2020 Achievements and Reflections

Well. 2020 sure has been a weird year. At the beginning of the year I kicked off this blog writing about my 2020 resolutions which were:

  • Become fully fluent in Spanish
  • Learn to dance Salsa
  • Write more blog posts
  • Read a lot of books

I also had personal goals of learning to play the guitar and playing more squash. With the exception of Salsa dancing and squash-playing, which more-or-less went out the window with the start of the pandemic, I feel like I did really well.

My Spanish has improved to the point where people no longer tell me “wow your Spanish is really good” which is how I know I’ve gotten to the point where my Spanish has at least stopped annoying people — I can go to any cocktail party and meet strangers and get to know them and make jokes and have a nice time, which feels like a real success on the Spanish-learning front. My Spanish is still far from perfect, but I can watch Mexican movies and listen to Mexican podcasts without any real comprehension issues which is a real step-change from where I was at the end of 2019.

I did read a lot of books. 37 as of the time of this writing with the goal of trying to finish off a few more before the end of the year. And fully 17 of those books were in Spanish! I finally checked The Power Broker off of my list, and I also read a statistics textbook so I do feel like I was able to cover a lot of ground on the book-reading front.

My goal for the blog-post writing was one-per-week — I didn’t quite hit that, but I did publish a lot of blog posts both on my personal blog as well as over at Locally Optimistic as well as partnering up with some companies that are active in the data space. I feel good about the amount that I wrote, though a bit less-so about the quality — I didn’t love everything I posted, but I did break through the fear-of-publishing barrier which I think was the most important part of this year. Next year I’ll have a slightly adjusted goal for writing that attempts to balance both quantity and quality and better hits the sweet spot of where I think my talent lies.

Finally, I picked up two new hobbies — I’ve been learning the guitar for a few months now and while I’m continually re-learning that the skill-cap on guitar playing goes even higher than I had previously imagined, I finally feel like I’m making enough progress to enjoy my practice time, which is a big first-hurdle to cross. Additionally, I bought my first film camera and have been learning about photography generally and film-photography in particular. Through the guitar and the photography I’m really excited to have more art in my life to balance out the technology and work that takes up the most of the rest of my time. I’m excited to get to the point with both of those hobbies where I’m creating art that I actually like and am able to share with other people.

I’m blessed to have the resources to be able to take advantage of these difficult times to make progress on my personal goals, but I do feel proud that despite a number of temporary dips in motivation and dalliances with depression I was able to achieve so much. For me it really helps me to pause every once in a while (like to write this blog post) to look back on the progress I’ve made before refocusing on my goals for next year.

Next week I’ll publish my last blog post of the year with my resolutions and goals for 2021!

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By michael