Oh what an year! I want to try and not keep ranting about how I have not liked it. When I look back, I can only remember feelings of fear, anxiety, claustrophobia and grief interspersed with fleeting manufactured hope. So, I will keep that part short to say that it will definitely not be a part of my favorite years list.
In case you are interested, you could also check out the previous two years in review:
My Report Card
But, when it came to using the resolutions I made at the beginning of the year to keep me on track, the year seemed better. In fact, if you were to look only at those and how I have fared, you could be forgiven for thinking I had a phenomenal, smashing 2020. So, let’s get down to it.
1. Regularity with bullet journaling
In this context, I have had an insight. I generally start my years quite strong when it comes to bullet journaling. But towards the last quarter, all that discipline seems harder and harder to nail down into neatly defined pages. But, with each year at it, I think my duration of being regular with it is getting better.
This year though, bullet journaling afforded me an opportunity to break a myth about myself. I have always thought I am terrible at any kind of artistic venture. But, this time, I invested time and effort to result in some doodling output I am quite proud of. Take a look at some of my favourites from this year’s bullet journal.
Verdict: 80% successful
2. Run a 5K
I have always found running boring and let’s face it, I still do. But, one thing I want to do is keep challenging myself and breaking any mental barriers that I might erect knowingly or unknowingly. Sometimes pop culture also ends up inspiring you in unimaginable ways and as mentioned in the resolution post, Prime Video original Brittany Runs a Marathon did that for me. Also, having seen so many of my friends and colleagues around me, doing these runs and finding them exhilarating I knew this was one mental block I wanted to break.
Last December end, I started going for a run every 2-3 days a week using the Couch 2 5K app to guide me through the different stages. Most days, I had to use all possible self motivation guru pep talk to get me there. But, as the days went by, I was mostly able to jog on the parts that the annoying stuttering voice in my ear told me to.
In around February, I started looking up for marathons and half marathons being organized in the city. At first, I thought that one around Easter in April seemed like the earliest I would be ready for. Then I saw one which was happening on Womens’ Day, 8th March, and followed a beautiful route partly next to the sea. I signed up thinking it could atleast be a start.
Now, in hindsight, 17 days before the total coronavirus lockdown in India I completed my first 5K run in about 47 minutes! To mark that momentous occasion, here’s some proof.
Verdict: 100% success!*
*(Although I should count it as success only if I start back on that habit)
3. More language variety in my reading
This resolution of mine had two legs to it. Read five novels in Hindi and be able enough to read five short stories in German. For the former, I knew I needed to cut down on the possible excuse of unavailability of content and promptly ordered five classics. Suffice it to say, unavailability was not the only excuse that would have worked since I just could not get myself engrossed in the Hindi books.
As for the German short stories, I am pretty pleased to say that not only am I now able to make sense of some short stores (with a little help) but I have also finished the Duolingo course! In this context, I am a fan of Andre Klein and his short, cute stories for German learners. They have been a godsend.
As a bonus, this year I also ended up watching two Punjabi movies and thoroughly enjoyed them. To give some context, I am a Punjabi born and brought up in Delhi with both my parents still having roots in the state. Punjabi has always been an important language, especially while talking to our extended family. But, I have never bothered to learn the script or try speaking it extensively taking the easy way out of understanding it easily enough considering it’s similarity to Hindi.
Verdict: 50% successful
4. Call some friends atleast once a month
This was a resolution arrived on after having distinctly felt this warm glow of talking to friends along with the reckoning that some structure could just get me closer in touch. Funnily enough, it seemed like coronavirus stepped in to aid me here making most of the world keenly feel the importance of human relations.
While I was the one who started with this resolve, gradually most friends started reciprocating by randomly calling for a catch up. The cherry on the top is the fact that with some friends now, video has become a favoured route which just sort of seems to melt the miles between us.
Verdict: 100% successful
5. One big bang achievement
This was a bit vague yes but then I tried to break it down into two main threads. One, I really wanted to start work on a new novel. Half way through the year, I realized that unless I free myself of the shadow of my first one I am unable to really move forward. So, no novel really got started but one did get self published. More on that later.
The second one was about continuing education in my field of finance through two exams that I had enrolled for. The good news is I am done with one and have passed the exam in March itself. The not-so-good is the fact that I haven’t touched my books for the second one in ages!
As I realized last year, resolutions can only give a broad path which can help us follow a vision we might have imagined. Finally, at the end of the year a lot of things could end up looking different. Hence, some other things that I want to remember as a part of 2020:
1. Self-published my first novel
I had a mostly finished 80,000 word manuscript of a novel to my name since about May 2019. Then followed a string of rejections from Publishers and Agents leaving me dejected at it’s wake. Around the middle of this year, I realized that I needed to get this book out to be able to think of anything going forth.
However, I was really scared. If everyone had rejected it was it even good enough? More importantly, I know nothing about the industry and one of the main reasons to go with a traditional publisher is the marketing chops up their sleeve. What if the book is good but I am just not able to give it the platform it deserves? As I battled furiously with these questions, thankfully my personal Yoda, my husband helped me sort them out in my head with a simple logic – if you have worked so hard on it and loved it, give the world a chance to see it and let it fly.
Then, came a journey with so many learnings! While you could always read a detailed behind the scenes here, suffice it to say that designing the cover on Canva, laying it out on Reedsy and then listing it on Kindle as well as figuring out a paperback option at the last minute is an adventure I wouldn’t trade. Sometimes, you have to push yourself and take a deep plunge, remembering to hold on only to the good parts.
As for the response, so far whenever I have logged in to see how it’s faring on Goodreads, I am generally pinching myself to validate the rating I see. Yes, traditional publishing might have still done a better job, but in this case it’s all me.
2. Tried and failed quickly at two writing projects
There were a few challenging months in the peak of the lockdown where I knew I really needed a better purpose. More importantly, there were many times when I felt that burning urge to make this extra time count. With my job often not occupying me enough or doing a decent job at fulfillment, I started writing a Personal Finance book. Mid-way I gave up on the idea because it seemed like I have way too much to say for one book. However, I think me and that book are just on a break and we plan to get back together again.
Then, inspired by Morning Brew, I started weekday newsletter for an Indian landscape. Initial few days were a lot of fun and then I started dreading the whole exercise. I thought reducing the frequency might do the trick. But, just keeping track of all the news, filtering out what needs to be written about and just writing it in a fun and engaging manner may not be a one-person job. I got great reviews from a lot of people but beyond a point it just wasn’t working out for me. It wasn’t the newsletter, it was me!
3. Getting better at donating to charity
Last year, I started a payroll donation whereby a tiny amount gets deducted from my salary each month to be donated to the bank’s charitable organization. However, this year I have been extremely grateful for the fact that I did not suffer a loss in income. Yes, I can always crib about how like always I was unfairly reviewed in the usual annual appraisals. But the train of my still having faith in that process has long left the station.
In my gratitude of not losing income and also not ending up spending much, whenever the opportunity so arose I tried to donate. I donated a bit to an acquaintance from business school who started a crowd funding for her brother’s treatment. I donated a bit to an initiative started by my college to help fund digital education logistics like cost of internet etc. I also donated a bit to an organization called Salaam Bombay which is again into education of street kids. I am choosy as to where I donate but if I have any inkling of trust or faith in people associated with it, I am now going to try and loosen my purse strings.
With philanthropy, I realized there is never a good time. You can wait all you want for birthdays and special occasions. But, if you try and make it more frequent even with however small an amount I think not only does it get a better share of mind but the probability of donating more also increases.
And that brings down the curtains on my 2020.
You could also check out my previous two years in review:
How has the year 2020 been for you? Okay fine, let me rephrase. What made the year go a little easier on you? Any wins that made it memorable in a good way? Let me know in the comments below.