2020: Counting My Blessings

Sparkler firework with a background of sunset.

I thought 2019 was a whirlwind of a year.

2020 decided to blindside us all, right?

No year in review post can be written without mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic, at least in passing. As much as I hate what has happened to so many families this year, it has been hard to feel down as of late. I have so many things to be grateful for this year in my personal life that, at times, I feel guilty for not feeling as bad. Yes, I have struggled to cope with the changes we have faced as a society. There have been tough days. However, I must allow myself to accept that I have been blessed this year and should not hide from my happiness.

Some big moments of my year:

Suffice it to say, I spent a boatload of money toward the tail-end of the year. Some of this came from cautious investments and an IP sale in late 2019. It also came from a beans-and-rice style of living for much of 2020.

Aside from the obvious suckage of the global pandemic, the year has been pretty good to me.

How I Fared with 2020 Goals

I had some hits and misses this year. For the most part, I stayed the course. Nothing about 2020 was going to derail me from the work I put in the previous year toward getting my life back on track. I just kept my head down and charged forward.

The following is a breakdown of my 2020 goals:

Writing

I did not finish a novel manuscript this year. Yes, I technically co-authored and published a book in 2020. But, it was not a novel. If I am being honest with myself, I need to call this a failure.

I could blame not completing a manuscript on the pandemic. I could blame it on all the other major life changes. However, at the end of the day, the buck stops with me.

The forecast for next year does not seem like it will be any less hectic. I will still be working a full-time job. I have a new 2.5-acre property and 2,000 sq. foot home to work on. Time will undoubtedly be at a premium. I simply need to make the time to be a novelist if I want to actually be a novelist.

Reading

I failed miserably at hitting my 30 books for 2020. I am currently on book 12 with no chance of finishing it by midnight. But, I read every single day. On December 3, I had read a book for two years straight. Rain or shine, health or sickness, I at least spent half an hour or so with a book in hand.

I also knocked out some hefty works. Gone with the Wind was not exactly something that I could finish in a week. It was a slow burn, but it was well worth it. The Deed of Paksenarrion is actually three books combined into one, so I’m technically reading my 14th book of the year at the moment.

My 2020 stats from Goodreads:

  • 11 Books (actually, 13)

  • 7,797 Pages

  • Shortest Book: The Year Without Pants by Scott Berkun

  • Longest Book: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

  • Average Length: 708 pages

My free time was consumed mostly by working on the second edition of Pro WP Plugin Dev earlier in the year. The stress of finding and buying a new home slowed me down late in the year. However, there were times when I opted to watch TV instead of picking up a book. I will do better next year and continue toward the goal of reading each day for three years straight.

Finances

With any luck, my 1993 Nissan Maxima will continue getting me from place to place. I don’t want to buy a new vehicle because I don’t drive much. I am remaining optimistic that I won’t have to budget a car payment in this year.

Perhaps I jinxed myself with this paragraph from my 2020 goals post. My car died this year, which meant putting a big down payment on a “new” 2017 Santa Fe Sport. It was not ideal timing for getting a new loan, which happened literally a week before we came to a deal on my house and I signed up for a mortgage. But, I am glad it happened. I am happy with my new vehicle.

My biggest goals for 2020 were around making sound financial decisions. On the whole, I smashed those goals. My credit score is healthy. My investments from this year alone are worth more money than I made in the entirety of 2019.

My bank account is a bit lighter than I want it to be after putting a down payment on my new home, but it’s better than at any point in the past 10 years. Mostly, this has come down to creating and sticking to a budget each month. I have no plans of stopping in the upcoming year.

Final Thoughts on 2020

As a society, we may look back on 2020 as a year that we want to forget. However, I choose to look at it as a year where science did the unthinkable and created multiple vaccines in mere months to fight a global pandemic. I choose to remember that fateful day on November 3rd when citizens of the United States from all walks of life stood against bigotry, hatred, and fascism while giving the boot to that stain on American society.

I will also remember it as a year that I was blessed with so many wonderful life changes.