My 2020 Year in Review
Oh god no!
That pretty much sums up how I mostly feel about 2020, and I bet a lot of you guys can relate.
But I’m going to attempt to sift through the ashes of my dumpster fire of a year and see if there’s anything good that can be salvaged here (SPOILER: of course there is!).
And I hope you can grab something from this post that can help you focus on some positive things from your year as well.
NOTE: Keep in mind that this isn’t an economical, political or social commentary on 2020. Those are important but separate conversations. I’m just a blogger who talks about personal development stuff and how I’m getting my own sh*t together in life, so my focus in this blog post will be more inward, personal and individual.
So in no particular order, here are eight significant things I accomplished (or failed to accomplish) in 2020.
1. I Epically Failed My 1,000,000 Words in One Year Writing Challenge (2020)
At the end of 2019, my friend Michael Brockbank of WriterSanctuary.com wrote about doing a one million word writing challenge in 2020.
His goal was to accumulate at least a million published words writing for his clients, his blogs, his novel and some other blogging platforms.
At the time, I was hopelessly stuck in a 2-year-long rut and nearly unable to squeeze out any writing for my clients at the content mills or my blog or HubPages or anywhere.
I really needed a kick in the pants.
So, like an idiot, I decided to follow old Obi-wan on some damn fool idealistic crusade.
And, like an idiot, I didn’t even make it a tenth of the way to my goal. I mostly just sat there at my desk for hours every day, accomplishing next to nothing.
My grand total word count for 2020 is just 62,771 words.
Okay, so let’s just toss that one back into the dumpster fire and move forward.
I am still considering taking another whack at this same writing challenge in 2021, but I might come at it from a different angle and go by total blog posts and guest posts written rather than word count.
Either way, it’s just a number.
But I like numbers 🙂
And it’s really about what the numbers REPRESENT:
- Work Ethic
Those are what really matter to me.
The numbers just give me something tangible to focus onto, something I can quantify and track and look back on for reference when my memory gets a little fuzzy or when I’m overlooking important details and distorting my perception.
(I’ll come back to that idea in a minute.)
2. I Quit Freelance Writing…Permanently
I already wrote at length in another blog post about how I went back and gave it my best shot at Textbroker and some other content mills in 2017-2020 before finally hanging it up last month (November 2020).
So I won’t take a lot of time here to repeat the details.
Quitting freelance writing was a very tough decision for me. It’s hard to let go of weekly paychecks (even small ones) when your bills are stacked up to the ceiling.
While it might have seemed like I made that decision rashly and out of nowhere, the tug-of-war in my brain had actually been going on for years. So much so that I couldn’t even complete basic articles for clients to get those weekly paychecks.
And when the idea of walking away from it all popped into my mind during a moment of frustration with a new direct order client on Textbroker, I instantly knew that I was done.
I instantly knew it was time to leave not only content mills, but clients and freelance writing altogether (even the highest-paying gig of my writing career that was basically dropped in my lap by a friend – even the one that could have allowed me to move on from content mills forever and catch up on my bills – even THAT one).
This sudden move was actually a long time coming.
When I first got into making money online back in March 2012, I wanted to work for myself, be a blogger and earn scalable, passive income. But with only a few pennies trickling in from my own sites and HubPages, I got sidetracked when some fellow bloggers recommended freelance writing at content mills.
After my niche sites took a beating and my comics syndication attempt failed, I crawled back to those content mills determined to make it work.
The instant income stream and weekly payouts were helpful, and I’m grateful for the thousands of dollars that I made at content mills over the years. Those sites helped me pay at least SOME of my bills and help provide for my family.
But pursuing active income, trading hours for dollars, doing work that was largely unfulfilling and jumping through hoops for clients was not what I originally signed up for.
And I think that by diluting my focus and draining my motivation, it held me back from focusing on my own blogs and building passive income streams.
So after eight years of scattered efforts, I was burned out and dead in the water.
It was pretty hopeless – and unbelievably frustrating.
All along I wanted passive income, scalable income, freedom to express what was inside me and total ownership/control of my own work.
Freelance writing provides none of those things. In fact, it is literally the exact opposite of what I wanted to build into my life all along.
So when I finally bit the bullet and quit freelance writing last month, it didn’t really feel like failure.
It felt FREEING and EMPOWERING.
And though it’s going to take some time before I can see the financial fruits of my labor as a full-time blogger, the only regret I have is that I didn’t make the jump years ago.
3. I Started Blogging Again
Here I am.
This is what I should have been doing all along.
But why wasn’t I?
It wasn’t laziness.
Nor was it unrealistic expectations about getting rich blogging.
Nor was it lack of motivation, skills, experience or knowledge.
It was straight up fear – specifically, LACK OF SELF CONFIDENCE.
If you don’t believe in yourself as a blogger, you’re toast. You can’t just keep setting goals like, “I’m gonna write XXX blog posts this year” and then ooze into it with low energy and lack of conviction.
You’ve got to know that you are legit and that you have something of value to offer others.
But early on in my blogging career, I let self-doubt camp inside my head. And it took me damn near eight years to finally pull the trigger and send that f*cker back to his spawn point.
Today, I don’t give a f*ck what anyone says about me. I KNOW WHO I AM, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let anyone else project their negativity on me and tell me otherwise.
A few years ago I came close to overcoming this problem. After quitting blogging completely, I was finally able to buy back my domain (ChrisDesatoff.com) from whoever bought it over in China lol. And my tagline was going to be, “My blog. My opinions. Take it or leave it.”
But then I chickened out again and my new blog sat mostly dormant with an occasional post now and then.
Not in 2021.
4. I Gained 27 Lbs (but then I lost 14)
- February 29 2020: 302 lbs
- November 17 2020: 329 lbs
Gee, it’s almost as if something started happening around February that stressed me out and led me to gain weight even faster that usual.
A few days after hitting my new lifetime high (329 lbs) on November 11, fellow blogger Michael Brockbank announced on his other blog that he was doing a 6-week year-end weight loss challenge to try to take off some pounds.
And I decided to join him on that one too.
I wrote six blog posts about that (no…8 posts, actually), but the short version is that despite getting off to a rocky start, I managed to lose 9 lbs in 6 weeks. Along the way, I eased into an easy diet plan that seems to be working for me, even though I am not always consistent. So I’m going to continue working with that this year in 2021.
5. I Started Vlogging (then quit again)
Actually…waitaminute…was that this year or last year…?
Sh*t man, 2020 was so damn long I don’t even know what happened. Seems like I was stuck in a time warp.
Well, I wanted to restart vlogging on Youtube, but then I struggled with how to organize my content. There was also the self-confidence thing mentioned above. That is my biggest obstacle to vlogging. And it’s a little complicated…and personal.
Anyway, in the end I just deleted all my Youtube content to clear the way for new things in 2021. But I’m still not sure if I’m going to vlog again just yet.
Vlogging is fun and easy and energizing for me, yet it’s also stressful and hard and tiring in its own way.
So I dunno. For now, I’m just gonna focus on blogging.
6. I Started a Podcast (yes, I did)
I put up one episode a long time ago. It might have actually been in 2019, not 2020?
Hm. Not sure. Too lazy to look it up.
And MONTHS LATER I finally put up a second episode here in 2020. It’s just audio versions of video stuff (which is now deleted lol). So idk.
Is this a plus or a minus?
Back into the dumpster with this one.
I’ll let you know when I start the podcast up again.
7. I Got to Teach My Son How to Drive
I probably won’t remember a damn thing on this list 40 years from now – except that this was the year when I got to teach my younger son how to drive.
I missed the boat with our oldest, so I decided I had better nudge Son #2 to get behind the wheel before he moved out on his own. Glad I did too, because he’s doing great and is already a better driver than me lol. At least, he’s picking it up faster than I did, I think.
LIFE LESSON: on the down side, this was yet another example in my life of how I wished I had done better as a parent with Son #1. That’s one of the tough things about parenting. You make a ton of mistakes with your first kid bcuz you don’t know wtf you’re doing. So then you try to correct yourself and do better with your second kid.
Kind of a bum deal for the oldest kid tho lol. Sorry, man! Love ya, MWAH!
8. I Made Some Progress with Building New Habits
You know how everyone on Youtube does these videos about their “morning routine” or “10 habits that changed my life” stuff?
Well, a couple years ago, I tried that.
Then last year I tried it again.
Then this year in 2020 I tried it again.
Now next year, 2021 – I’m gonna try it again.
I attempted to start plenty of new daily habits over the past three years (too many at once, of course), and failed to lock any of them in on a daily basis. I did have some luck with a small little chain of habits tho:
- Vacuum (Roomba)
I was tracking them for a while, on and off, in an app on my phone for a couple years. And while I never locked any of them in 100%, I could look back over the months and see how I was doing each of these more and more every month.
So even though it didn’t FEEL like it was working…the data showed that IT WAS WORKING.
But then, idk.
2020 just kinda threw me for a loop.
I was so frustrated with work (freelance writing, blogging, etc), that I kinda rage-quit all my habits stuff and tried to give all my attention and energy to writing. But that still didn’t accomplish anything, and I ended the year failing at both writing AND habit building.
BUT…silver lining, folks…I’m just gonna turn that frown upside down.
I feel like I laid some groundwork for these habits and will be able to progress on them more easily in 2021.
It’s almost like muscle memory. You can quit lifting weights for a while and lose some strength, but then you pick it back up and get back to where you left off pretty quickly. So you’re not REALLY starting over from scratch.
At least, I think it’ll work out that way.
We’ll see if I’m right in 2021.
Okay, so that’s my 2020 year in review.
Sure, lots of things didn’t go how I wanted. But you can always find something good in every situation, if you’re determined to look for it – or at least when you’re determined to make it into something good.
And that’s not just fluffy positivity crap – that’s real.
Always remember, kids…when life hands you a dumpster fire – roast marshmallows.
So tell me about your year.
What good things happened for you in 2020 and what good things are you working on in 2021?
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