Our journey to Financial Independence

2020 in the rear mirror
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2020 Retrospective: 10 Important Lessons

The time has come to say goodby to this awful year. Finishing the year with a retrospective is a great way to appreciate our growth. Yet at the same time… Saying the past year was tough is an understatement.

Like many, I was determined not to let 2020 go to waste. It would be easy to wallow and think that we wasted 365 days. Inaction is always the easy route. This year especially required creativity to grow and improve. 

On the other hand, despite all its flaws 2020 was an amazing learning opportunity from self-improvement to personal finance. Never has my life changed this much. This article is an opportunity for introspection and a window into my mind.

Embrace uncertainty

If I had to take 1 thing away it uncertainty is unavoidable. I always thought I could design my future. 2020 showed me you must make the most of the cards you are given. 

It was liberating as it taught me to be more laidback. I take things as they come and enjoy the moment.

Better late than never

Before 2020 my investment portfolio was all of £200. I had tiptoed into using a roboinvestor but it had never really stuck as a habit. That was until I discovered the power of compounding interest. 

When I realized that £500 per month for 20 years would be worth £312k with an interest gain of £173.7k. I became impatient and had to start that instant. If you want to get into investing check out my article on “Investing with Vanguard.”

It would’ve been easier to think why not wait an extra year? As I had already lost the first 2 years of my career. On the other hand, I could start today and reap bigger rewards. 

It was a no brainer

coins in front of a clock money is time
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Just start

As I grew up, I had a flawed idea – I believed in perfect timing. There was no point starting something if all the stars didn’t align. If I wanted to work out my body needed to be in top shape. 

Yet as I spent most of the year on furlough. I realized that appetite comes as we eat. The first minutes of exercise, writing, or cooking might feel dreadful. But as it goes on the result feels more rewarding and empowering. 

All I need to do is get going.

Define yourself

I grew up in a family of very hard-workers. Coupled with the societal belief that your work defines your identity. As I was sent home for the foreseeable future in March – I felt directionless. 

My goals and purpose had been solidly tied to my job and before that to my studies. For the first time, I had no given path. It left me with an empty feeling. Until my partner helped me wake up and showed me life had more to give. 

As 2020 went by I rediscovered what mattered to me and how I would build myself. This lead to Cent by Cent and countless memories!

Remain true to your values

values Strong like an oak
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My own mortality

I was always aware that I will die. Luckily, I’ve always been in good health. Never had the thought will this be my last breath crossed my mind before 2020. As I was struggling to breathe in March – the thought dawned on me. 

“I might not wake up tomorrow”

The hospitals were full… people were dying and the UK was in crisis. I was laying there wondering how I would draw air in. There were no regrets to be had but I was lost. The situation only truly became apparent as I looked into my partner’s eyes. She was sharing my pain. 

I have lived a life that leaves me with no regrets. Every decision has led me to where I am today and for that I’m thankful. Yet one thought kept ringing in my mind.

It’s too early I still have so much to do, see, and create.

Creativity is within us all

My talent for the arts is close to none. I can’t draw or paint and you most definitely do not want to hear me sing. On the other hand, I’ve always been drawn to art – the need to create was buried within. 

The game-changer was writing. As I started publishing on Medium I found my voice and strived to help people on their Personal Finance Journey. Do my early articles make me cringe? Undoubtedly but they are a sign of progress.

Unlimited

It was easy to think that I wasn’t:

  • Talented enough
  • Creative enough
  • Funny enough

2020 is the year I realized. I create my own limitations. It’s up to me to set my limits and break them. There is no limit to my personal growth. The only way I stop growing is when I stop learning. 

A lifelong learner is unstoppable.

Agility is key

This year was a nightmare for all control freaks. Everything went out the window. Rules society relied on for decades were gone. Some reacted by closing themselves up and throwing up the white flag. Others used 2020 as a catalyst and put down the fight of their lives. 

A situation although immovable is what you make of it. 2020 could have been a lost year but I decided to make it mine. 

Was it perfect?

Far from it. 

But I adapted to this ever-changing world and made the most of it. My friend the Financial Imagineer shared this bit of wisdom: 

“When the wind of change blows, some build walls, some build windmills.”

An old Chinese saying

money in a tissue box
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Money isn’t important

Sorry for misleading you. It is. But not as much as we think. Money is a tool. It allows us to purchase freedom and peace of mind. On the other hand, money isn’t the key to happiness. 

Have you ever tried hugging a stack of banknotes?

It’s cold and probably feels very lonely. Wealth is important as it allows you to focus on your true values. Falling in love with money is greed personified and a slippery slope to loneliness.

I explore this more in-depth in my article “Financial Goals: Why I Was Wrong”.

Never Alone

The grind is often sold as a 1 player game. Work as hard as you can neglect your relationships and build your wealth. On the other hand, you’ll reap the rewards down the road they say.

I have a simple question what is the point?

Throughout this year I was lucky enough to move in with my Significant Other, spend time with family and friends. After all, I found a community of like-minded people online that I’m excited to grow with. 

2020 might’ve been the year we were all a part but for me, it shone a bright light on my relationships. Don’t give up building meaningful relationships in pursuit of wealth. Life isn’t made to be lived in isolation.

If unfortunately, you had to spend the Holidays in isolation or alone. Please know that you are loved and valued whoever you are.

2020 retrospective

This year was full of surprises good or bad. But looking back, never have I grown and learned this much. Although, it came with its load of troubles 2020 counted double in many cases. 

The end of the year doesn’t mean the end of the pandemic, unfortunately. Yet it’s a great time to reflect and learn. What have you drawn from 2020 and how will you apply it in the future?

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2 Comments

  1. Kayleigh Zara

    Embracing uncertainty is one that I learnt very quickly as I went from having two solid jobs to being furlough and then to being self employed! It was definitely the kick up the ass I needed to go self employed x

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