The majority of people are wandering generalities rather than meaningful specifics. The fact is that you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. You have to have goals. – Zig Ziglar
As an achievement-driven person, I enjoy making these lists to set a direction for the year and at the end, use it as a way to track my own personal growth and progress. This year, I’m going to spend some time reflecting on what I did accomplish (what came easily to me), what I didn’t even bother with (make a decision on if it’s something to go or focus more on it in 2021), and what I learned from it.
So, let’s get started:
Personal & Home
- Custom design my own 2020 planner – DONE
I set this goal last year with the intention of getting more organized and finding a better system to be more productive. I thought if I spent some time at the beginning of the year to figure out a system, that I could stick to it. A ton of books that I read in 2019 put the idea in my head: automate as much as you can. Once you do the “thinking” beforehand and set up a routine beforehand, you can do things in autopilot. I planned out each season by color, wrote reflective prompts for the beginning of every month and end of month.
All in all, this was good in theory, and I spent about a week designing then printing my ultimate planner. I took inspiration from all my favorite planners out there, and it was cute AF. However, did I use it? The answer is no, absolutely not. 😂 I got bored of it by April/May (unrelated to the pandemic, but maybe that did have a small part in it).
What I learned in the process:
- I need variety in my life. There was something about using this planner week after week that got really stale for me. After a few months, the newness wore off and I didn’t feel the same level of excitement from it anymore.
- Productivity vs Creativity. Maybe productivity isn’t all that’s cracked up to be. Is it really about getting the most done all the time? I made this custom planner to take out the “hard work” of bullet journaling. I figured I would be saving hours in the time spent at the start of every month, so these time savings would translate into more planning, more productivity. I now think this was a wrong way to look at it. As it turns out, I really enjoy the process of creating a new bullet journal spread month to month. It’s a great creative outlet.
- I like using different notebooks for different purposes. I didn’t really like having so many aspects of my life tracked in a single notebook. In 2021, I’ll continue testing new systems, but this planner is not it. I got these thin Moleskin notebooks at a work event once, and it’s actually been one of my favorite notebooks. There are only 80 pages per notebook, so once I fill it up, I get to start fresh. I have a tendency to never finish using a notebook, so this helps solve that problem.
- Journal at least 1x a week – 10%
I did not do this. 🙂 However, I did write a few blog posts about 2020 that feels enough like a personal journal. I still think this is important, but I won’t explicitly make it a goal anymore.
- Continue working on the house. Install our mudroom. Study if I’m feeling ambitious. – 80%
Who knew that 2020 would be the year for homebodies? I’ve done a LOT of work on the house this year. We finished off updating the floors in the house, added a closet space to the mudroom, and started the design process for the study/home office.I don’t know if I’ve ever really mentioned this on the blog, but I’m a HUGE home design nerd. Architectual Digest is the only magazine that I subscribe to these days and I can spend days just watching HGTV (Home & Garden Television). As a result, I am the perfect target market for interior design startups!After seeing many many online ads for Havenly and Yardzen, two online design services, I gave in and tested both of them. I had an amazing experience with Havenly, I would not recommend Yardzen. Testing both of the services side by side gave me a chance to test their different UIs, understand what works and what doesn’t work in their product offering, gain a better understanding of their business models, test different customer support portals, etc. (You know, tech things 🤓). I won’t spend the time to air my grievances with Yardzen here on the blog since they’re a pretty new startup and it’s clear they’re in a huge growth phase. But if you’re interested in the service, let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer any questions since it was a pricey investment.
Now, on to my new obesssion with Havenly. Honestly, I’m blown away by their work. Can you believe an interior designer worked with me for ~2-3 weeks to design a few concepts, pick out furniture and produced these 3D renderings, for only $80? You guys, a traditional interior designer can charge up to $150 AN HOUR, so this to me is just insane. Take a look for yourselves:
This was a highlight for me in 2020, so I’ll actually write another blog post about this process. In the meantime, if you’re interested in trying out the service, here’s my Havenly promo code and you will get $50 off your own full design package.
- Make wedding album – 50%
So close. J and I picked a ton of pics, but have not finished. 😂 This will get done before 2021 is over for sure.
- Make photo books for our travels – 0%
I keep telling myself that I will get bored enough during COVID quarantine to do this, but it has not happened yet. I think the hardest thing about doing this is that I take WAY too many pictures on vacation and never really spend the time to curate and delete the dupes. Also, to be completely honest, most of my pictures are of food. There’s also no real time pressure to get this done because these photos now live forever in my Google Photos, so it’s easy to kick the task down the road.
- Work on my summer garden – DONE
2020 was the year of the home garden, FOR SURE. I particularly enjoyed my Persian cucumbers for cucumber salads and heirloom tomatoes for BLTs.
- Keep up reading habit – 24 books in the year? – DONE
I listened to a lot of audiobooks by Malcolm Gladwell this year (6 in total!). I never caught onto the Malcolm craze when books like The Tipping Point and Blink were popular, but I finally started the year with Talking to Strangers, which seems like a fitting book for the year given the whole premise of the book is trying to rationalize how the Sandra Bland case unfolded. Malcolm does a good job in weaving together various research and anecdotes into themes. While I may not always agree, his storytelling kept me engaged enough to listen to all of his books and come out feeling like I learned something new. Also, very light material to multi-task and listen to while gardening.A few other books that stood out to me this year:
- Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger. Was truly fascinating to learn about the life of Robert Iger and to get a glimpse into how Disney evolved over the years and the bet he’s placing on digital content by building out Disney+ and ESPN+. He even shared how he turned a sour relationship between Disney and Pixar (and Steve Jobs) into the legacy that Disney+Pixar is today.
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. If you identify with being a procrastinator, then the first section of this book is a good read to remind you to stop procrastinating and combat “the resistance”. If you’re in your head and need someone to give you a pep talk, this is that book.
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. As an ENFP, I’m supposedly the most introverted of the extroverts. Over the years, I’ve grown progressively more introverted and this book helps me realize that I’ve optimized myself to be externally extroverted because that’s what American society values.There’s a huge cultural aspect to this, in the spectrum, countries in Asia (e.g. China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam) value introvert traits. She specifically talks about Asian Americans and the disconnect between these two societies is a point of tension for teens who may be raised with introvert ideals (respecting the wisdom of elders and listening before you speak) while having to function in an extrovert’s system (expectations for you to speak your mind, even if you may not be right).This has always been a disconnect that I’ve felt. In my college admission essay, I specifically wrote about my Chinese mentality vs American culture. In a school fundraiser, I had to cold call various grocery stories to ask for donations. In Chinese culture, it is not polite to be direct and ask for what you want. So, I might have asked the store manager to “give me whatever they can afford to donate”. However, to an American, this might be seen as too wishy-washy, like I am indecisive and do not know what I want.
Family & Friends
For obvious reasons, none of these items became a reality because we’re all social-distancing now. Since J is a doctor and is regularly exposed to COVID, I’ve also become quite a hermit and have not been able to “pod” up with anyone. So just to recap, this year was a year of Zoom calls — but even those started getting exhausting. I’m always on work calls at work, so ending my day in ANOTHER video conference is not my idea of fun.
I was able to spend a lot of outdoor time with my dad, we took a LOT of hikes this summer which was a really nice bonding time for us. I also did a few Zoom family hangouts, so have been able to keep in touch with family in that way as well.
- Host the 10th annual Mas-giving – 0%, postponed to 2021
- Recruit cousins to start a new tradition for my family (and then do it) – 25%, still working on this – we did BINGO!
- Host more dinner parties w/ friends. The one theme that excites me the most: Cook recipes out of the same cookbook – 0%, TBD
- Birthday & Christmas Cards – 0%,
I am accepting the fact that I am not a card person. It was good in theory, but that’s not really my love language. I enjoy hosting parties and feeding my friends and family more, so that will be the way I keep in touch in the future.
Health, Nutrition & Fitness
- Complete 2 cleanses: Clean Cleanse & Whole 30 – 70%
I did both of these! The Clean Cleanse, I only lasted a week. This was just too hard to do during the pandemic. Whole 30, I lasted 28 days. Both of these cleanses I did with a friend, which made it more enjoyable for me.
- Do a vegetarian month – DONE
I did this in January! At the time, my vegetarian coworker told me to do it during a month when I traveled a lot, so that I was able to empathize with vegetarians who had to travel for work. I was in both Switzerland and Austin in January, not knowing that I would not be travelling for the rest of 2020. Had I known, I might have reconsidered my choices haha.I came to realize that I enjoy Asian vegetarian food a lot more, and that’s not always accessible when you travel. In Switzerland, all I ate was carbs and cheese. In Austin, it was a little bit easier, but even at work events, no one really orders vegetable-centric hor dourves, so I had a lot of bread again. Overall, I enjoyed doing this, and will be doing this again in 2021.
- Do HIIT workouts 3x a week – planned with Natalie – 80%
COVID workout struggles is real, but there was a 3 month sprint when Natalie and I did the Heather Robertson 12-week workout. It was free on YouTube, 5 workouts a week. Honestly, it became too much. I did it, and it was nice having it scheduled on my calendar as a reminder to take a break. But, I want to mix up my workouts more.
- Be the type of person who works out (almost) every day – 10%
I did a “workout on my Peloton every day” challenge for myself in April. I feel like these 30-day sprints/challenges is the only way I can motivate myself to do something every day, so that’s what my 2021 goals will be focused on! 12 month long challenges as a way to keep things fresh and motiviating.
Blog & YouTube
Biggest takeaway: Work is stressful. Blogging/YouTube/Content creation should be fun. I’m going to just work on embracing that and being less “goal” centric about this. That said, I have started posting more content, but I’m okay with letting go of any specific goals for this in 2021.
- Start my YouTube channel & post at least 6 videos – 10%
I’ve started editing a video, but have not been happy enough with it to finish! I want to post at least this 1 video by end of year 2020. I have 4 days left, will I be able to do it? 🙂
- Create Templates for key blog post formats: City Guide, Restaurant Reviews – 0%
- Finish out some of my “back log” content – 0%
- Be more insights and data driven (like how I would advise people in my day job)
- Work hard smart and be nice to people – 50%
The biggest thing that I’ve tried this year at work is to outsource some of my work to vendors, in both my personal life and work life. Overall, it’s been a good learning experience in outlining scope, writing briefs for what I want, setting expectations and figuring out how to manage all this digitally.
Things I’ve done in 2020 that was not on the original list
- Build Donostia in Animal Crossing – DONE
I really enjoyed doing this! For the month of May, I played so much Animal Crossing as it was good escapism for me to build a beautiful little city to travel to. I’m very proud of this and will post screenshots if I ever figure out how to grab them off the switch.
- Raise money for COVID PPE – DONE
I’ve written about this, but I think this took so much emotional energy out of me during the first half of the year. But, it was a good way to channel my energy and ultimately, we raised over $20k for PPE and was able to donate it to medical staff and nursing homes who need it.
- Survive a pandemic – 80%
We’re SOOOOO close. J got vaccinated the other day, so I know that by 2021, we will come out of this much stronger, but until then, hope you’re all doing well!