So, 2020 was the Year of Habits. I was going to set things up for the new decade, start making things more regular, going to the gym, writing regularly, doing more creative things and making sure I kept doing them on a steady basis.
What an absolute joke that turned out to be!
I’m almost sick of saying and hearing this but 2020 has been a pretty universally shit year. Instead of the Year of Habits, it basically became the Year of Tearing Everything Down and Starting Again. There has been more disruption and change this year than any other year that I can remember. Life changed in such a way that no new habits could really be made and everything is so all over the place I’m not sure I’ve even wanted to.
You’re probably wondering what the hell I’m on about with “The Year of” — Maybe I should explain a little more first.
Yearly Themes are based on the “Theme System” by CGP Grey and Myke Hurley. Instead of setting arbitary New Years Resolutions that — let’s be honest — nobody sticks to, a “Theme” is set for the Year. This Theme becomes a “Guiding Principle” to which your decisions and actions can be guided towards.
These Themes are set as a “General Idea” and are designed to be amorphous and purposefully have a lack of “fail state”. For instance, if my New Years Resolution is to “Run 5 Miles a Day Every Day” then I could fail that. I may have a day where I’m not able to run, or I get injured, something comes up, or I just forget. Once I’ve missed one day — that’s it, I’ve failed, and psychologically I think — what’s the point? I’ve messed up your streak!
Alternatively, your Theme could be “The Year of Health”, where movement towards the goal is a success rather than actually hitting a specific target. If you miss a day — that’s fine, just move towards your goal again the next day. If you can’t run for whatever reason, or you’re able to do another form of exercise like swimming — that counts as well! Or you could decide that “Health” is related to diet, and cutting out junk food. All while still keeping within the same “Theme”.
As long as the overall set of decisions you make within the Year adds a positive directional push towards your goal — then you’re closer than you were when you started and it’s a success. The amorphousness of the idea makes it far easier to succeed and motivate you into making smaller decisions towards a larger goal.
I say “Year” here — because I find it’s a good frame of reference to begin with, but it can really be any length of time (CGP Grey actually mentions this himself in this handy video explaining the idea and prefers the term “Season” — it’s entirely up to you to figure out what works best for you).
Drum Roll Please
So, for 2021 I’ve chosen “The Year of Foundation” to be my Theme. I’ve chosen this due to a number of things changing in 2020 which now require me to set up a new Foundation for the long term (ideally around the next 10+ years). It’s inherently multifaceted in what I’m focusing on and there are many different areas it’s going to apply to. So, let me get into the juicy details.
2020 has seen a huge change to my family structure and it’s future. I won’t dwell on it here, but I lost a member of my family that was very close to me. After nearly a year of not being able to see them properly as well, to say 2021 and onwards will be different without them is more than an understatement.
On a more positive side — 2020 brought the news that there will be a new member of the family in 2021. I am due to be a father for the first time! Words cannot explain how overjoyed I am, and as you can imagine this will set an entirely new structure to my daily life and setting the foundation of my schedule for the next nearly two decades.
In some ways this is the most simple of Foundations as it will kind of set itself in place (I can hardly delay the birth!). It is however definitely the one with the biggest change to my life and how it runs. With it will bring new things to focus on — but it should be an exciting journey!
In 2020, like many people, I lost my day job and had to find another one. Being made redundant is never easy — being made redundant in the middle of a global pandemic, even less so. I was out of work for 3 months in total, which although, even with bills, didn’t tip my bank balance into problematic territory, it did pretty much set me back to 0.
If any of you have looked into the FIRE movement you know it’s important to have a solid emergency fund to back you up (for reference you’re looking at 6–12 months). Building this emergency fund back up after it was torn down will be difficult, but it’s important to make sure I’m moving in the right direction with it — especially with my other foundations to look after!
I’m making regular investments and building up my Safety Net again, ensuring I have a secure Financial Foundation that will set me up for the forseeable future. This one is a bit of a drudge and will take time, but as long as I’m moving in the right direction, then I’ll consider it a success.
Being made redundant and starting a new job in 2020 was more than a little jarring to say the least. It seemed to take forever to find something new that was a good fit but also seemed to fly by in a flash — just like the rest of this year!
To say I feel lucky to be working where I am is a gross understatement. I feel like I’ve not only fallen on my feet, but hit the ground running. I’ve found a place that really helps me grow and learn.
I’m so glad to have found a great place and will be working to build my role up in the next year, and hope to set myself up in a position I can stick at, excel at, and grow within for the long term.
Fitness is always a struggle. Three years ago I was in my physical peak, I cycled to and from work four to five days a week, swam twice a week for an hour, and went on regular runs — to the point I did a Half Marathon and Tough Mudder on a whim. Then I moved house, and my routine changed — I didn’t put enough effort into ensuring I was running or swimming regularly. Cycling to work was no longer — logistically speaking — an option, and it became a “Hobby” rather than systematised as “The way I got to work”.
I’ve signed up with gyms in the past and I find that unless I have people to go with, or Personal Trainers, I drift away from them at some point, and end up paying for a membership that I’m not using.
2020 highlighted the need to keep regular exercise for me, and not being able to go to the gym highlighted the need to be able to exercise no matter what state the rest of the world is in. This means setting up both a place at home I can exercise and a system I can use for exercise when I’m travelling. I’m trying out Fitbod (Sign up here to get a discount and support the Theme System) and am hoping it will give a more flexible but structured form to my workouts.
On top of this the complete change to my schedule with a new job gives me the opportunity to change my exercise routine at the same time and set it up in a way that fits with changes of the year.
Secondly, sorting out my diet and sleep is important to help me deal with the sleepless nights and inevitable stress I’m due to have soon. Getting used to a new norm will mean I have to think about these aspects more carefully, ensuring I’m getting enough rest to focus on everything and that I’m nourishing myself to keep me going!
Alongside everything else — in 2021 I want to set myself up in the Apple Hardware Ecosystem, by which I mean Moving to iPhone, getting an iPad, and using them alongside my Macbook. For years I’ve been playing around with Android, MacOS, Windows, even Linux. However, with changing priorities I’ve been thinking less about tinkering with Operating Systems — tweaking things until they’re “just right”, and I just want something that works and works well. Technology for me is becoming more of a tool than a toy, I’m less interested in playing around with it and I’d rather just get things done on it. If it gets 80% of the way there, and does it nicely then I’m absolutely happy with that and am willing to jump all in.
Standardising my technology means that I will know what my limits with it are, I will reduce my “Decision Overload”. When it comes to get a new phone or a new laptop — I will already know what I’m getting — just the next Apple device. There are a lot of apps that I’d like to use that come out on iOS that don’t come out at all on Android. Plus, I have trust that Apple are actually going to keep making their hardware rather than Google who seem hell bent on changing things up every year (my last two phones have been Pixel phones).
Also — I’ll moving to more Single Functional tech for specific tasks to reduce distractibility. I’ll be using my Kindle more to read so I don’t end up browsing my emails instead. For photography I’ll be sticking to my Sony a7iii. The photos come out better and it means I can spend more time curating them than just snapping shots all over the place. My iPhone will become purely a snapshot/backup camera.
Now… I have a lot of hobbies.
Running, Swimming, Cycling, Bouldering, Coding, Photography, Graphic Design, Writing, Illustration, Martial Arts, Golfing, Hiking, Chess, Reading, Videography, Guitar… I could go on… I just can’t help being interested in things. I find the variety fun and the challenge exciting.
I want to work at making sure I have hobbies that are going to push me and that I’m learning things to equip me better for the future. If that sounds wooly — it’s kind of meant to. Conversely to the Technological Foundation, I want to find things to tinker and play with. Trying out different things and finding what hobbies excite me and let my imagination roam.
This will also include actually working through some of the many projects that I’ve been putting on the back burner for so long. With a little extra time this year I managed to make a little progress with a couple of them and I found it so satisfying I’d love to keep the momentum going.
This is obviously going to be a busy and very broad year for me. I’m looking forward to it and am optimistic that it will be better than 2020. (please…. it’s got to be!)
Throughout the year I will review my Theme and see if it still fits — if it does — great! If not, then I can always adjust it and try something new.
Here’s to a better 2021. Onwards and Upwards. Thanks again for reading — I hope you enjoyed it.
If you have anything to add or any stories of your own — as always, let me know on Twitter!
Let me know if there are any topics you’d like me to talk about or if you want to get in touch or just say hi — give me a shout!