It’s hard to believe this, but it’s been over six months since I last posted about my “20 for 2020” challenge, so it’s high time that I checked in on it again. It’s also rapidly closing in on the end of what has been an extremely difficult year, so I’m going to start doing some “wrap up the year” types of posts on various topics. This particular update will be presented as a two-part series. Today’s portion will focus on the non-wardrobe related goals within my “20 for 2020” (basically, the rest of my life), while later posts will cover my wardrobe, shopping, and style focused objectives. Let’s dive in!
About the “20 for 2020” Challenge & This Update
As a reminder, the “20 for 2020” challenge is a goal-setting framework introduced by writer and podcaster Gretchen Rubin, who started this novel take on New Year’s resolutions back in 2018. Rubin created this approach because many people have negative associations with the standard yearly “resolutions” and she wanted to make the goal-setting process fresher and more fun. There are various ways to create one’s yearly list (you can see some suggestions here), but I opted to separate my goals into categories to make sure to address the key areas of my life.
Because 2020 is what it is, I revised my initial “20 for 2020” list quite a bit in early May. I needed to remove a few of my goals that focused on travel and socializing (better luck next year, I hope…) and I also chose to pull out some tasks that didn’t really resonate with me any longer. We all have changing lives and shifting priorities, so it makes sense that we may need to shuffle our goals around from time to time. I don’t believe we need to adhere to goals just because they felt right at the time when we set them. It’s good to be flexible and make changes when our lives, motivations, and interests shift – and we all know that 2020 has been a year of unpredictability and change!
My non-wardrobe goals were divided among the following categories:
- Health and Personal Growth
- Writing / Work / Productivity
- Family / Relationships
- Fun-Related Goals
- Miscellaneous Items
In the sections below, I’ll remind you of my goals and share a brief update on each one (stay tuned for the wardrobe updates next time… – I wanted to avoid a marathon post!). As a bit of foreshadowing, I’ll state that I haven’t accomplished all of them and I likely won’t complete the list before the dawn of 2021. I’m actually okay with that, as it’s been a rough year and a lot of people haven’t done what they set out to do back in January.
For many of us, this year has been mostly about survival and keeping afloat physically, emotionally, and financially. I’ve definitely been less focused on goals and achievement and more tuned in to trying to be grateful for my blessings and finding pockets of happiness and joy within my days. I would like that to remain my stance even after the pandemic is behind us, as life isn’t about how many tasks and goals we can check off our lists, but rather about how much love and fulfillment we can experience during the relatively short time that we’re alive. I’m reminded of the tagline of this very blog – “Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment… in a chaotic world” – which is something I’d like to keep top of mind as I live out my days.
All that said, I still want to reflect back upon my “20 for 2020” list, but with a spirit of compassion for myself as someone who has struggled to stay positive and upbeat during a dark time. As I’m sure many of you have also experienced more challenges than usual this year, I’d like to suggest that you show more empathy for yourselves, too, as we close out the type of year that we never expected to encounter. If any good can come out of all of this (which I do believe will happen on various fronts), perhaps one element will be cultivating more kindness and empathy toward others – and for ourselves.
Health and Personal Growth Goals
This was a bit of a mish-mosh category that encompassed both lofty and less challenging goals. Let’s take a look at what I planned to do this year and what actually took place.
- Complete Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) Course – COMPLETED IN APRIL
I had already completed this course when I did my May “20 for 2020” update, but I included it in my revised list because it was a pretty comprehensive program and I was proud of myself for having done it. The DNRS program is for people who have struggled with various health issues and have been unable to heal through traditional methodologies. It’s based on the concept of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change, even later in life) and it directly targets brain function instead of chasing symptoms.
There are many testimonials from people who found relief after years of chronic pain and illness, so I was encouraged that it might be the answer (or at least part of the answer) for me, too. The program is recommended by a number of medical professionals who have referred some of their most challenging patients to DNRS and have seen positive results.
- Do DNRS (almost) daily practice for 6+ months – PARTIALLY COMPLETED
Although I was aware of DNRS for several years before doing the course, I hesitated to take it on because I knew that it required a rigorous commitment of at least an hour a day for a minimum of six months. But since I was feeling more desperate about the state of my health and a close friend of mine with similar symptoms had started the program, I decided to dive in back in April. At the time, I had little idea of what the program entailed, so I was kind of “flying blind” when I took it on.
I did my best to do the daily exercise of the program from May through August, but I struggled with it and wasn’t seeing results, despite having several private coaching sessions and participating in a twelve-week group. Towards the end of that timeframe, I attended a webinar with a psychologist who works with chronic pain patients. I resonated a lot with what he had to say (which is different from DNRS but not totally contradictory), so I decided to start working with him, which I’m still doing. I’ve also continued to work on positive lifestyle changes to better support my health and well-being. This is all a work in progress, but I’m feeling more encouraged that I might be moving in the right direction.
I may choose to revisit DNRS at a later date, but for now I have put it aside in favor of other practices. Although I don’t feel that it’s the solution for me, I’m still glad that I decided to check it out. I do believe it can be a solution for other people, as different approaches work for different people. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for most health challenges, but I’m hopeful that I will achieve better health in 2021 and beyond. One day at a time…
- Read/listen to 20+ books (at least 5 from health/personal growth list) – STILL IN PROCESS
In order to update this goal, I had to look back at the books that I’ve read so far this year. What I discovered was a quite eclectic list! I’ve read fewer books than usual, as I’ve been reading more news articles and the like, but I feel that I’m still on track to accomplish this goal. I’ve already met my objective of reading at least five books from my health/personal growth reading list, but I still need to read a few more books to meet my overall goal of at least twenty books for the year.
If I finish two of the books that I’m in the process of reading (I often read more than one book at a time) and also read two others that I’m planning on reading (one is for my December book club virtual meeting), I will just slide in at twenty by year’s end.
Here are links to a few of my favorite books that I read during 2020 (affiliate links, so I’ll make a small commission if you purchase any of them):
- Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)
- The Dutch House (Ann Patchett)
- Project 333 (Courtney Carver)
- All Adults Here (Emma Straub)
- They Can’t Find Anything Wrong (David D. Clarke, MD)
- Back Pain Permanent Healing (Steven Ray Ozanich)
- The Complete Enneagram (Beatrice Chestnut)
- 2019 Year in Review exercise – COMPLETED IN FEBRUARY
As I mentioned in my May update, I completed this exercise in February. It would have been preferable to have done it in early January, but I still benefited from this reflection at a later date. The year in review exercise includes fifty questions to ponder, forty of which pertain to the year that has just ended and ten that relate to planning the upcoming year. I’ve been doing this process since 2017 and I plan to do it again in early 2021 (after the way this year has gone, it should be very interesting!). If you’d like to check it out and maybe give it a try, you can find it HERE. The link is from 2017, but I just replace the year accordingly, which is easy to do.
Writing / Work / Productivity Goals
- Publish at least 24 blog posts. – WILL FALL SHORT HERE
Well, if you’ve been following the blog this year, you know that this one isn’t likely to happen! I originally set a target of thirty posts back in January, but I lowered the number to twenty-four when I did my May update. This is my eighteenth post in 2020, so I suspect I will come in a little short by the end of the year. At this point, I’m going to aim for twenty-one posts, as I believe that’s doable for me even though my posting frequency has been way down during most months this year. I’ve been a little creatively blocked lately, as well as stressed about the state of the world, but I have ideas to round out the year with my recap posts and finish on a positive note.
- Take on a new writing project and/or find a way to earn a regular income. – PENDING
I have not completed this goal, but I do have a few ideas for projects that I could do. I haven’t finalized my plans yet, but I hope to do so within the next month or so. I definitely have more clarity than I did back in May, so that’s a positive thing. I’ve been sad about how infrequently I’ve been writing as of late because I really do enjoy writing and find it to be a good creative and emotional outlet for me. I also like sharing my ideas with others and connecting with like-minded individuals online.
I know a lot of bloggers have either moved on to podcasting, videos, and social media platforms, either instead of or in addition to their blogs, but I still prefer long-form writing over other modes of communication. I’ve read for years now that “blogging is dead,” but I don’t think it will ever truly die, even if it’s not as “in vogue” as it once was.
There are still those who would rather read essays than scroll through social media (count me in that group!) and I don’t think it has to be an either/or proposition when it comes to blogs versus podcasts or YouTube channels. I don’t see myself having my fingers in multiple pies because I get overwhelmed so easily, so I will likely just stick to what I’m most comfortable with, which is writing essays. It may not continue to be on this blog, but I will likely remain in “the blogosphere” for the foreseeable future. As for other projects, when I have something to announce, I will certainly do so!
- “Just one thing” approach M-F each week (preferably before noon). – MOSTLY COMPLETED
I wrote about this approach last December and I’ve continued to implement it most weekdays (and some weekend days) since then. I’m still not the greatest at determining my “one thing” in advance and getting it done early in the day, but I almost always designate a key item to accomplish and get it done sometime before the day is over.
One thing I’ve learned, though, is that it’s often helpful to set a timeframe for my one thing, as so many tasks take longer than we think they will. For example, instead of selecting “write blog post” as my thing to do on a given day, I will likely instead specify something like “work on blog post for at least an hour.” I will often spend much longer on the task than I specified, but I will still get to experience a feeling of success even if I don’t finish the entire task (sometimes my blog posts many hours to complete – and the same is true for a lot of other tasks). Since I’m working on being less hard on myself, I find that giving myself opportunities to “pat myself on the back” rather than beat myself up is helpful in that pursuit!
Family / Relationship Items
- Improve relationships with my family. – GOOD PROGRESS HERE
I would say that most of my family relationships are better now than when the year began. I still don’t communicate with many of them all that often, but sometimes it can be more about quality than quantity. I do keep in touch with some family members (including my parents, who are both in their late seventies) more frequently than I used to, so I’m happy about that. I still don’t think that I will ever be extremely close to most of my family because we’re all so different and many of them are very busy, but I’m satisfied with the improvement that has been made and I hope that these relationships continue to move in the right direction.
- Pare down / organize my mother-in-law’s photos, scan them in. – COMPLETED IN SUMMER
This was a much more monumental task than I had originally anticipated, but I’m happy to report that it has been completed! My husband and I spent many hours going through, paring down, and sorting hundreds of photos and organizing them by year, or at least by decade. Then we painstakingly scanned them all in (fortunately, my husband found a good app to help in that effort), so we now have all of the photos in digital format. That was a big feat to accomplish, so we’re proud that we made it happen. Not having a whole lot to do in light of the pandemic definitely helped us to keep our eye on the prize, so to speak.
My husband’s sister is now going through all of the photos to double-check our sorting and provide additional feedback on the years and the people in the photos. Then our next step will be to appropriately organize the digital files. If anyone has any suggestions for good photo archival software, I would appreciate your input. The way I usually organize photos is in a digital folder system, but maybe there’s a better twenty-first century solution out there.
- Memory book for my mother-in-law. – PENDING
As you may remember if you’ve been reading for a while, my mother-in-law passed away in August 2019. I would like to create two memory books for her, one for her life (as well as the life of my father-in-law, who died in 2008) and one for her artwork. The task above relates to the first memory book, which I think I will have as a target for early 2021. It’s still possible to create the art memory book by the end of the year, as there is less work involved there. However, my mother-in-law was quite prolific – and talented – artist. She created hundreds of beautiful paintings, mostly in watercolor and pastels, over a period of forty years.
My husband and I already sorted the paintings by category and have them stored in archival boxes accordingly. We also have many of them hanging on our walls, and my sister-in-law and stepson have some in their homes as well. We just need to figure out how to photograph the paintings to do them justice. Then we can finalize the categories and sub-categories so I can create the memory book using a program like Shutterfly or something similar. We probably won’t be able to have the book in hand by the end of the year, but it’s still possible to have it created by then. It may not be finished until early 2021, but I’m still going to try to get it done by December 31st. I will order several copies of the memory book so that other family members can also enjoy the lovely pieces that my mother-in-law created over the course of her life.
- Scan in and organize old family photos from my mom. – COMPLETED IN SPRING
Fortunately, my mom didn’t have as many old photos as my mother-in-law, so this was a much less time-consuming endeavor. All of the photos have been scanned, but I’d like to do something meaningful with them, too. Perhaps I can combine them with old family photos from my dad (my parents divorced when I was fourteen and my dad has been remarried for over thirty years) and some of my childhood photos and create sort of a “family tree” sort of book. I’m not exactly sure what I will do with these photos as of yet, but I’m glad that they’re all digitized because some of them were starting to fall apart.
- Decide what to do about Facebook – and do it! – PENDING
I took a break from Facebook early in the year, which I’d intended to be for only a few weeks or a month. Then the pandemic hit, as well as all of the racial unrest and political mess (that I haven’t written about but certainly felt on a deep level). I knew that being on social media in light of all of that chaos would only serve to increase my already significant anxiety, so I continued to stay away. The weeks turned into months and here I am…
I think I’m going to try to see if I can use Facebook in a measured way to keep in touch with a small number of people with whom I’ve missed communicating (mostly one main group that I’ve been in for several years and is very active). I will never be the type of “super-user” that I used to be and I have no desire to do so. I don’t think anyone expected me to participate on Facebook as much as I used to or as much as they do, but I thought that they did and that led me to experience a lot of guilt. The time away has led me to realize that much of my unhappiness about social media was self-generated by comparing myself to others and projecting thoughts and feelings onto them that were probably never there.
I have no idea whether or not I will be able to be on Facebook without feeling bad, but I’m going to give it one last try. At this point, I’m okay with it going either way. I may feel just as anxious and guilty about it as I used to, as I don’t want to spend a lot of time on there and it may continue to feel like just a “drop in the bucket” that doesn’t make any difference at all. If I feel like I have to spend hours on there in order to feel like a part of the community (in that one main group), I may just need to walk away for good. But I may find that I can meaningfully interact on a handful of threads and leave it at that.
I just don’t know how it’s going to go, but I’ve made peace with the fact that I just might not be cut out for social media. I used to participate a lot, but I always felt anxious and guilty; I was just compromising myself and my own feelings to try to make other people happy (even though they may not have really cared that much anyway!). I’m not going to do that anymore and I’m only going to spend as much time on the platform as I’m comfortable with. I’m also only going to interact on select threads instead of trying to read and respond to all or most of them. I realize that I just can’t (and don’t want to) do it all and that’s okay. I have to honor myself as much (or more) than I honor others, on social media and everywhere. I guess that’s one of my “quarantine lessons” this year – and it’s a good one!
- Try 25+ new recipes (at least 10 should be meal options). – COMPLETED?
I haven’t counted the number of new recipes I’ve tried this year, but I know that it FAR exceeds twenty-five! I’m not sure if I’ve tried ten new meal options, but just in case, I’m going to commit to doing a few more of those by the end of the year. I love to bake and it’s something that I find soothing and stress-relieving, so needless to say, I’ve done a lot of it during this extremely stressful year! Because I’m not going to social gatherings where I can “share the wealth,” I’ve either cut down recipes or stored part of my goodies in the freezer, as it’s just my husband and me (and neither of us are big eaters).
I usually try to bake healthy, low-sugar items – and all of it is gluten-free. Just for fun, I thought I’d share links to some of the new recipes that I’ve tried this year. There were many more than what I’m linking to here because a lot of them were in physical cookbooks that I can’t link to, but here are a few of my favorite recipes from 2020:
- Keto Avocado Brownies
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Healthy Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
- Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
- Cashew Coconut Yum Yum Balls
- No-Bake Energy Bites
- Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread
- Low-Carb Cinnamon Flaxseed Muffin in a Mug
- Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- Gingerbread Cashew Butter Kiss Cookies
- Pumpkin Smoothie
- Life-Changing Coffee Smoothie
Yes, those are all dessert and snack recipes, but I promise that I made some meal options as well. It’s just that those were pretty much all in my cookbooks and not available for me to link to here. I do need to focus more on cooking than I do, but I’m definitely more of a baker than a cook!
- Watch 50+ movies. – ALMOST COMPLETED!
I have been tracking the movies I watch on a wall calendar, but I didn’t tally up the number until today in preparation for this post. As of today, I’ve watched forty-five movies this year! My husband and I have been watching a movie every weekend, alternating which one of us gets to make the selection. We used to watch at least half of our movies in a theater, but the theaters have mostly been closed where I live. They were open for maybe two months in late summer, but there weren’t many new releases out, so they were mostly showing older films. Since we had gotten so accustomed to watching movies at home and there’s still a big risk with the virus, we never ventured back into the theaters (and now they’re closed again).
With about six weeks left in the year, I should end 2020 having seen 51 or 52 films. Not bad… We’ve watched a wide assortment of movies from multiple genres, including old movies, comedies (a lot of need for those these days!), dramas, romances, and documentaries. A handful of the movies were ones we watched for the second, third, or even tenth time! We always rate the films we watch on a scale of one to ten. We usually mostly agree, but we may differ by a point or sometimes two. Our highest rated movies this year – rated as a nine or ten by at least one of us – include (links to IMDB pages):
- Miss Americana
- The Razor’s Edge (1946 version)
- Emma. (2020 version)
- Pretty Woman
- 12 Angry Men
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
- Office Space
- Meet Joe Black
- Spirits in the Forest
- Somewhere in Time
- The Court Jester
- The Social Dilemma
- My Octopus Teacher
- The American President
- Trading Places
- Find a new way to contribute/volunteer. – PENDING
Well, everything is still quite shut down where I live, so I haven’t been able to dive into any new volunteer work this year. I will push this goal out to 2021 and try to be hopeful that more in-person activities of all types will become available once again. If not, I’m sure I will be able to find a virtual way of contributing to others (beyond my blogging, which I’d like to think is a way of contributing, too).
Because I spend so much time alone and wanted to shift that, my preference was to volunteer in person, but with the changing world, I may have to readjust this objective. We shall see, but given that the year is almost over, I’m guessing that this goal will not be accomplished in 2020. However, I have donated more money to charities than usual this year, as there has been a greater need and more donor outreach, so I do feel good about that.
- Solve home heating/cooling issues. – COMPLETED IN MARCH
This goal was completed in March, right around the time when the shelter-in-place mandate was given for the state of California. My husband and I have been extremely grateful for this system, especially since both of us are at home most of the time. We had a very hot summer, but our system kept us cool. Now that it’s cooled down, we’re happy to be able to quickly warm up our home in the early mornings and late evenings. It was an expensive project, but we feel that it was money well spent and one of the best things we’ve done to improve our home.
Conclusion – and Your Thoughts?
Whew! That was a lot, so I’m glad I broke this update into two parts. I actually opted to have 21 goals for 2020 instead of 20, as it was hard for me to narrow them down, so there are five remaining goals to cover that are in the wardrobe realm. Stay tuned for my wardrobe update posts soon…
I don’t think I will be doing a “21 for 2021,” or if I do, it will be less lofty and more focused on fun. This year has really underscored the fact that life is short and we never know what might be around the corner. I would like to focus more on enjoying my life. Of course, I will still have projects that I will be working on, but I want to make sure that as many of them as possible spark joy in addition to producing a feeling of accomplishment. Hmm… maybe some shadows of what my word for 2021 might be! I haven’t given that too much thought as of yet, but you can see where my mind is going. Fingers crossed that 2021 will be a much better year for all of us!
Now I’d love to get your thoughts. Feel free to comment on anything I’ve shared in this post, as well as about how you’re doing with your own goals for 2020.
- Did you do a “20 for 2020” list of your own or otherwise set some objectives for the year?
- Have you decided to throw all of that out the window given what a dumpster fire this year has turned out to be?
Pretty much anything goes when it comes to your feedback here. I just love hearing from you, so please feel free to share whatever is on your mind.
Happy Thanksgiving to My U.S. Readers
Blessings to all of you, my dear readers, and for those who are in the United States, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! I know it will likely look a lot different for most of us (it will just be my husband and me enjoying a mini celebration together this year), but hopefully we can all still find some happy moments within the day and weekend. I believe that in spite of hardship, we all still have a lot to be grateful for. Please know that I’m always grateful to you and the fact that you take time out of your days to read my words. Stay well and I will be in touch again soon!