How is it July already? With everything that has happened in 2020, some days for me passed excruciatingly slowly while the months seemed to have sped by.
I had planned to write quarterly reviews – to check in with my goals every 3 months and monitor my progress.
But … 2020 has not turned out to be a normal year, by any stretch of the imagination. My March and April can be summed up in the two posts I wrote –
So, here we are – at the mid year review, with 6 months of the year done and dusted!
Why bother doing a mid year review?
The coronavirus pandemic is far from over.
As I write this in our lockdown 2.0, we’ve had a record one day increase of 484 cases. There are also many healthcare and aged care workers in isolation, who have been in close contact with someone infected.
So there is still huge uncertainty going forward. There is a lot of anxiety at work and in the general population at large. Over the last few weeks at work, we’ve huddled around the TV or someone’s phone to listen to the Premier’s updates on daily numbers and what new measure we need to follow. We note if the press conference is later than the usual 11am, it means the numbers are bad.
Despite or maybe in spite of everything that has gone on, I do want to pause and reflect on the previous six months. Life is not guaranteed. And I want to make sure that I either still want to progress with my goals as stated in January or find new ones.
Because in short, my life still matters.
I may not be able to control how the pandemic affects our health or wealth. But I can control where and how I focus my time, energy and money.
And I want to look forward to a future with some hope.
Recap of 2020 Goals
I wrote in January about wanting to achieve 3 goals for the decade ahead. The goals are retiring at 55, visiting Antartica and running a marathon.
I wanted to embrace the process, not worry about the outcomes. If I put in place good habits every year, I will eventually end up achieving my decade goals.
I also wanted to go deep, not wide – in reference to not start anything new, – kind of failed here as I’ll explain later.
I wanted to lean in to 3 things every 3 months and not attempt to do everything at once. And once I’d built up the good habits, they will be carried through the following months. In my head, I had set up a schedule – but things are out of whack, to be honest.
For more detail, check out 2020 goals – with an eye on the decade ahead
I won’t comment on the progress with the decade goals (there is still nine and a half years to work on these!)
Let’s see how I did for 2020 goals:
(1) Exercise and stretch daily
This is a big fail!
I have not run at all. Full stop.
My friend and I started walking daily after work in February. Then she was on holidays and at first I walked by myself. But the coronavirus crisis hit in March – work was ultra stressful and I just wanted to go home to my couch.
We adopted a split shift system at work at the start of the first lockdown in mid March. There is no overlap between the morning and evening shifts. The morning shift ends at 5pm sharp; we all leave and the evening shift takes over. There is no intermingling between morning and evening teams, even outside of work hours. This is to ensure that if one team member is infected with COVID, we have another team ready to take over. And hopefully there is less disruption for our patients.
So while I was forced to finish work earlier and on time, neither my friend nor I had any desire to walk after work – we were so drained mentally that all we wanted to do was go home. Once I was home, the first thing I did was shower and change (to get rid of COVID). The shower signalled a time of relaxation and the last thing I wanted to do was to go out for a walk by myself.
The good news is that in the brief weeks between the end of lockdown 1.0 and lockdown 2.0, we started walking again. And have carried on walking now that we are in lockdown 2.0. Fingers crossed we will continue.
I usually share a personal training session with another friend. During lockdown 1.0, the in person sessions switched to Zoom online. This was terrible – I am not the most tech savvy person and trying to look at my phone screen while being very short sighted, trying to figure out what she wants me to do … let’s just say it was not a very satisfying or productive experience. So I cancelled most of these sessions. We are back to in person training outdoors in lockdown 2.0
My goal of exercising daily is to keep me healthy for longer but I really needed to reduce my cholesterol. I was due for a blood test in June but I have postponed this to the next six months as I try to improve my exercise routine. I’m pretty sure that with all this ‘start and stop’, my cholesterol is still high!
(2) Journal daily
I was consistently journaling daily in the morning at the beginning of the year until March – once again, I blame the ‘rona. My morning routine which took me a year to build was essentially shot to pieces. I was adjusting to starting work earlier but I could not get up any earlier. And I was not sleeping well – it was just a vicious cycle.
I was also under the false impression that it will all end soon – lockdown and split shifts. But it doesn’t look that way at all now. So I’ve accepted that life will continue like this for the foreseeable future. And am slowly starting up my morning routine again.
Since May, I have written every few days, with the longest stretch being a week. I’m ok with this ‘schedule’ – writing helps me clarify my thoughts so even 2 sentences is better than nothing.
(3) Read more
My goal was to read 20 books this year – DONE!
Reading is my favourite form of escape – escape from my real life into someone else’s world. For those few minutes or hours, I can live someone else’s life and not think about my crabby world.
I had downloaded the Libby app well before lockdown but never used it much as I wanted to read physical books (to reduce screen time). I also enjoy the physical browsing of books on shelves at the public library.
But lockdown happened – I couldn’t visit the library anymore so I learned how to use the app. It was a game changer. It made borrowing books a lot more accessible. Any time I was bored or couldn’t sleep, I would browse and put books on hold.
As a result, I read 33 books from January to June!
Even though my goal has been surpassed, I will continue to read.
(4) Be more sustainable
I wanted to work on reducing my water and gas consumption this year. It will reduce my environmental footprint as well as reduce recurring expenses.
I wrote about my strategies to reduce water usage here – How to reduce your water bill – by reducing your water usage
The good news is that my water usage has halved – simply by changing my shower head, reducing shower time to 4 minutes and collecting shower water to flush the toilet.
In January, I commissioned an Energy and Sustainability Assessment on my house, using the Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard. I will post more about this later in the year.
Two key recommendations were to improve the insulation in the ceiling and draught proof the house.
My goal was to have all this done by winter so my gas consumption would be reduced as my central heater uses gas. Unfortunately, this is still a work in progress. I managed to draught proof my doors but not my windows. And I am waiting for a quote to install ceiling insulation.
In the meantime, I did change to another plan with the same utility company, hopefully resulting in a lower cost for gas. But I anticipate that usage will increase this winter as compared to last year. I was travelling for 6 weeks during winter last year so wasn’t home to use the heater.
Reducing plastic use is ongoing. I started making my own cleaning products – so far laundry detergent and toilet cleaner so I am no longer buying these products in plastic bottles.
It is one thing to declutter and another to maintain it!
I have struggled with this for years.
So, this year I just wanted to build habits eg maintain a clutter free kitchen bench (which is essentially a dumping home for me!) and declutter one room upstairs.
My struggle has always been the ‘what if’ question. What if I need it later, after I’ve thrown it out, whatever ‘it’ may be. As a case in point, I rediscovered a slow cooker shoved in the back of the cupboard. I’d used it once, didn’t like the result and never used it again. I remember I used reward points to purchase it, probably 15 years ago. Anyway, I thought before I threw it out, I should try it again. And my beef stew turned out all right so now I’ll keep it! And will use it weekly … I hope.
So far, all I have done is maintain the kitchen bench as a clutter free area. Small win, haha!
(6) Financial goals
(a) Invest $25000 annually in shares portfolio
By the end of June, I’d invested $10000 in AFI (a listed investment company).
I should be on track to reach this goal by the end of the year. I was hoping I could increase it slightly but I don’t think it will be possible now – see below.
(b) Maintain salary sacrificing into superannuation until end of June then review
My plan was to review my super balance at the of June and hopefully, reduce salary sacrificing even though it is far more tax advantageous to salary sacrifice into super.
But I wanted to free up some money to invest outside of super for my bridge the gap fund ie the fund that I will need from 55 to 60, the five years before I can access my super.
Unfortunately, 2020 has not been kind. I was just over the half way mark at the end of November 2019 but it is now hovering around the half way mark again. So I have decided to continue salary sacrificing for the time being and assess again at the end of December.
(c) Aim for savings rate of 50%
Thanks to not travelling this year, my average savings rate for the first six months is 55%!!! Hopefully, this will continue for the rest of the year.
My grocery bill has increased these last 6 months, mainly due to comfort eating – I have bought more chips and ice cream. I must confess that there were days I’d come home from work, shower immediately then sit on the couch with chips, just staring into space before I can think of making or heating up dinner.
Plus I shopped for my parents during lockdown and did not bother to minus their portion. I just didn’t have the mental energy to work out how much one head of broccoli cost for them etc
My friend gave me her sourdough starter and the rest is history. So that is another reason why my grocery bills went up. I bought expensive flour from artisanal bakeries to feed my starter and make delicious bread in the middle of lockdown when flour at supermarkets was unavailable. Thankfully, flour is more readily available now, even in lockdown2.0.
I didn’t really want to start a new hobby this year – but baking and eating my homemade sourdough has been very good for my mental wellbeing so I’m ok with failing this.
My vegetable garden was not as productive over the last few months, mainly due to seedlings and seeds being sold out each time I made it to the nursery. And as a result, the seeds were a bit late getting into the ground. So I am buying more vegetables at the moment instead of harvesting my own. But the summer was good – had lots of zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Considering everything that has happened this year, I haven’t done too shabbily, I think. I am very thankful that I still have a job which has enabled my financial goals to be met.
I will focus on decluttering and improving my sustainability in the next 6 months. Oh, and exercise, mustn’t forget exercise!
While I want to update you with my progress in the next 3 months, don’t hold me to it!
How was your first six months of the year?