It’s only just reached the end of March, but it’s already evident that 2020 is a start to the decade that will go down in history – though not for positive reasons. I’m sure many of us were hopeful for the year ahead when it began, and it’s a shame that things already aren’t going well, but it is what it is.
Whilst this post is primarily intended as an update on my personal aims, and though I am not typically inclined to discuss current events, it’s entirely impossible to discuss how life has been going for me so far in 2020 without referencing events in the wider world. I think that’s one thing that unites us all at the moment. No matter who you are, coronavirus, the pandemic currently sweeping the globe, has likely touched your life somehow. This may be in relatively benign ways – such as by preventing you from enjoying days and nights out for some time – or, in more tragic ways.
For the majority of us, life goes on – even if it’ll look a little less normal for some time. In my case, despite finding myself working from home, my life looks pretty much as it did before coronavirus became the pandemic it now is – though I do now count in my head while I wash my hands, and I have a much emptier social calendar. As such, I’m still able to focus on trying to achieve the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.
Fitness and hobbies
I mentioned in my post at the beginning of the year, Looking Forward, potentially creating a star-based point system to motivate me to stay on top of my goals, relating to my writing ambitions and learning the guitar, and to encourage me to work out and eat better. I did that, decided on some rewards – days off to relax because that and sleep are all I ever really want – and so far, that’s working for me.
Though I don’t often take advantage of my accumulated rewards, I use them when I can, and I appreciate knowing that I have the opportunity to spend a day just chilling, guilt free, when I want/need to.
I have experienced a few stumbling blocks along the way. One of these was evidenced by my previous post about trying to encourage myself to keep picking up and practicing on my guitar. So far, the change of guitar is helping, and I’ve been hitting my goal of five practices per week (one up from my previous aim). Additionally, since writing that post, I’ve also changed up my routine and picked out a couple of focus areas to work on. The former has helped to keep me from getting bored, and the latter to help encourage progress.
Since I started working from home, which for me was not long before the UK lockdown, I’ve had to start pushing myself a bit more to keep at my goals and continue to use my time effectively. I still wake up at the same time as I did when I was having to commute to the office so I can find time to workout and fit in my hobbies during the day, outside of my work hours. It’s more difficult to motivate myself to write and read when I don’t have the boredom of a commute on the bus and train to overcome, but I’ve kept at it this long.
I definitely worry that I will eventually give in to the temptation to sleep in and let myself get lazy, just because I can. The best I think I can do it to keep going as I am, reassess what might need to change if my motivation does start to wane, and hope for the best. And, even if I do slip, I can hopefully pick myself up and get back to it.
Driving and buying a car
Two goals – resolutions – which I am dead set on achieving as soon as possible, are passing my driving test and buying a car. Given that – due to the coronavirus pandemic – tests have been postponed, and that I currently can’t leave the house to go look at potential cars, both goals are currently on hold. In the case of the former, it’s especially a shame. After my first driving test went not so well, I was getting to the point where I was really confident in my abilities and ready to go for it again. And now I’ll just have to wait.
Neither having a full license nor having a car are really urgent needs for me, especially now that there aren’t many places I am able to go – except maybe to the shops and back, and I manage that fine on foot. Once I go back to commuting to work, the option to drive may well be a good one to have, but I’ve managed public transport so far, and I can do it a little longer if needed. That said, I do still want both resolutions out of the way, just so they’re not hanging over my head anymore.
On the bright side, the current situation means that in addition to not being able to take my test or properly look for a car, I can’t go on driving lessons. So, at least I’m not losing money unnecessarily. Hopefully, when things go back to normal, I can pick up where I left off and achieve my driving and car goals before the end of the year. If not by the end of the year, then hopefully I at least get the latter done before my theory test pass expires.
Managing my finances
After scraping a success in my first month of budgeting, my second month went much more smoothly. I stayed within budget in pretty much all my expense categories, and where I didn’t, I was able to move money around to make it work. I ended up saving more money than my intended savings amount, and that’s something to be happy about.
I’ve moved into my third month of budgeting and saving now, and I’m set to save even more money this month because I’m not currently paying for the bus; train; any days, nights, or meals out; or, as I mentioned above, for driving lessons. Lucky me! There are, apparently, some benefits to being in lockdown.
However, though I’m excited to be saving a bit more money, I’m anxious about how to manage it. Whilst it would definitely help with some expenses I needed to save for – primarily the new headphones I’ve been wanting to buy – I’m reticent to use the money for non-essential expenses in the current climate. At the moment, I don’t think anyone really knows for sure when the pandemic will recede or how badly it will affect us all until it does, and the extra money feels like a comforting safety blanket for whatever might happen.
Then again, the way some people are acting seems to indicate that the currency of the future may well be toilet paper and hand sanitiser, so those saved pounds might not be of much use in the potential coronavirus apocalypse, at all. But here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.
For now, I plan to hold back as much money as I can. When things go back to normal, or as the situation develops, I’ll reassess that choice.
I had so much hope for 2020 when it began. After a relatively good 2019, as far as my personal goals and the development of my skills in my hobbies were concerned, 2020 represented an opportunity to do even better.
Moreover, 2020 also seemed to be a year that almost universally excited people. Trump was facing impeachment charges (a boon for non-Trump supporters), Brexit had yet to happen and could still potentially be avoided (something a lot of Brits hoped for), and overall, the beginning of the new decade represented new hope. Then, as coronavirus became an increasing cause for concern, the enthusiasm that had been associated with 2020 dissipated.
I honestly find it ironic that just as I’m coming to a place where I feel like I’m getting my personal life together, something happens to make the rest of the world start acting like all human life is going to come to a devastating end.
But, though I believe that many people are over-reacting, or at least reacting inappropriately, that is not to say that I don’t think that the pandemic is a serious cause for concern. The lockdowns are important to keep this virus – which we don’t yet have a vaccine for – in check, and people do need to be conscientious about their hygiene, and considerate of those who are vulnerable to this virus, or who are often in contact with those who are. However, people panicking, panic-buying, and worse yet, exploiting the circumstances to make a profit, are not what we need right now.
It is not as if humanity has never experienced pandemics, even deadly pandemics, before. So, what is to say we cannot make it through another one? People are getting sick, some are tragically dying, and the future appears uncertain for the moment. But, if you ask me, the correct response to that isn’t panic which may ultimately make things worse for people as a whole. We need prudent behaviour. Now more than ever we need to be calm, responsible, rational, and kind. And, maybe that’ll make these troubled times that much easier to get through.
Things are tough and scary right now, but at the end of the day, if people don’t respond in the best, most constructive ways possible, then it’s all of us who will ultimately suffer needlessly more for it. And, I don’t think that’s something anyone wants.
Thanks to Wandering Like Water for offering his input, and helping me get to this final edit.
And, thanks to you for reading this post. Don’t forget to leave any thoughts you have down in the comments.