A Look Back on Year 2020
What a year 2020 has been. There were lots of ups and downs, but ultimately, there were many things to be grateful for. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about some positive things in me such as re-shaping the way I think about work, sharpened my investing acumen, spurred me to write more for Finance and Toast, and also treasure the increased time spent at home. I had one of my best years in my career (in terms of achievement), but somehow, I felt that there was something lacking.
I note that many bloggers write reviews / reflections based on categories such as finances, health, family, hobbies etc, but I try to do things a little different by reflecting on specific months of 2020 which had made a defining moment in my personal growth, career, finances and health.
Below sums up the year 2020 for me.
For the first time in my life, I went to South Korea for a work trip. Together with my boss, I met with the world’s third-largest pension fund to discuss potential collaboration on real estate opportunities. It was an eye-opener for me, as there were a lot of customs to take note of eg shaking hands, walking behind your boss / senior, and even giving of gifts. It was a good start to the year, but never did I know that a pandemic was looming. I guess I had it lucky as I liquidated almost 80% of my holdings in equities at that point in time and shifted funds to a safer, low volatility fund, managed by my company.
Source: Finance and Toast. View from my hotel in Korea. Don’t be fooled by the clear skies. It was -7 to -10 degrees at that time.
In February when the pandemic has just started to hit many major cities, I went for my 3rd work trip to Japan, which coincidentally happened to be my last trip for this year. It felt very odd. Life, seems to have changed significantly. People were scrambling for masks. Even though there were numerous posters of the Olympic Games, people didn’t seem to care about that.
Source: Finance and Toast. View from my hotel in Japan.
Mar 2020 – May 2020
Global equity markets fell and some of my remaining stocks plunged in value, which I panicked to sell once it recovered slightly. The circuit breaker also gave me time to think about income and expenses.
This period was possibly the toughest months of my career so far. I was working on a live sales deal with the third-largest pension fund and was working on numerous weekends consecutively. The ridiculous hours and immense pressure from my boss left me feeling drained and exhausted. I felt a burnout creeping.
I also questioned the purpose of what I want out of a career as I felt that such hours and stress are not sustainable. I hadn’t had any clarity then.
With work from home at that time, it also meant I had to carve out time to do things that I enjoy. I set up a new website called Watch Care SG (www.watchcare.sg), where I listed some of the useful products for watch lovers who enjoy taking care of their timepieces. Though this will never replace my full-time job, it taught me things like sourcing, marketing, logistics etc.
Source: Watch Care SG
With all the heavy lifting for the sales deal done in the past 3 months, I felt that things were improving slightly and that there was light at the end of the tunnel. However, I felt that my health took a toll. I became more sedentary and got lazy to exercise.
Finally, the sales deal that I was working on was finally closed. It was the largest sales deal that I worked on together with my boss in my career, and it required a lot of creativity, persistence, and determination in an era where communication were all done virtually. I felt relieved but strangely, I didn’t feel too happy. Maybe it was because the workload and stress was too unbearable.
But I took time for self-improvement and given that most courses were shifted to online, I signed up for a Real Estate course to improve my knowledge. It was still one of my best decisions for this year, and it increased my interest in real estate.
Oct 2020 – Nov 2020
During this period, I did a charity event together with a few close colleagues and it was a meaningful one. It was something different from the usual charity events such as distributing food to the elderly, helping foreign workers etc. Ours partnered with an organization that focused on enhancing the bond of students with their family members and it allowed us to take the role of a director, producer, cinematographer, editor and scriptwriter where ultimately, we had to create a short video for the said beneficiary. This was something I felt worth my time and effort outside of my day-to-day work responsibilities.
I also signed up for the November Real Estate Salesperson exam and oh boy, it was tough. Questions were lengthy and tricky, and there were lots of content to memorize.
Separately, I was also promoted at my workplace. Most would feel happy after a promotion but surprisingly, I was not overly elated. That, would be a story for another day.
As I look back on this year, I am happy for a few things namely 1. writing more posts on Finance and Toast, 2. did pretty well on my finances (saved more than ever this year), and 3. bought a mini home gym!
What are the main highlights and lowlights of your year? Share with us in the comments box below.
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