2020 has been… a lot. I generally don't think of years as good or bad. But I do think 2020 is uniquely bad. We had (and are still going through) a global pandemic.
The biggest thing I learned this year… is that really bad things happen in real life not just in movies. I remember discussing COVID in Jan, Feb, & March and no one thought we'd be stuck inside for most of the year. We couldn't conceive that the way we'd been living all of our lives could possibly change.
And after listening to some podcasts about similar events I learned that humans are really really bad with ambiguous or extremely rare events.
The best we can do is create systems to prevent rare and ambiguous events. We can create a list of disruptive events and invest money every day, week, or month preparing.
One of my goals for the past 3-4 years has been to travel a little less. While I love conferences, work trips to LinkedIn, board game conventions, and visits to family & friends between all of these I traveled almost every other week. Which is way too much time away from home.
I've gradually cut back but this pandemic really sped up that process. I had a bit fat zero trips this year and had plenty of time at home which was really refreshing. Of course, I'll go back to traveling when it's safe. But I expect to do a lot less moving forward.
Full Time Job & Part Time Job
In January I joined Nexcess which is the first time working for someone in years. And it's been a really fulfilling change. While I work a lot faster by myself when you work in a larger company you have to spend a ton of time building consensus for larger decisions. And while that takes time it does force you to think through the strategy behind your day-to-day tasks and I've really enjoyed the more strategic angle.
I also continued some of my previous responsibilities preparing for another year of WooSesh and planning a LinkedIn Learning course.
No Soda in 2020
I'm a big believer that you don't have to make radical changes to see radical results. Sometimes tiny changes can have outsized impacts. One thing I did for my health this past year was to give up soda.
I switched to flavored sparkling water (Bubly & La Croix) which isn't great for the environment but it did make it a lot easier to follow through. I kept my same habits of a fizzy drink for dinner. Now it's a Bubly instead of a Dr. Pepper.
On a personal level I got engaged & married this year. 😍
Neither of us were excited for a big wedding so we took advantage of the pandemic to have a private ceremony in the mountains.
It's helpful to remember that even terrible things like pandemics can have upsides. In our case, we saved $20,000-$30,000 by getting married in a private way that worked for us.
Playing & Painting With Friends
Getting married was obviously a huge milestone that came out of a terrible pandemic. But there are smaller more subtle things that still meaningfully improved my life.
My friends back in Wisconsin still have “nerd night” where they get together and paint miniatures which is one of my favorite hobbies. Due to the pandemic they moved these nerd nights online and for the first time in 5 years I was able to have a nerd night with friends.
Wednesday nights are now one of my favorite nights of the week.
In addition to having a painting night I also was able to play a board game with Will Wheaton (my nerd crush)! My friend Ralph got his game Alpha signed and I was invited to play the game on a stream to introduce it to the world.
New Resolution: Monthly Financial Checkins
I love creating new habits. I try not to start too many because otherwise I burn myself out and do nothing. It's easier to start one tiny new habit each year.
One of the “problems” I had this past year is how I should save the money from my full time & part time job. I always did some basic things like save money each month. But with the extra income, I really wanted to reevaluate where it's going to have the biggest impact.
I realize this is a blessed position. We're experiencing a K-shaped recovery where white collar workers who can work from home are doing better than those who still have to go into work.
To manage finances I'm starting a new monthly financial checkin. This will help me understand how much money I'm saving, how I'm paying down debt, and how much cash I have on hand. I'm hoping this becomes a ritual I carry through life keeping a pulse on my finances so I'm never surprised.