Reflecting on 2020
I am writing this post on new years day of 2021. I've spent new years eve at home with a couple of friends eating raclette and enjoying some wine and whiskey. All outside restaurants and clubs were closed due to the pandemic restrictions.
Nobody could have predicted the way that 2020 has turned out. The year will be remembered forever as the year of the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has affected anyone on earth differently. I am grateful that the worst thing that happened to me was that I had to cancel all my travel plans for the year. I did not even leave the country once. I am grateful that I still was able to work from home and have financial security.
In the following sections, I'm reflecting on the year through the four pillars of the good life; Health, Wealth, Love, and Happiness. It is my goal to build and improve each pillar to have a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Being healthy during a year where there is a pandemic has proven out to be very important. Regular exercise and eating healthy has already been one of my core habits for the past years. Going to the gym has been an integral part of my workday. In March, the government ordered a shutdown of all gyms to prevent the spread of the virus. This was not ideal for my routine and keeping my physical fitness. I pivoted to work out at home, mainly using kettlebells. I developed shorter workout routines that are more endurance and muscle pump based with higher repetitions. Keeping strength without the necessary equipment like squat racks or a bench is practically impossible. At first, this was a huge demotivating factor, but I've accepted it knowing that I can always regain the lost strength, and furthermore, nobody actually cares about your strength as long as you look healthy and fit. After the gyms opened up again, it was tough to get back into my old workout routines, and right after I was getting close to my usual level, the gyms were closed again at the end of the year and are still closed as of now.
The whole mask situation was also a new change for me and everyone else not living in Asia. At first, it felt very strange walking around with a mask on in supermarkets and public transportations, and ultimately, it was even mandatory in the gyms. I've worn a mask so many times now that it almost feels more normal to wear a mask in public transportation than not to wear one. Humans are so adaptable. But I hope that after the pandemic is over, we can go back to walking around without masks to see each other's faces and smile at each other.
Luckily, I did not catch coronavirus. I am confident that I would have gotten over the virus, but I am also certain that it could have intensely affected me for a couple of weeks during the sickness. My sister did get it and reported a strong feeling of illness and complete loss of her sense of smell.
What caused me the most trouble healthwise was my ongoing issue with my sinuses. I've had nose surgery done a couple of years ago to widen my nasal passages to avoid getting constant sinus infections. Sadly this only helped a bit. The infections kept re-occurring often but less severely. I've had tried many things to try to avoid getting sinus infections. This year I've tried acupuncture and had over 20 sessions. While the sessions were very relaxing, my condition did not improve at all. I concluded that acupuncture is not working for me. After taking a short course of antibiotics to clear an infection that persisted over multiple weeks, I've consulted with a new doctor that prescribed me a new nasal spray that contains cortisone. I've been using this spray for over a month, and it seems to help with the swelling of my nasal passages and thus avoids infections. I am hopeful that this nasal spray will be a long term solution to my problem.
I am still doing mindfulness meditation. I have to admit that I did not manage to keep it as a daily habit. But I am still using it consistently after a long day of mentally demanding work to calm down my body and nervous system.
This year has been great for my financial situation. While I was still able to work full time and earn my income, I also grew my net worth by investing and working on my own business. With the much-restricted spending outside of essentials like food during the year, I saved and invested more money than ever.
I've worked incredibly hard on my own business while working full time at my job. I've worked at least 8 hours every Sunday for the entire year. By looking at my time tracking tool, I haven't missed a single one. On top, I've worked at least two nights every week, adding up to another 8 hours, resulting in consistent 60+ hour work weeks. I also have not taken any full vacation weeks. Instead, I've taken every Monday off for two months during summer, resulting in two weeks of vacation time. During those Mondays, I mainly spent time working on my own business and some recharging in the sun. At the beginning of the year, my goal was to achieve a recurring revenue stream of 1k a month. I've managed to achieve my goal and exceed it by the end of the year. I strive that my own business will be a significant part of my wealth contribution in the future.
This is the first time that I've started investing in the stock market. The stock market crashed in the first lockdown months in March. Luckily I was not yet invested, so I had the perfect opportunity to start investing after the crash. I started investing conservatively after a couple of weeks into the crash while the market started recovering. Nobody could have predicted that the recovery would be so fast and that the market would grow to new record highs.
I've learned a lot about stocks. Individual stock picking is very hard. You can try to use traditional valuation techniques to value the company based on different ratios like the P/E(Price-Earning) ratio. But by using this technique, almost all growth stocks would be overvalued, and you would miss out on most of the upside. I've lost some money on bad stock picks but largely made money on my stock picks. A major factor of my success is directly related to the current bull market conditions.
My current stock investing strategy consists of only buying technology companies of which I understand their business model, I believe in their future success in their market segment, and ideally I am a customer of.
All additional capital I will be investing in ETFs and alternative assets like bitcoin.
Bitcoin had its best year ever, closing at a new all-time high of over 28k. I've had used bitcoin in the past but sold it before the first big bull run in 2018 where it reached its high of 19k. I remember buying bitcoin when a single coin was valued at around 300$. After the last bull run, I decided that I do not want to miss the next chance of it growing even higher. This year I've started to buy bitcoin consistently at the end of the month. It turned out to be a great decision. I do not plan to sell my bitcoin holdings anytime soon and continue to buy bitcoin with a dollar-cost average strategy. I try to allocate a % of my net worth in bitcoin that I can handle losing half or even all of it. The potential upside is big enough to justify this risk for me.
I started the year optimistic that I will find new opportunities to build new relationships and maybe find love. I can confidently say that I did not neglect my search. I've made my best effort to talk to new people that seemed interesting and introduced myself wherever I saw an opportunity. My optimism started to fade later in the year with all the bars getting closed or changed to be socially distanced, which pretty much removed any chances of meeting someone. Additionally, with the mask wearing, it's even more difficult in social situations.
My happiness during the year has undergone ups and downs. By working most of the time with no opportunities to go to an event or travel to get a change in scenery, my happiness started to suffer. It was my first full year of living alone. I sometimes felt lonely, but I concluded again that I really enjoy spending time by myself and prefer it vastly over spending my time with someone who is not a good fit. I am still very grateful to have some awesome friends that I can meet with and talk. Especially this one friend that spoke with me on facetime a lot during the lockdowns. If you read this, you are amazing.
Overall, I am still considering myself to be a happy person because I am just so optimistic about my own life and the future. I am looking forward to traveling again when it's possible and practical. For me, the masks have to go before I consider traveling by myself. Otherwise, I feel isolated from everyone wearing a mask somewhere in a foreign country.