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Hello 2021, Goodbye 2020

Gyanesh Mishra
January 10th, 2021 · 7 min read

New year is here! Earth has finished another revolution around the sun and literally nothing has changed.

That has been my perspective on the calendar year switching over for as long as I can remember. Its just another day! Covid isn’t gone, families are still waiting to be reunited, everyone’s home, travelling is prohibited and its all the same as it was at the end of 2020.

Now before I’m convicted of being Mr. Negative, I’d like to say that I also acknowledge the great things of the oncoming year. We LOVE having deadlines, timelines, calendar dates, weekday beginnings, etc. basically anything we can measure against or mark as checkpoints. Arguably that’s one of the major reasons why New Year is celebrated so much! It’s the biggest checkpoint of them all. It’s long enough to do something substantial to inflict big change but not too long to forget your path/direction.

Bill Gates once said: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Not only is it easier for us to visualize a year’s worth of change compared to a decade, we also have nicely divided months that we can break down the goals further into. Ofcourse that’s not the only point of that quote, but I’m choosing to focus on that for now.

So ever year I’d make resolutions and break them down by months so I can see what I may be able to achieve and check-in with myself if I am on-track to my next checkpoint. For 2020 however, I went with the strategy of no resolutions! That’s because 2019 was an “interesting” year for me. It taught me many lessons and I made several big life changes! I quit my job, moved to a new city, travelled solo, learnt about my mother’s past traumas, and ended a long term meaningful relationship; not neccessarily in that order.

So for 2020 I had no resolutions. I just wanted to “live in the moment”, observe and enjoy life as it happened. It was amazing and miserable for a myriad of reasons but it was nice not being trapped working towards something just because I set a goal for myself at the start of the year. As I’m sure we can all relate, 2020 taught us a lot of lessons! So naturally before I could sit down and plan 2021, it was monumental to think about 2020 and all the lessons I learnt through the year! I cannot stress the importance of looking back before you can plan ahead. It’s like switching lanes or taking turns without doing your shoulder checks and looking in the rearview/side mirrors. It’s bad and you may injure yourself quite badly 🤕

To start things off, I took the first week of this year to reflect and plan 📔🤔 So for 2021, I decided to try something new for me! I decided to have goals that have a count but no upper limit. For e.g. Instead of “read 12 books this year”, it’s “Read More: 0”, and I will increase the number with each book I finish this calendar year. It’ll be interesting to see the metrics at the end of the year! This way I won’t be sad if I read 4 books because my goal was 12, I would just be grateful that I read 4 😄 in addition to whatever crazy things that I tried.

Now I don’t neccessarily recommend this strategy unless you have summoned either some self discipline or are extremely intentional and mindful about what you are doing each day. It’s very easy to not go to the gym if you don’t have a goal to measure, but if you’ve been hitting it pretty hard, it can be very relaxing to just take a few days off to recover and truly enjoy your time off and not sweat (pun intended) about the goal counter mismatch.

So without further ado, I’d like to share my 2020 reflections and what I have in store for 2021 :)

2020 Reflections

#1. Be that friend instead of wishing for one. 🎁

I’ve caught myself saying “I wish my friends did x…” more often than I care to admit. We all love when our friends do stuff for us! In fact, the mutual give and recieve is a pretty strong basis of any human connection. However, in the real world having unrealistic expectations is a pretty regular cause of unhappiness. So instead of wanting a friend who did “x”, I decided to be that friend. I intentionally made effort in remembering birthdays (thanks Google calendar), leaving random texts of how much I care for them, telling them I’m grateful for something they did, and some other small little gestures. Ofcourse, that doesn’t take away my want for validation (I’m still human afterall), but it helps immensely with strengthening bonds and connecting with my loved ones which in turn makes me happier 😋

#2. Spending a little never hurt anybody. 💸

If you know me, you know I am an extreme saver. I generally don’t eat out, I walk most places, my wardrobe is mostly T-shirts I got from various tech companies, and I always ask the question of need/want before I spend money on anything. Last year however, I bought a couple of things I didn’t need, but always wanted! I got myself a little roomba, some house plants, some books, and a new laptop, hell I even splurged for a PS4 pro! The amount of happiness these things have brought me in incalculable, even though I still save money on smaller things that add up, I occassionally let myself splurge a little because if not now, WHEN?

#3. It’s OK to not finish some things. 🚫

To some extent, I’ve always been a obsessed with finishing anything I’ve started! Even If I am not enjoying a certain book, TV show, video game, or a movie, I push myself to sit through the whole thing to completion.

Well, not anymore, 30% in a book and not enjoying the writing style or narrative? Goodbye! TV Show season 3 started being super bad and doesn’t seem to recover? Adios! I don’t need to absolutely see these through to the end and that’s completely ok.

#4. Being positive is hard, smiling constantly is harder; But very worth it! 😊

Oh boy! This one made me have immense respect for people who “always seems happy”. Many research shows that when you act like you are happy, subconsciously you start being more happy and satisfied in your life. Another bonus is people are more friendly with you and you are more likeable coz humans want to surround themselves with happy humans!

So if you’re like me, it’s much more easier to offer counter scenarios or suggestions on how things can go wrong, but very hard to offer supportive or positive recommendations. It took me a while to internalize “what if it does” instead of “what if it doesn’t” mindset. Risk assessment is important, but you can’t find something new by charting the same territories over and over.

So by being extra mindful of what I say, I’ve been able to generally remain more positive in situations, laughing things off, and smile through life more easily.

#5. Happines is a choice. 🙋

This is my current life mantra! Life presents us MANY choices but happiness seems to one of the things we attribute to external circumstances. I believe being happy is a conscious decision that we have to make every single day of our lives. Little things like smiling at yourself in the mirror while you brush your teeth, dancing in the gym while waiting for your next set, remembering people who love you when you’re having a shitty day; choosing to look at the positive instead of the negative.

For e.g. I injured my shoulder a few weeks back and had to take 2 weeks off of weightlifting, I was so happy that now I can focus more on my cardio and have more video game time! That’s because even though working out is one of my most favorite activities in the world, being sad about its unavailability wasn’t adding anything to my life. ¯\(ツ)

#6. F*ck it, Just do it. ✔

I’ve always been one for action over talk! But that’s only for bigger goals or things at work. For whatever reason, any personal goal, I’ve been afraid of working on. Maybe it’s the fear of failure, maybe it doesn’t seem valuable because I don’t see it “growing”, but I just wouldn’t do anything of that sorts.

So last year I just had a “f*ck it” moment and I launched this blog, my personal site, and started working on a podcast with a friend! Atleast now I don’t have to keep asking “what if” and focus on “what is”.

#7. Meditate any time you can. 😌

In a car, while on the bus, dentist’s waiting area! Wherever, whenever you can find a moment of peace or quiet to just close your eyes and breathe deeply, conquer it.

2021 Resolutions

So now that the lessons were learnt and a reflection was done, twas time to make the resolutions✍. I already have a pretty decent schedule with work, friends, and working out so I tried to keep the resolutions a bit realistic and aligned with my life values.

However, I may add things to this list based upon what life throws at me! I am ready to welcome you 2021 :)

#1. Read books 📖

One of my habits last year that sparked joy was to read loads of books and biographies! I really seem to enjoy it if the narrative is flowing and the style is a bit more casual. So this year I’m going to continue doing so! I’m already at 0.5 books and counting! :)

#2. Invest more 💰

It took me a while to understand that leaving money in your bank account is not the most effective way of making it grow! I learnt about stocks, ETFs, trading etc. So this year I am going to take those lessons and try to slow and steadily make some investments grow.

#3. Play more 🎮

2020 helped me get back into an old hobby of mine: Gaming! I forgot how much I loved going through a well narrated gameplay or choose your own adventure stories. So this year I’ll be keeping track of how many excellent games I played through.

#4. Write more 📓

More on this blog, more in my journal, and more on my personal blog! Until my wrist starts hurting from my bad typing posture, writing really gives me joy and I’m going to do more of it.

#5. Code more 💻

I really enjoy making one-off little applications and projects. So I’m going to try publishing more applications into the open source world and see what comes of it. Not really expecting this to be more than a single digit number but I thought twas worth being mindful of it and giving it a try :)

Final words 🙏

First of all, thank you so so much for reading this article! I am full of gratitude and I thank you for your time and interest 🙏.

I am SO looking forward to this particular revolution around the sun and I hope it brings loads of memories and lessons to us all! I would LOVE to hear what resolutions/goals you have set for this year!! Please reach out and let’s help each other stay on track!

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