2020 in Review
I haven't done one of these annual reviews in ages, but I'm on a roll with my writing and I think this is appropriate after a very long year. I also listened to Atomic Habits which speaks a lot about reviewing your year to find habits you could create to improve your life.
What didn't go well
Well, let's address the elephant in the room. Covid-19 happened, and so lots didn't go well. We had lockdowns to try and stop the spread, which sadly results in people losing jobs and businesses closing down. To really make it worse, many many many people lost loved ones earlier than they really should have.
To make matters worse, a few weeks before Covid kicked off, my aunt or second mom passed away. She lived over 50 years past her life expetency with Type 1 Diabetes. 2020 will be remembered as the year of loss.
The mental toll through the year was exhausting. Companies were cutting salaries and retrenching stuff. Fortunately, my job was secure, but many of my friends were not so lucky. It was saddening to see so many people desperate for job security. It also sucked to see so many people succumbing to the after-effects of getting the virus.
The toll of those six months won't be forgotten easily, but I learnt quite a bit from it.
What went well
You'd think that 2020 didn't go well at all. However, gold is refined in fire. Iron is used to sharpen iron. Having been a business owner I understood that the leadership team was having a rough time. It's hard enough not knowing where your next paycheck will come from, but imagine having to think of 100-odd people who rely on you for their livelihood. So I got stuck in and did everything in my power to help achieve growth in a dead environment (the real estate industry). I grew, and so did my ability as an engineer.
I learnt React, Next.js, dotnet and C#, and I contributed to more than I would normally have. It was an intense season of growth.
On the family front, one of the biggest positives to come out of the enforced lockdowns was that we were forced to simplify the activities in our lives. I still remember driving to the shops when they first started allowing physical activity in public and seeing entire families walking together. I had to slow down just to avoid all the people in the streets. If you're not South African, this is something unusual in the suburbs.
Another positive is that people weren't allowed to gather in confined spaces and were forced outdoors. My family is already adventurous and outdoorsy, but seeing people going on hikes and exercising was great.
On the exercise front, I broke a five-year cycle of starting and stopping regular exercise. At the time of writing, I've been running for over fifteen weeks and I've run over 350 kilometres. It is now I habit I've developed and something I do at least four times a week.
Probably the most important aspect is a reflection on our personal finances. After years in debt, my wife and I got stuck in and looked at every aspect of our income and expenses. We didn't miraculously pay off debt, but we have paid off a massive chunk by spending a lot less. I'm talking about the little things that add up like buying a coffee every third day instead of every day – that's a 66% saving.
To put a cherry on top, I made the move to a new company in a new role. It's in a different area within the IT field, but still related to what I've been doing. The company is called LSD Information Technology.
What I learnt
So much. I learnt that I can do anything I put my mind and effort to. I learnt that big wins come from many little habits over time.
I learnt that there's more to life than work and that you can easily do both work and family if you're proactive. I also learnt that you can prioritise your family without giving up on your professional career.
I also learnt about the power of creating habits (really, read Atomic Habits) and I've only just begun. I've realised that wealth and success are created over years and years of small improvements, which often go unnoticed.
Finally, I've realised I love the outdoors and South Africa (as frustrating as it can be to live here). I want to get out as much as I can and explore it with my wife and children.
If you've read this far, thank you and all the best for 2021.