2020 goals in review

If ever there was a year when I’m glad I made no hard and fast year-long goals, it was this year. I didn’t really set any big 2020 goals, and instead focused on a guiding word and then made smaller monthly goals instead.

I don’t want to dwell on the darker moments of 2020, although, as with pretty much everyone around the world, there were many of those.

Instead I want to look back at the intentions I set at the start of the year, and see how far they have come along.

My guiding word for this year was Space.

Physical space

In the spring of 2019, I made the decision that my relationship could not continue. But by the end of last year, I was feeling frustrated and stuck, because despite my best efforts, I was still living in my old house in a very toxic situation.

Basically, my ex-husband wouldn’t leave, countering that this situation was temporary and I would get over it, so it was a waste of money he didn’t have, and I could not afford to rent somewhere in our neighbourhood that would fit me, the kids, and our amazing au pair.

Then my parents came to my rescue, which I am eternally grateful for. They owned a rental home whose tenant had just given notice, so they decided to sell it and buy a house in my neighbourhood which I would rent (for the same amout they had been earning) from them. But buying and selling is never straightforward, and the whole situation was still up in the air at the end of the year.

If this help hadn’t been available, I had an alternate plan, but it meant moving out of London, away from the kids’ school, my parents, and the support network I’ve built up over the last 17 years of living here. And I had some ideas of where I would move to, but I hadn’t actually spent proper time there – I didn’t feel I could just up sticks and move somewhere completely different. Either way, it was not going to be an immediate solution.

Meanwhile, I was paying the full mortgage on our old house, but not putting any effort into living there. It was like I had mentally moved out, and even though the dust and mess and things that needed replacing or fixing were making me even more miserable, I couldn’t bear to change any of it, because it meant I was investing time into somewhere I didn’t want to be.

So when I chose Space as my word for the year, that’s really what I was thinking of. I hated my physical space. I didn’t want to be there, I wanted desperately to be living somewhere else, but if I was going to be there, I needed to respect it more.

And I did! I bought new curtains for the bedroom. I started decluttering and going through my clothes. I hired a cleaner (briefly). I still didn’t want to be there, but it was more pleasant after those changes, for sure.

And then I got to move at the beginning of March, and the word took on a whole new life. Because, of course, in March, the world shut down around us, and my home was where I spent every hour of every day. To this day, the number two thing I am most grateful for this year (after the health of my friends and family) is that I got to move out before we weren’t allowed out anymore.

Financial space

Toward the end of 2019, I set up different ‘spaces’ in my Starling account for different types of spending. If you don’t already have these set up, I highly, highly recommend doing so.

The spaces I have set up are:

  • Taxes
  • Salary and personal expenses (like rent and bills)
  • Pension
  • Kids savings
  • Business expenses
  • Donations (this is a round up account, so every time I spend money, this space is topped up, then I donate whatever is in there at the end of each month)
  • Christmas gifts
  • Fun money
  • Profit (this is a tiny percentage and is currently building up to allow me to afford a new sofa)

This might seem like a lot of different areas, but every time I get paid, or at a set time each month, a % of my income goes into each pot. It means that my money is all allocated, and I know how much I have available to me in each area.

The fun money one in particular has been transformational because I really struggle to spend money on myself. Kids, no problem. Business expenses, sure. But something just for me? That’s really hard. Having that pot there means that if I want to spend money on new clothes or get a takeaway or go out with friends (one day), the money is there and I don’t feel bad about spending it. That’s what it’s there for.

I spent a good chunk of my ‘business expenses’ money this year working on my money mindset. Thinking about WHY I find it so hard to spend money on myself and how I can take some of the weight off money and enable myself to earn more as a result.

What I didn’t think about, which is something I’m really focused on for next year, is a buffer. This is a story for another day, but for various reasons, the financial buffer I had 3 years ago has been well and truly worn through by the time I actually went freelance. I need to build that back up again.

Another space to add to my account!

Mental space

2020 was interesting for my mental space.

On the whole I think I was pretty good at prioritising myself this year. Far better than I ever have been in the past. I took the long baths. I had a couple of massages. I read loads. I exercised. I went on long walks.

I DID overbook myself with work a couple of times, but I caught it early both times and was able to get through it without losing the plot.

But then, of course, there was a lot more stuff going on.

Leaving the family home and leaving a family member behind is a pretty crappy thing to go through as grown up, let alone as a child, so I had some big feelings from my kids to deal with.

Separating your life from someone else comes along with seemingly endless admin, on top of the mental weight of the actual act of doing it.

Working for yourself alongside working in house brings along a lot of juggling, even at the best of times.

OH and the kids were at home for half of the year, I couldn’t see my parents, who live four miles away, for months. AND on a more macro level there was that whole global pandemic thing and the Black Lives Matter movement and the impending Brexit crisis and the months where I was convinced that Trump would win (and then, when he lost, that he would force a stay in office).

All in all, my brain was not a spacious place this year. But the prioritising myself thing was good. More of that to come. Also, some therapy.

What next?

I have genuinely no idea of what is to come in 2021. I have lots of plans on paper, which I’ll talk more about next year, but the thing that has really stuck with me from this year is just how uncertain the future really is. We can plan all we want, but the universe has different ideas.

I have an idea for my word of the year, which I’ll talk about in my newsletter in January. But the year ahead looks very blurry right now.

How was your year, from a ‘ 2020 goals’ perspective? Did you end up having lots more time to make things happen? Or did you end up shelving most of the things you wanted to do? Did you find new things to take their place, or do you feel like life was on hold? I would love to hear from you, either in the comments or on Instagram.

Also: If you know anyone who has written a yearly wrap-up blog post, will you send it to me? I debated a lot on whether to write this post this year or not, but I love reading them so much I decided to do it after all.

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2020 in review


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