I’m getting in early with the 2020 post-mortem, which I privately avowed not to do this year. But the last few days of the calendar are always tinged a melancholy blue, it seems, for the year that has slipped through my fingers. So how was my 2020 different from yours?

For starters, I didn’t read many books. I read constantly–but not books. There’s a difference between the short-term gratification you receive from being across the national and international news of the day, compared to the deep satisfaction of immersing yourself in another world. I’m left intellectual starved. So that has to change in ’21.

I didn’t write enough. I blogged consistently, much more than intended, but as an anaemic surrogate to the actual writing I wanted to do. Some of this was fuelled by a lack of creative impulse. I felt hemmed this year, constrained. The juices weren’t flowing no matter how hard I squeezed. And I didn’t squeeze especially hard I have to admit, what few original thoughts I had this year became blogs, not chapters. So that has to change in ’21.

I didn’t hike enough. COVID restrictions aside, the urge to ‘do the right thing’ meant staying home, indoors. You’d think an introvert would never complain, but I’m an outdoorsy introvert. I like to be alone with my thoughts while doing extremely heavy physical work. It flushes out the free radicals, resets my equilibrium, and fills the cup. So, more hiking in ’21.

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I didn’t take enough photographs. To clarify, I actually took a shit-ton of photographs in 2020. Portraits mostly, and mostly of the little elf. This is great, but I have a large feature wall behind my bed that is achingly empty. I’ve kept it empty because I want to fill it with my best photographs. So far I haven’t added one. I need to (a) keep taking photos, but (b) be less of a perfectionist. Frame some of those mofos and get them up there! More photos in ’21.

I wasn’t kind enough to others in ’20. Work has been interesting, to say the least. While my team is strong, full of energy and positivity, the work itself has been extraordinary. I’ve become more ruthless and less sympathetic as I’ve grown into my role. But I don’t need to bring that home, and sometimes I have. The home dynamic has changed too, the house full of work-from-homers; and this has sometimes challenged my patience. So, more kindness in ’21.

I wasn’t kind to myself in ’20 either. Always too self-critical. It was a frustrating year with all the reasons above compounding on my self-assessment. It was a C+ year, not even a B- year. Good enough in the circumstance, but barely. I set macro-goals but feel like I didn’t even reach the micro-goals. So maybe I’ll explore this awful-sounding thing called ‘self love’ in 2021 and see where it leads.

Self-reflection is great, but yesterday is always out of reach. I can only change the now, and to do that effectively I need to plan for the future. But that’s another post. I have to go polish my crystal ball. The reality is that in stable First World countries, life is a whorl, where we repeat behaviours that closely approximate past behaviours. Groundhog Day. To change it up a little, change it a little. Today’s challenge: read one chapter before I go to sleep, drink one less glass of wine, and hug my wife twice instead of just the once.

Challenge accepted.

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