2020 Year in Review
Wow… 2020. It’s certainly a year that has been seared into our collective memories and that will be studied for decades to come. Here’s a look on how 2020 went for me personally.
1. What went well?
I felt fulfilled
For most of my life, I’ve had a checklist in the back of my mind of award lists (Intel Science Competition, Forbes 30 Under 30, etc.) and their application deadlines. In 2020, I forgot all about these. I was too busy running my company, working with our amazing team, and shipping new products. In short, I was too busy feeling fulfilled to think about external recognition to validate that I should feel fulfilled1. And that was one of the big wins of 2020.
I found an exercise routine that I love and can do on my own time
It took a global pandemic to finally push me to buy a health supplement and find a workout routine that can help me lose weight.
I grew up going to dance classes and then eventually group exercises classes (like yoga, HIIT, Orange Theory, etc.). I tried brief stints of running or doing my own strength training at the gym, but these stints were never enjoyable and always short lived. I like being told what to do when I exercise.
The problem with group classes is that they are lengthy (at least 45 min plus travel time) and (often) exhausting. I could not understand how friends were more refreshed and motivated after doing exercise. I was usually toast after going to Orange Theory, so I just didn’t go all that often.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and I could no longer go to in-person classes. A friend recommended the exercise app “Down Dog” (for HIIT, yoga, barre, pilates, and meditation) and I fell in love with it.
I love “Down Dog” because I pick the length of the workout (anywhere from 5min to 90min), the focus (e.g. core, cardio, hip flexor stretches, etc.), and then the app generates a perfect workout fitting those requirements. I get bored easily and hate doing the same workout twice, so Down Dog is great because it generates a new workout routine each time even if I pick the same requirements.
Now I can do 15 minutes of HIIT in my backyard, get an injection of endorphins, and then be back to work – refreshed and re-motivated – within 30 minutes.
At the end of 2020, I also started going to ballet classes (thank you Courtney Liu for your zoom #GarageBallet!) which I haven’t gone to in over 2 years. It feels amazing to be “ballet sore” again.
Because of all this, I did nearly 2x more workouts in 2020 (96 days) than in 2019 (56 days). Plus, I was able to do all of my workouts outdoors (and get that additional endorphin boost from the California sunshine ☀️), which is something I was never able to do before with group fitness studios.
I read more, wrote more, and talked to both my parents and non-Bay Area friends more
I published 5 pieces of content in 2020 (compared to 0 in 2019):
- Year in Review 2019
- How I Track My Habits and Achieve My Goals
- How the US Surgeon General Build Strong Teams
- Predicting Someone’s Movements Before They Move, and
- 30 Lessons I’ve Learned in 30 Years
I read 14 books this year (compared to only 1 book in 2019). I particularly enjoyed “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss.
I started tracking the time I spent with my parents back in 2018 and the trend has been getting better and better every year. This year, I had 53 phone conversations with my parents (compared to 26 in 2019) where we talked for 31 hours (compared to only 20 hours in 2019).
I talked to my non-Bay Area friends 2.5x more this year than in 2019. This was definitely one of the benefits of the pandemic for me.
2. What didn’t go well?
When I was putting together the “2020 in Numbers” summary, I was convinced that I was less social this year than last year. I was shocked to see that, in reality, I saw friends just as often, albeit remotely, in 2020 as in 2019 (120 days vs 119 days).
In many ways, 2020 feels like a blur. I have fewer memories to anchor on to because memories on the computer screen don’t serve as strong markers of time. Although I “saw” a bunch of friends, I have no idea whether I saw someone in April or October. They were both just in front of the same computer screen in the same living room.
One of my 2021 goals is to figure out how to make more memories this year and not just let life pass me by. If anyone has fulfilling virtual hangout ideas, please let me know.
3. What am I working towards?
A company brand
We built an incredible company in 2020. I am in awe of the people I get to work with every day and the fascinating problems we get to solve. However, we have not done a good job sharing with the world what we do. Our website at the moment is a not-very-informative landing page (www.edgeanalytics.io), and all but a few friends really understand what we are up to. This year, I want to build our external brand and online presence to reflect the caliber of the team and quality of our work.
Creating (more) things
I published 5 pieces of content last year. However, these articles mostly happened at the end of the year. In short, I was not consistent and I am not happy with my current level of content creation. I want to and know that I can create much more.
Delegating to free up time
I am proud of the company we have built, yet there is much more I want us to be doing. The answer is not for me to work harder but rather to delegate and put the right systems in place to free up my time. Administrative things for the company take up a lot of my time and mindshare. One of my goals this year is to hire a Head of Operations (or Chief of Staff). By the end of 2021 I would like to be at a place where I am mostly doing the things that only I can do (and am best at doing) for the company.
2020 in Numbers: Summary of the Things I Track2
|Parents||25 days in person with my mom
23 days in person with my dad
19 phone conversations (10hrs)
|34 days in person with my mom
14 days in person with my dad
26 phone conversations (20 hrs)
|16 days in person with my mom and dad
53 phone conversations (31 hrs)
Note: Started recording calls <20min
|Social||86 days of doing something with friends
~75 different friends
The friend I saw/talked to the most: 17 days, second most: 7 days
|119 days of doing something with friends
~125 different friends
The friend I saw/talked to the most: 24 days, second most: 19 days
|120 days of doing something with friends
~ 90 different friends
The friends I saw the most: 23 days. Non-family friend: 15 days
|Exercise||44 days (top types of exercise were yoga: 21, lifting: 14, cycling: 10)||56 days (top types of exercise were yoga: 34, running: 8)
Approx. 57 hrs of exercise
|96 days (52 yoga workouts, 39 HIIT workouts, 6 ballet classes)
44.5 hrs of exercise
|German||Didn’t do||45 Pimsleur classes||
36 days of Pimsleur
|Arts (music, dance, theatre)||Didn’t track, but very few||8||
International: 0 days
14 days in Texas (stay with family)
9 days in Massachusetts (finally moved out)
4 days in Florida
3 days in Nevada
18 days in different cities in CA
|Tomatoes||2,682 tomatoes of PhD work||45 tomatoes (22.5hrs) of online courses||34 tomatoes (17 hrs) of online courses|
(The Tomato Method, Cycling in the Alps Vlog, MIT Image Awards Vlog, Bad Idea #134, Lack of Feedback Loops in Medicine, But People Will Never Forget)
1 I wrote a post with a similar sentiment during my time in India; it talks about enjoying the moment rather than always blogging about it: https://linacolucci.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/half-the-fun/
2 I wrote a blog post about my system for tracking habits and creating these summary tables.