COVID19.

2020 in review

Highlights and Successes

  • Emotionally let go of someone because it was necessary (i.e I was hung up on someone)
  • made new friends despite lockdowns
  • deleted my Steam/GOG or other gaming accounts (I’ll write about it soon)
  • experimented a lot with blogging and writing
  • finally decided on running this photo blog
  • discovered new photography inspirations
  • worked through some personal and relationship stuff (sorry can’t be more detailed but it has something to do with the concept of relationship anarchy)
  • let go of all the anger concerning my workplace, there are way more important things (I’ll write about it soon)
  • made my home office into the kids playroom with new furniture and decorations
  • learned a lot about myself

Failures and Things to Improve

  • consumed way too much media, videos, news or social media to distract myself from me or from boredom (partly lockdown related)
  • did too much retail therapy (partly lockdown related)
  • working through some personal stuff was a big strain on my family (it worked out in the end and a lot was due to lockdowns and isolation)
  • not patient enough with my daughter (try to keep a two year old busy all day when there are no play groups, play dates or other activities available)
  • lack of physical activity
  • still too much anger about things I can neither change nor control
  • deleted a satisfying blog (it might have been for the better though but I still regret it)
  • really neglected my philosophy studies especially this semester and was unable to participate in last semesters exam (try writing an exam from home with a small kid running around)
  • had to fight depression due to lockdowns and isolation

Goals for 2020: What worked out and what not?

Successful goals and habits

  • Building some mental distance to my workplace: This worked out really well and remote work for most of the year did certainly help. One of the small upsides of the pandemic. Big lessons; don’t get sucked into personal drama at work and commuting sucks
  • Reading at least 12 Books: I made it exactly to 12 and I will write something about it.
  • Meeting new people: Considering the circumstances I actually managed to go on some dates (one was a bit scary though) and I maybe made some new friends (too early to tell). One person I just met very recently and I really like her and I hope we can become friends. (if you read this…wanna be friends? 😉
  • regular sleep (at least 8 hours with fixed bed times): My sleep quality is still terrible but I got a good sleep rhythm

Partially successful goals and habits

  • a maximum of once per day of checking news or social media: I really tried and it worked for a short time and then I fell back into the habit (social media is really addictive and being stuck at home with nowhere to go and meet people made that goal probably not attainable). I tried at least.
  • having a better daily routine with things like cleaning, grooming, scheduled activities, meals, time set aside for reading, studying or meditation: I got a routine for like half of the things. My kid needs routine and this helped me too.

Failed goals and habits

  • 3x a week taking a bike ride for some cardio: This never worked out. Due to childcare I only ever had actual time when my wife came back from work at around 5 pm when I was tired and hungry from the day. In the evening when the kid was asleep I also wanted to spend time either doing something calm or spending it with my wife. It was in all honesty an unattainable goal. Should have maybe bought a treadmill or cross trainer?
  • a healthy breakfast: Let’s just not count the number of grilled cheese sandwiches shall we? 🙂
  • Being outdoors once a day: I tried really hard and I gave myself permission to skip rainy days. But once the lockdowns hit it was hard to motivate myself to go somewhere when there was nowhere to go. I really miss going on a walk and having coffee somewhere, a small rest and a snack or visiting some place. It also depressed me to see masked people around me. I live so much for social interaction with fellow humans and it is hard for me not to see proper faces.
  • Passing at least on exam: I wrote about it already.
  • Try to be more calm, be more centered on myself and maybe do some meditation: I never really tried. I have no excuse.
  • Visiting an out of town friend: Regrettably I cancelled in February due to me not feeling well and the weather being dull and grey. We rescheduled for May to visit some museums and take a hike but…lock downs. I regret not visiting in winter but I was so sure to be able to see him three months later. I guess we should not take things for granted and needlessly postpone them when they are available right now.

New goals and habits for 2021

New habits

  • more physical activity (I’ll keep this very general because I probably won’t have time until my daughter goes to daycare in autumn or unless I can convince myself to put a huge fitness thingy in my bedroom).
  • more focus on healthy food in general, i.e. less sugar, pasta oh no :-(, rice and more vegetables, nuts, berries, good oils, fish and so on
  • avoiding multitasking
  • start a meditation practice even if it is just a few minutes a day before going to bed. Maybe I’ll combine it with what someone else suggested: to recapitulate the day and mentally note 10 positive things I have done over the day.
  • a maximum of once per day news and social media (I am not giving up on this goal, regarding news I recommend the case against news by Rolf Dobelli)
  • less shopping (I have no income right now anyway)

New goals

  • making new friendships with the people I met recently (this is not really a goal and more of a wish, it means to be attentive and open)
  • passing at least one (ideally two) exams
  • finding a job nearby because commuting sucks or making arrangements with my employer to work at least 50% from home
  • visiting out of town friends, one of whom lived abroad so I haven’t seen him in years (depending on the lock down madness though)
  • taking a small holiday with my family (depending on the lock down madness though)
  • buying a yearly museum pass and visiting Berlin’s great museums at least once a month (depending on the lock down madness though)
  • reading another 12 books

I hope this was interesting to you. I mostly wrote it to hold myself a bit more accountable over the next year. So you all are my commitment device. Maybe it inspires you to do something similar. With that I wish you all a good 2021. Go out and live your lives, don’t be afraid. I should heed my own advice too.

5 responses to “2020 in review, goals for 2021”

  1. Liz BlackX Avatar

    I love your list!
    I recognise so much of it. Especially reading less news and checking less social media. I was doing so well, news-wise, but somehow it’s a habit that seems to creep back in without noticing. But we’ll try again in the new year 🙂

    Happy New Year!

    1. Paul Avatar

      It really was a hard year to not read the news…I *had* to check to know what I was allowed to do outside or not and sooner than I thought it sucked me back in. I have two links that maybe of interest to you…one is a somewhat lengthy PDF but well worth the read.

      1. The case against news by Rolf Dobelli
      2. a small blog post with similar ideas

      1. Liz BlackX Avatar

        Yes, exactly this. Pre-Corona I read little news, but wanting to know what regulations might be coming up, I got sucked back into it.

        But the same goes for Twitter and Reddit. I know I grab one of those when I’m bored, instead of opening a book which I can read from the same phone.

        And I know it affects me, in a bad way. I’ll read on Twitter how someone’s dog has died and I become sad. I don’t know this person, I don’t know this dog, and yet I’ll feel sad for maybe an hour or longer. I’ll have forgotten the sad tweet and just assume I’m having a bad day because I feel sad. And so it goes on and on.

        Looking back to when I was a teenager in the early days of the internet, my concentration span was so much better than it is today. I could concentrate for hours on end, reading books or studying German and French words for exams. By now I’m happy if I can manage fifteen minutes. I often don’t make the twenty-five with the timer app. I blame this mostly on the smartphone. I know I’m addicted, but how to get rid of this addiction?

        1. Paul Avatar

          You know I actually hate my phone. I always wanted to study philosophy and now I have the time and money for it but my brain feels so frazzled. Keeping focus on learning for like an hour is so hard nowadays. From time to time think I should just block social media sites on my phone or internet router. Maybe only follow people who write blog posts instead of 140 characters. It is hard to let go of the connections with people one has made on social media. But aren’t most them actually strangers. In all my life I only ever met one person from Instagram and I follow like 20 local photographers in the hopes that we could organize some kind of photowalk or something.

          And I totally get the emotional reactivity from social media. Sometimes I shut my empathy down for protection but that spills over into real life too which is pretty crappy. I wish I knew more answers though. Maybe it is like alcoholism….you gotta stay sober because there is no way to control it.

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