I'm not a fan of retrospectives, but it's mostly because I'm afraid of being unimpressed with what I've achieved, or failing to remember what I've done. It's a weird kind of impostor syndrome I have with myself, which is doubly-stupid.
That being said, 2020 has been one hell of a year, a rollercoaster for both me and my co-founder — and I feel like it's been one of the years that changed me the most.
In fact, I've never spent as much time thinking and reading (for obvious reasons) as I did this year. This is an overused quote but it's so relevant here: All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. Well, this year I've spent a lot of time sitting quietly in a room, so that game me a lot of time for reflection and introspection.
Looking back at my personal notes, I've tried to collect some of my learnings and thoughts, things that this weird and unsettling year has helped me understand. This is in fact also the year I've finally taken journaling more seriously (also thanks to Roam Research), and this had a huge impact on my self-awareness and personal growth.
Here are 20 thoughts and learnings from 2020, in no particular order:
- Improving my daily habits and routines has a much bigger impact on my personal (physical and mental) wellbeing than making broader, more complex life changes that don't always make me grow in meaningful ways.
- "Hell yes or no" is a good mantra to apply to almost everything. Every "maybe in the future" and "I'm not sure" fills me with anxiety and regret, even if it's not always obvious.
- Walk every day, or run, or work out. There shouldn't be a single day where there's not at least some movement and fresh air. My life and mental health changed deeply after I've started doing this.
- If you're not finding the time for some things, it doesn't really matter and I shouldn't make long lists of things to do in the future. Embrace what you're doing now, and don't over-rely on planning. Also, change plans often, according to your current priorities.
- 99.9% of the time, anxiety is not something that kills you or hurts your physically, so you can ignore it. Acknowledge anxiety like an unwelcome guest, then move on with your day. It's not always easy, but it works.
- Radical honesty makes your life much easier, up to a point. You need to have the sensibility in some rare instances to keep a thought to yourself, but it's an exception, not the rule.
- I'm having more fun by trying new things the moment I want to. Example: I thought that skating would be cool so I ordered a skateboard that very moment, and had fun for months. Broke my wrist afterward, but it was 100% worth it.
- Embrace being a "lost teen" who doesn't take himself too seriously, and who's still figuring out what I want to be.
- You don't need to smile in photos, you don't need to say anything in particular to anyone in any occasion. Actually, remove "should" from your vocabulary.
- Remote and non-remote work are not two antithetical things, but they complement each other and each individual has an ideal balance between the two (mine is around 40% / 60%).
- Uncompromising perfectionism is not something to be ashamed of. It often pays off in the medium/long term and it's the trademark in most things I do. It doesn't work for most companies or founders, but everyone has a way of doing things, and this is mine. I just have to understand when it's time to stop, especially when the sunk-cost fallacy makes me keep working on something too long.
- Authenticity always wins. Most people have a good bullshit-detector, so instead of thinking "How can I grab people's attention?" is better to think "How can I be genuinely interesting and useful?". People that are very good at looking authentic and genuine win people's affection and interest.
- It's easier and more useful to understand than to judge.
- Reading is nourishment for the mind. Meditation is fasting. Feeds are junk food.
- We'll always crave good stories to find meaning among the chaos, especially in the age of the death of truth.
- The more you are ok with not doing anything at all, the most likely you are to be truly at peace.
- Therapy is no substitute for embracing who you are.
- The ability to comprehend and de-escalate situations of anxiety, panic, or conflict is a superpower.
- Nobody is ok, nobody has figured it out. We're all just trying. Embrace chaos and uncertainty.
- Never be afraid to write or say what you think. Haters are going to hate, the occasional flame will always begin, but if you're true to yourself you have nothing to fear.
- Bonus: HODL.