I set my 2020 Goals before we went into lockdown, and they now seem quaint compared to what COVID, the George Floyd protests, California wildfires, and the 2020 US presidential election brought. However, these goals were the small progress I could make, so here’s how it went.
Eat Vegan for Lunch
It’s not actually hard to make vegan lunches: it’s only comparatively hard because it’s really easy to make a meat and cheese sandwich.
For sustainability reasons, I wanted to switch out my weekday packed sandwiches for something vegan. I started with vegan sandwiches, but hummus sandwiches quickly became unsatisfying. I also mixed in PB&J or PB & banana sandwiches, but they felt less substantial and nutritious than a “real” sandwich. I dabbled with others like chickpea salad but never found anything I really liked.
I also made salads. My favorites were a Chinese tofu salad with a sesame-soy dressing, a Southwestern salad with a chipotle-honey dressing, and a Harvest salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. All of them were delicious, but they took time to make. Again, it wasn’t a lot of work: the planning, roasting, and chopping was just more than a sandwich.
Then, I made fried rice fresh. Without eggs or meat, I added dried shiitake mushrooms and edamame beans for flavor and protein. Although it was fun and easy, fried rice without egg just wasn’t the same.
Soon after, I hit my low with an entire week of different vegan instant noodles. Julie noticed the low caloric and nutritional content and took it into her hands to find a few recipes for me. In particular, she found a delicious peanut butter and collard greens soup that I ate for a week.
Over the year, I have learned I can eat vegan for lunch, but it isn’t easy. It isn’t hard: it’s just doing meal prep on Sunday for the rest of the week.
Take Care of My Skin
My fingers are in the best shape in the last 20 years. After years of dry hands and picking my hangnails, I made two easy changes. First, I made it a habit to always moisturize after washing my hands.
Second, I realized that I picked at hangnails when I was fidgeting without a napkin or wrapper in my hands. To fix that, I got fidget toys. Now, when my hands are idle, I play around with this marble in a nylon sack. Between those two things, the skin around my nails have been able to grow back from my relentless picking.
For my face care, I took twenty minutes to read advice online about taking care of skin and had another set of simple changes.
The internet recommended regularly moisturizing, using sunscreen, and using a gentle cleanser. So, I switched in the evening from using bar soap (too harsh) in the shower on my face for Julie’s facial cleanser. Into my moisturizing routine, I use lotion after my shower and in the morning when I wake up.
The other part took some willpower: I stopped popping pimples. It is so cathartic, but everyone says it’s really bad. It did help that my skin was clearer based on the changes above.
Skincare wasn’t a complete success: I still have the dry patch on my foot. The dermatologist recommended a urea foot cream. However, that, the steroid cream, and a pumice stone, all failed to deal with it. Maybe it was too much to hope to fix 15 years of damage in a few months.
Get in Touch with Nature
I completely failed on this goal. I was hoping to get out more, but winter here is wet, and then COVID happened, then heat waves happened, then wildfire smoke happened, so I always had an excuse to stay in.
I tried to make small changes where I could to learn more about nature, but this goal requires a big life change towards being outdoors more, and that didn’t happen.
My Secret Fourth Goal
I only presented three goals at the beginning of the year, but I had a secret fourth goal: getting ready to be a parent. And as of the end of this year, Julie and I have become parents to a beautiful baby girl.
For me, “getting ready” meant reading pregnancy and parenting books. I did read, but not as many as I thought I would.
I stopped reading parents books after the first one because parenting is awhile away. Our baby isn’t even talking, so I can read up on dealing with arguments later.
I read three pregnancy books, but I only really needed to read one. Having a baby feels like a big scary undertaking, but fortunately for me, there aren’t many risks or decisions, and of those risks, they were pretty much addressed over the course of doctors appointments.
So for me, it would have been enough just to read Expecting Better to feel confident that I wasn’t going in blind.
Coming into this year, I had changed my orientation towards goals to be less projects and more things that can be addressed over the course of better habits because habits and routines encourage durable changes in my life.
Having just had a baby, though, my routines and priorities have both changed. I’m not sure where I will find regularity with a baby, but I’m sure there will be meaningful goals I can find for 2021.