My 2020 in Review

January 01, 2021

This was an interesting year, to say the least. I think it’s safe to say there’s a lot that didn’t go as planned - this was true in the world and in my personal life as well.

If you know me, you know I’m big on setting goals. With that in mind, I thought I’d write up a review to take stock of how I did as well as give my general thoughts from the year on what went well, what didn’t, and what I learned.

I’ve also spent some time thinking about my favorite things from the year: books, podcasts, etc., and I’ve listed those as well. I’ll probably do a separate post on my 2021 goals, but suffice to say there are much fewer of them and I’m focusing more on the how rather than the what.

The Goals

  • Completed: Launch this site, weigh 150lbs, get cholesterol into normal range, make first dollar on the internet, launch legitimate product

  • Failed: Work-specific goals, play 1 match/wk in summer and fall tennis ladders, get back to fluent in Spanish and read the greats, learn UI design, launch on Product Hunt, learn algorithms and data structures, make 40 YouTube videos

  • Abandoned (due to pandemic): Grow grass, see Mom and Dad 4 times, rent out our house in summer, try the euphonium, try karate

The Good

Invested in Technology

I bought a new laptop in January that enabled a lot of creation during the rest of the year. I also bought an iPad during the pandemic, which hasn’t yielded as much creativity or content, but I’m hopeful for the new year.

Launched My First Product

This was a big one. I’ve been tired of talking about launching products but never actually shipping, so I took part in the 14 Day Product Challenge that Gumroad put on, and managed to get an ebook out the door that a few people have even bought. This felt like a significant step in the right direction.

Made My First Dollar Online

This was a big goal and made the year go from feeling so-so on the goal front to pretty good. Many folks I follow point to this as a life-changing moment, and I’ve got to say it is pretty awesome. Hope to continue this trend in the new year.

Spent Time in Reflection

One result of the pandemic was that I had more time to myself. I spend a lot more time in my own thoughts, which is saying something because I tend to do a lot of that already. I’m not sure it necessarily yielded any amazing insights, but I enjoyed it for the most part.

Started a Newsletter

Somewhat out of boredom, I started a newlsetter after seeing the Substack hype. It’s been fun, and has been one of the most consistent things I’ve done this year. If nothing else, it’s a nice little repository for looking back and seeing what was on my mind at a particular time. I’m migrating from Substack to Convertkit so that I can own more of the content, but Substack was a great place to start. I’m looking forward to continuing to write on Sundays in the new year.


It was a big year of growth in terms of my creative and technology skills. At work, I spent more time doing API development than I ever have and learned a bunch. Outside of work, I started a newsletter, launched this site, edited and published 21 YouTube videos, took a bunch of courses, launched an info product, and worked on getting my Spanish back. I also read significantly more than usual thanks to audiobooks.

Managed to Travel Safely

We managed to make a few important trips this year, despite the pandemic. Namely, my sister’s wedding in Maine and Christmas with my in-laws in Kentucky. We also took a trip to Richmond in August which was possibly not advisable but a good chance to practice expanding the comfort zone while being somewhat safe.

The Bad

Too Much Time Thinking, Not Enough Doing

I spent too much time thinking about what I wanted the future to look like instead of making it happen. I think one of the best things I can develop is a bias towards action, especially when it comes to learning new skills - I tend to get stuck in learning mode because it’s comfortable for me. In 2021, I want more doing.

Mixed Goal Results

I didn’t understand the difference between desires and goals, and as a result I had some things on my list that would have been nice to do but weren’t pressing, so they didn’t get done. As a result, I’m whittling down this year’s list to must-haves.

Lack of Focus

At the beginning of the year, I abandoned the business idea I’d been working on and didn’t make progress on anything else because I didn’t have a real vision. I toyed with domain prospecting, audience building, and a bunch of other things I can’t even remember. My goal for the coming year is to make consistent progress on one idea.

The Favorites


Shoe Dog

The Boys in the Boat


My First Million


Murder on Middle Beach

True Detective

Don’t F**K With Cats


Colin and Samir

Johnny Harris




The Takeaways

Systems Over Goals

I spent a lot of time looking at my goals board in Notion, and a lot less time thinking about how to actually accommpish them. I’m focusing on the system over the goal this year.

Everything is Figure-outable

This was a nice idea from Ali Abdaal. He says it’s a significant thing that learning to code teaches you, and I tend to agree. I’m trying to apply this mindset to other areas of life.

Focus on Throwing

Along with my first point, this is a supporting idea from Seth Godin. He’s taught tons of people to juggle, and it turns out that when you focus on throwing, the catching takes care of itself. Journey > Destination. Habit > Goal. Process > Outcome.

By the Numbers

2020 Stats:

  • Age: 28 (+3.7%)
  • Customers: 5
  • MRR: $2.17
  • Articles: 9 (including book reviews)
  • YouTube Subscribers: 319 (+279.7%)
  • Twitter Followers: 117
  • Email Subscribers: 21
  • Products: 1
  • Businesses: 0

I hope you found this article helpful! Hit me on Twitter @peterelbaum to share your thoughts and subscribe for more articles like this.