How was your 2020?

As we near the end of a year of pandemic, it’s worth looking back at these couple months and reflecting on what has happened.

I did a podcast with a dear friend of mine specifically on 2020 retrospectives and if New Year resolutions work , and wanted to add in more thoughts here; especially since we went into recording the podcast without a script, nor with any plans. They were simply topics we talk about whenever we met.

Do you do retrospectives on the past years?

Retrospectives are a way to look back at things that have happened, be it your year, your personal life, or some project at work that has happened. In army language, I suppose it’d be similar to an After Action Review (AAR).

In the product management field, retrospectives are a way for the team to look back at a sprint development cycle, and go through mainly 3 questions (though it would differ depending on your organisation). And the intent is to better the outcome of the next sprint:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go so well?
  3. What can you do to improve in the next sprint?

Personally, I find it important to take time to retrospect, so I am aware if I am going in the direction I have planned for. I actually don’t have the habit of reflecting on past years until a few years back, where a friend of mine shared me her way of reflecting on her life. She would take a few days off to go to a staycation, and just think about her life. One thing that she has taught me to do is to write my own eulogy, which is a piece of writing meant as tribute to someone who passed.

I thought of it as an intriguing exercise; because it forces me to confront the reality of life, which is death - and I am aware it is not a comfortable topic to discuss or even think about. Writing my eulogy allowed me to think about what I want to be remembered for (a very anthropological point of view, I know) — which helps me to better prioritise how I want to spend my time on things. Afterall, time is the most valuable resource we have.

To be honest, my life priorities did shift a bit after I spent a couple hours writing my own eulogy. I was much more deliberate in spending time with people I cared about.

No doubt the pandemic has disrupted the routines and plans of people worldwide, and I know people are tired of the work from home routine. I personally am not a fan of it, since I don’t get to mingle with my team mates or go for coffee walks. On a macro level, COVID has resulted in millions of deaths and economic instability for many.

COVID has definitely disrupted some of my plans, but, “when one door closes, another opens”. If you can’t do something you’ve planned for, it doesn’t mean you can’t do a million other things in life. There’s so many opportunities for a person to explore, it just depends on how much you want it. And I’m excited for my 2021.

While it wasn’t a great year for most of us (or at least for me), I am grateful the year happened. It allowed me to learn, to grow, to try new things, and to break out of a routine to challenge myself just a bit more. I hated some days, where I allowed myself to be unmotivated like a sloth. But most importantly, I believe consistency is key and one shouldn’t beat oneself up over a few lost days.

And despite everything, I’m grateful for being alive.

A reminder from one of my all time favourite book Cosmos - “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it’s forever.”

Life is so incredibly short and time will never be enough. On that note, I’m looking forward to watching Disney Pixar’s Soul where I noticed a particular question in the movie:

“Is all this living really worth dying for?”

With just a few more days left for 2020, maybe you’d consider a lil retro?