Everyone, pat yourselves on the back for getting through 2020.
No one could really have predicted the wild ride that was 2020 – it was the year of wildfires, murder hornets, typhoons, a very close call to World War 3, an almost full-year of work-from-home, and of course, the pandemic.
This year and holiday season has been unlike any other and I remembered as I was writing Christmas cards, holiday wishes and messages to friends, how strange it was to wish a Merry Christmas when I don’t always know what’s going on behind closed doors.
We’re in another lockdown where I live – actually, we’ve been in lockdown since early December but since we haven’t seen the decline since it was confusing, and half-hearted at best. There’s positive news by way of the vaccine approval and rollouts so here’s to hoping we’ll see more positive news in the coming weeks!
I will be hitting a big milestone in 2021 (urgh, it feels so scary to write) and I’ve jumped into Jan 1, 2021 with the kind of gusto I haven’t seen in myself in a while. You can see below there’s quite a diverse set of things I hope to accomplish this year and also to make up for the lost year that was 2020.
2020 Highlights – What I’m Grateful for This Year
1. My Health, Loved Ones and Job
Despite the challenges COVID-19 presented, I’m grateful to still have my health, job and loved ones healthy despite a few COVID scares. Unfortunately, I had two extended family members who fell ill with COVID and while one recovered, another passed away during the summer. I know that there are many going through this holiday season in a place that may not necessarily be where they want/expected to be and if this is you, know that you’re not alone!
I am grateful for having my job which takes off the stress of day-to-day / financial anxieties and I’m forever thankful of how this pandemic is a harsh (but necessary) reminder that if you don’t take care of yourself first or put your physical / mental / emotional well-being ahead, you really can’t look after other aspects of your life.
2. The Slower Pace of Day to Day
Work-wise, there have been far too many days of working for more than 8 hours and with minimal break. I had to use up most of my vacation days at the end of the year and I wished I had spread it more evenly throughout the year so it didn’t feel so indulgent and I could feel more relaxed throughout the year.
More time spent at home meant I’ve had more time to focus and work on myself. Some notable projects I’ve tackled this year included re-organizing the pantry, taking care of my finances, organizing my travel photos, removed and installed a new dishwasher with the help of my sister and finishing 20 books this year.
As we go into the new year, I hope to continue building the good habits and expanding the growth I’ve seen myself do!
3. A Better Eating Habit
I was having a conversation with my sister the other day when I told her I walked the same aisles at Costco/most grocery stores. I was surprised by the number of “new finds” they picked up at Costco and lamented that my grocery haul these days look boring, and tend to be identical each time I shop. This made me realize that I’m (subconsciously) doing what I said I would – working on various areas of improvement and I was glad food / grocery shopping was one of those things where I had a lot of trouble with (not shopping with a list, throwing out food because it didn’t get used up).
Every time I look at my grocery cart, I’m happy to see mostly raw ingredients and very few processed, ready-to-eat / bake / cook meals. I enjoy cooking and this pandemic has provided an opportunity to really explore various recipes and incorporating new ingredients to my cooking routine. I need to work on reducing the amount of takeouts (bubble tea, pizza, donuts – urgh) though!
I also splurged on a Ninja Foodi air fryer / pressure cooker during Black Friday and it’s made cooking so much faster, and clean up absolutely minimal. There’s just an insane number of recipes, especially easy plant-based recipes to try out and I hope to continue working and changing up my eating habits to do reduce my meat consumption (I usually only eat red meat a few times a month so there’s a start) and learn more meatless recipes in the new year!
4. Moving More
Forcing myself to workout at home hasn’t been easy and I often feel so guilty for not exercising / working out enough. To make up for most weeks when I don’t exercise, I try to try to take 2 hour walks every other day in nearby parks or at least 3-4x a week. It’s such a great way to step away from the condo, work and focus on nature and finishing up my audiobooks.
Over the 13-days vacation I took from work, I was pleased that I managed to go out and walk for 7K+ for 9 of the 13 days. Checking my Fitbit weekly reports showed I average around 8.5K walks/day in a week and this is something I hope to continue (to eventually hit 10K/day average)
5. Investing in Quality over Quantity
The lack of commute, limited outing (except to buy grocery, medicine and other essentials) meant that my impulsive shopping has decreased significantly (though I did make a dent during Black Friday and Boxing Day) and took advantage of the more aggressive sales retailers were hosting to move inventory off.
This meant that I spent this year rebuilding my work wardrobe with more quality pieces – I stopped spending on lower-quality items and invested on higher-quality jackets, jeans, blouses so I can’t wait until when we can finally dress up and go out again.
6. Recovering my old Neopets Account
One of the best things to have happened during 2020 was recovering my old Neopets account. It was such a process two years in the making but having access back to it and doing the “dailies” routine is such a throwback! I mean, I was surprised at how many of my instagram friends were into Neopets and so my IG messages has been very blowing up with comments sharing their excitement at seeing this again.
I mean Neopets was such a big part of my life in the mid-2000’s. As a middle-schooler, Neopets gave me insight to what adulting was going to be and it was what taught me coding / got me interested in building websites and eventually, blogging. I definitely miss the good old days where I can / am coding on the regular and hope to get back into it some day soon!
2021 Resolutions Unwrapped
1. Reduce Spending & Grow Savings and Investments
I did really well for most of 2020 – no takeouts, Starbucks, shopping for the sake of shopping. Things got a little slippery during Black Friday and Boxing Day – there were purchases that I could have done without.
Grocery is another thing I want to work on – there was a hoarding mentality in the first lockdown that I kept through till now that we’re in a second (or third or fourth) wave. While my pantry isn’t atrocious by any means, I definitely could reduce the size of said pantry and clear out the fridge / pantry before doing any more shopping. I’m trying to keep my grocery outing as minimal as possible to better manage my spending and limit exposure.
I’m focusing more on cooking and eating at home – the lockdown has made it a lot easier but there are the odd UberEats or DoorDash promo that will weaken the resolve every once in a while. My goal is tp eat 70% of my meal (so at least 5 days a week or limiting myself to only 5~ takeouts during the week).
I rarely talk about personal finance here as it’s into really the topic of the blog but this year has been amazing in terms of savings (overachieving my targets!) and I hope to continue growing the investment even more! I successfully stayed mostly within budget during the holiday season and kept track of the number of No Spend days in November / December (15-20 days each month!) and I hope to continue tracking these activities to ensure I’m staying within my monthly budget.
2. Work on learning new skills every week
I made this new year resolution last year and I thought this is a good reminder to circle up on this skill. I’m hoping to keep this up in the new year as I didn’t think I did a good job on it in 2020. I can’t really recall if there were any specific new skill I learned, but there are those odd house DIYs that I’ve managed to do the first time around without screwing up big time.
Here’s to focusing on life skills for the new year!
3. Move More & Eat Better!
Find a routine that I enjoy – maybe a YouTube dance party or yoga or actually strength training – I need to get back into working out again! I miss F45 though I doubt I’ll be getting back until most are vaccinated. Continuing on the theme of working on myself more – I want to learn a few more plant-based recipes and add them to my regular cooking routine in addition to keeping up the success of hitting 8.5K average steps over the last month of December.
4. Establish a good AM/PM routine and stick with it!
I feel like I’ve got my evening routine down – winding down the day with 30-60 minutes of reading meant that I could finish books quickly and I clock 40K+ of walks on a weekly basis. I’m trying to be more intentional with my goals next year including reading 21 books for 2021 and maintaining or increasing the number of days I’m walking/exercising as well as incorporating better sleeping, break habits while making sure I’m making time for socializing (in a safely-distanced manner of course)
5. Pick up travelling again when we can
Cabin fever is absolutely real these days and living in a condo in the city centre means there’s always fear of cases and we’ve had 4-5 confirmed cases in the last two months. The scary part is that with the new (more infectious) variants, the hope of things getting back to normal seems to out of reach. I’m hoping once travel is allowed and most of the world is vaccinated / achieved herd immunity, I hope to pick up travelling again. I’d like to visit 2-3 new countries and revisit a few old favourites including South Africa and Jordan but in the mean time, I’ll keep myself occupied with revisiting and rewriting old blog posts!
What are you focusing on in the new year?