I know many people are cursing 2020 and are glad that it's over, but the older I get the more I realize that any time is good time, and that what we do with what we're given is more important than what we are given. So I'll just come out and say it: 2020 was an amazing year, and while it was obviously significantly worse in many ways, it was still overall the best year of my life.
Last year I wrote that it felt like such a dense year, with almost every day being packed and accounted for. This year was mostly the opposite, with long stretches of empty time with not only nothing to do, but very little I could do.
While I wouldn't want every year to be this way, it was really refreshing to have such a big change and to take on the challenge of adapting to it.
As usual, here are the highlights of my year:
My very first "business" was buying and selling used Palm Pilots and Apple Newtons. I would negotiate back and forth over the smallest increments of money, both on the buying and selling side. When I first started, my inventory was one Apple Newton, so it was important that I get the best price possible.
After making a little bit of money buying and selling these things I had some savings and could start buying things for myself. As you might imagine, I used the same principles in buying those things and still tried to save the most amount of money possible.
I started all this in high school and college, and a lot of my peers were frugal, though often in different ways. I noticed that most frugal people care about absolute price rather than value, whereas I only ever cared about value.
As I grew up, though, I noticed that most of my peers stopped being frugal entirely. Frugality was a response to not having enough money, not to wanting money to buy them more utility. Once they had enough money to buy things, the frugality switch turned off.
I like writing about things that I used to be terrible at but am now good at, because I can be sure that those things could be learned by anyone. In the past I was unable to stick to anything. I went through various phases of convincing myself it didn't matter and accepting that I would probably never be able to stick to anything because it wasn't "who I am".
In particular I had a very tough time sticking with projects. I would start one project, get bored or frustrated or distracted, and switch to a different one. I was only able to change my behavior when I had a few key realizations:
1. If you always switch projects, you will never finish a project, and thus never receive the rewards of that project. This is incredibly obvious, but never comes to mind when we're thinking about giving up on a project. This doesn't mean that it's always best to stick with every project, but it does mean that you have to have some ability to finish a project.
2. When I want to quit a project, it's usually because I've experienced most of the downsides and none of the upsides. If I'm halfway through a programming project I've done a lot of work, have probably experienced a bunch of frustration, still have some outstanding issues to deal with, and haven't made a single customer happy or received a single penny. It's important to recognize that this is exactly the wrong position from which you should make a decision.