2020: A year that catapulted me into the future, again

What a year this has been!

A year like none other we have ever experienced, a year where we challenged ourselves, a year where we realized we were far more resilient than we thought we were and a year that was so much more. Despite several challenges during this year, this also turned out to be the one that changed me in a lot ways than I expected.

A quick recap of some of the significant things that happened this year:

  • The year started off with the massive bush fires in Australia. We were all so devastated with the destruction the fires caused to both flora and fauna. The orange-colored skies from the fire and smoke gave us an end of the world feeling.
  • This was followed by the Covid19 pandemic. When China went into the total lockdown, it was a wakeup call for all the others and one by one, they all started to enforce rigid lockdowns.
  • We also saw the stock market take a beating which began recovering towards fourth quarter of the year. As of this writing, Bitcoin is at over $23K!
  • We also saw massive growth of Amazon and Tesla resulting in surplus wealth for both Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk respectively. As of this writing, Jeff Bezos was worth over $200B and Tesla’s market valuation was upwards of $650B!
  • Although Disney+ gained good membership momentum, Netflix emerged as the winner in streaming services with plethora of members streaming unprecedented amount of content during the lockdown. Everyone I knew had seen or was watching a Kdrama!
  • After a long gap, all the sporting events began sans the fans and crowd. I cannot imagine how the players must have felt as they usually tend to exceed their individual performances by feeding on the energy of the crowd.
  • Remote work became norm. We invested in better equipment for enabling us work better from the comforts of home. The lines between work and home blurred forever.
  • Zoom outperformed all other similar service providers. Microsoft Teams is still far behind. Google Meet is now catching up with great speed. I must’ve had over 75 video meetings. How many video meetings did you have?
  • Beirut explosion caused by large storage of ammonium nitrate caused multiple casualties and increased the political and economic tensions in the region.
  • Killing of George Floyd in Minnesota brought the Black Lives Matter to the forefront
  • Famous NBA player Kobe Bryant was killed in an unfortunate helicopter crash

And while we saw back-to-back bad things happen and unfold all over, we also saw some things that made us believe that all is not lost.

  • The courage with which the front-line folks responded to the pandemic. The essential services and people that work in these put on their PPE (personal protective equipment) and went on to perform their duty, to protect the rest of us. Our respect for nurses, doctors, grocery store workers, cab drivers, truck drivers, public transport workers and several others increased multiple folds, thanks to their dedication and commitment.
  • Scientists came together to discover the vaccine and how various countries worked with WHO (World health Organization) and expedited the manufacturing and delivering the vaccines.
  • And not just that, thousands volunteered for vaccine testing. Thanks to what these people did, we the public are now in the vicinity of being vaccinated. Isn’t that great?
  • Mindfulness was on everyone’s mind. We all began appreciating the little things in our lives – food, shelter, salary, good health and more.

While the world had a lot more going on, this was also the year that I was introspective like never. I questioned and challenged every aspect of my life. What had I done, what am I doing now, what do I need to do and the likes. In the harshest way, this was THE year that I needed. Listed below aremy top 10 life changing experiences, from the year that we will never forget for as long as we live.

  1. New year countdown at Dubai and reflections of 2019

My wife and I were in Dubai last December to ring in the bell for the new year. We decided not to go to Burj Khalifa for the countdown as that was way too crowded. Instead, we went to La Mer to see the fireworks over Burj Al Arab. Luckily, the restaurant where we were at for the countdown also had a beautiful view of Burj Khalifa too. We reflected on how the year 2019 was and were grateful for all the wonderful things in our lives. I remember how excited and pumped up we both were and eagerly looking forward to the year 2020. We had so many to-do items and dreams that we wanted to turn into reality. Little did we know back then how the year would turn out to be.

What I learnt from this: To continue being mindful and make the best of the moment for you never know what is coming up next.

  1. Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certification

For the longest of times, I had put this in the back burner. As we were all about to hit lockdowns, this became my number one priority. Most of my Feb 2020 was consumed in my preparations for the exam. I successfully cleared it on my first attempt. Check out my article to know how this was possible.

What I learnt from this: To continue upskilling myself and be relevant in the industry.

  1. 100 days of plant-based diet

I’ve always needed to eat meat in at least one meal for the day. There have been days when there were no veggies in my plate. In the past, I’ve also suffered from kidney stones which resulted in gradual reduction on the total meat consumption. As the lockdowns began, we had to exercise even more precautions of where we went, what we ate, what we brought back home and the likes. There were several articles back in April 2020 about how it was not a good idea to eat meat during this period and the emphasis on plant-based diets. I couldn’t imagine myself to have a single day without meat. This is when my wife and I took a hard decision to go on a fully plant-based diet for a hundred days. At first, this was a very overwhelming goal. We took it one day at a time. It turned into one week at a time. And then it turned out to be one month at a time. I remember how elated with joy we were on achieving the goal. It felt great. The psychological barrier was broken. I now knew that I could live without meat and can successfully supplement plant based diet for my protein intake. Hey, if I can do it, I’m certain that you can do it too!

What I learnt from this: I can live on a plant-based diet and that there is nothing wrong with it.

  1. 100 days of walking

As we begin to gain momentum to achieve our goal(s), one of the things that we all do is take more actions to expedite the results. I saw this happening as I was exercising the plant-based diet. The byproduct of this was my weight loss. Without much of physical exercise, I was losing my weight, by merely being on a plant-based diet. How? I’ve no idea. However, as I begin to lose my weight, my next goal became clearer. I needed to be physically active. Gyms were all closed. They were yet to reopen. The only option I could think of at the time was to walk. And walk I did. I remember the first day of walking. I could barely walk for 45 minutes. I never gave up. 45 minutes turned an hour. An hour turned into 90 minutes. Cut to present, I can now comfortably walk for 2 hours. As I began walking, there was a renewed joy in exploring my neighborhood. I’ve walked past the trees, shrubs several times in the past, but it was different this time around. There was appreciation in my sight. At first it was for the greenery around. Overgrown grass, uncut plants around the buildings, fallen leaves on the footpath and more. It was as if the earth had begun to heal. The sight was so pleasing. This was followed by an immediate appreciation to the heroes that maintenance workers were. Pre-covid days, they diligently trimmed the overgrown grass, cleaned the walking areas, and trimmed plants all around – all in an effort to keep things clean, something that Singapore is known for. As I began to walk more and more, the sense of appreciation never dimmed down, but it only increased in leaps and bounds.

What I learnt from this: Fitness journey starts with simple changes to our lifestyle. In the long run, these changes worth it.

  1. Increased Focus and commitment on weight loss

Back in 2010, I embarked on a fitness journey. Back then, I started at around 80kgs and in about 4 months of workouts, I had dropped to around 71kgs. It was an achievement. I was in my late 20s. Now, it was different. I weighed around 116kgs. I was grossly obese. The 100 days of plant-based diet followed by 100 days of walking did make the needle move. I had dropped down few kilos in weight. In that period, my wife also had the most difficult conversation about my overweight and that it was high time that I did something about it. She was right. I had to act. While the gyms were still closed, this time around, shops were open to buy some simple workout equipment. I bought few pairs of dumbbell and stared out with simple workouts. I combined my walking with strength training. After a lot of research, I decided to do strength training followed by walking. On the days that I took a break from strength training, I walked. Today, I’m more active that I was in the last decade, a lot more agile – I can easily bend down and pick up that spoon which fell below the table, thanks to my clumsiness!

I realized that it was a long-term goal of being fit and lose weight. Consistency matters a lot. Gradual increase in intensity helps. But most importantly, diet is extremely crucial. No matter how much I walked, or did the weight reps, the only difference in the week-on-week reduction occurred when the diet was done correct. I cannot emphasize this enough. Diet is important. It must match your workout to get your results.

I realized that it was a long-term goal of being fit and lose weight. Consistency matters a lot. Gradual increase in intensity helps. But most importantly, diet is extremely crucial. No matter how much I walked, or did the weight reps, the only difference in the week-on-week reduction occurred when the diet was done correct. I cannot emphasize this enough. Diet is important. It must match your workout to get your results.


I’m delighted to share with you my transformation, although it is in progress, the results are exciting!

What I learnt from this: Seeing myself change physically and the transformation shaping up, I’m motivated to continue this journey and stay committed.

  1. Launch of my website

If you have read my article on why I launched my website, you would notice that it is a good precursor of what happened. However, it was much more than that. The actual work began sometime in March 2020. I had one goal. To write. Back then, I knew nothing about WordPress or the plugins or all the things that came with having my own website. I began looking for freelancers who could help me turn my vision into reality. After several failed attempts and disappointments, I considered doing this on my own. I enrolled and completed some courses on Udemy after which I had a good understanding of how to use WordPress, customize it, what it takes to perform search engine optimization and how to increase traffic.

Remember how Zoom exploded everywhere? The organization that I work for, at the time of this writing, took on Microsoft Teams. Suddenly, the calendar got cramped up with a plethora of meetings, more in odd hours of the day too. As work schedule began hectic, I consistently failed to commit time for my website. As much difficult as it was a decision at the time, I had to find someone who could do this for me while I juggled my commitments. Technomind were just what I was looking for. After several calls, design discussions and requirement gathering sessions, testing and all the things that take to launch a website, I finally announced the launch of my website early November.

I’m grateful for all of you who took time to check out the website, read the articles and gave such overwhelming and motivating feedback. I got so many calls and messages that it was very humbling an experience for me. Perhaps it is true as the saying goes. You do not find your passion. Your passion finds you!

What I learnt from this: Passion truly finds you. When you hear it calling you, respond and act. You will be delighted with the results of your efforts.

  1. Korean entertainment content – KDramas, KMovies, KPop

What was that one common thing among all of us during lockdown? We streamed. And streamed did we. So much like never before. Thanks to Netflix, we all now had access to some wonderful content from all over the world. Thanks to 2020 Academy Award Winner movie Parasite, we were now introduced to the world of Korean movies.

Yes, they were there before. Some of us had seen them while most were oblivious to this. This movie changed everything. During his 2020 Golden Globe Awards acceptance speech, director Bong Joon Ho said something that truly changed the viewing experience – “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

In the past years, something similar happened to Spanish movies and TV Shows. Remember Narcos and Money Heist? Well, for me, 2020 was the year for KDramas. The surge in popularity was like nothing that I’ve seen. Signal, Misaeng, Reply 1988, Good Manager, Crash Landing On You, Tunnel, Kingdom were some of the best shows that I’ve seen and are definitely recommended.

If you haven’t seen any yet, I would recommend you start with Signal.

What I learnt from this: I couldn’t agree more to what the critically acclaimed director Bong Joon Ho said. When we overcome the psychological barrier of the subtitles, we have access to some of the amazing content from all over the world. I’ve now watched movies, tv shows and documentaries in Spanish, Korean, Japanese, French, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Bengali, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarathi and many more.

  1. MacRitchie Reservoir Hiking Trail

After having completed 100 days of walking, I was rearing to go for a longer walk, preferably on a challenging terrain. As we were not travelling abroad, it was finally the time to go check out the MacRitchie Reservoir and venture out on the longest trail spanning across mix of terrains that included rough patches of roads, steep climbs, a boardwalk and while doing so, get a chance glimpse of the wild. I must admit, the habit of walking definitely helped.

If you are not a regular walker, I would recommend not to go on the long hiking trail. Boardwalk is a better option, equally scenic. We started our hike at 7.20am and by the time we were done, it was around 11.30am. The total walk was around 13km including all the deviations we took, and the duration was around 4 hours as it included several rest breaks and photo ops.

I’ve uploaded pictures of some of the fantastic spots on my Instagram feed. Check them out here.

What I learnt from this: Keep pushing your physical fitness levels and continue overcoming your fear. I never imagined I would be able to complete this hiking trail but I did. I kept pushing on my daily walks and when it was time, the struggle did not keep me down.

  1. LUDO brought us together

One of the many board games from the childhood that I loved was Ludo. Reason was simple. It was fun. It is therefore not a surprise that when lockdowns hit in 2020, mobile app with the same name became such a rage. It was a super fun way to connect/reconnect with friends and extended family. We played it and got hooked to it right away. I even was part of a chat group on WhatsApp that was dedicated to Ludo. Considering the engagement levels in the app, the developers released voice chat feature within the game. This just added more fun to the game. The thing is, if in the game you are falling behind, just cause some disruption and enjoy the fun!

What I learnt from this: Friends and family are important. Make full use of every chance that you get to connect and bond. Overlook the short comings of them and build relations.

  1. Pottery was fun

As more and more venues began opening up with the ease in restrictions, we ventured pottery. We had purchased a single session at Dream Art, for couple, for 45 minutes in duration. This was a simple session that involved making a cup or a bowl, with some outer design. Both my wife and I chose to make cups, just that they were different. The whole experience of getting our hands dirty with the clay, working out on the clay by ourselves to shape it up was super fun.

This just re-emphasized the need to participate in fun activities as a couple, strengthening the bond between us. I’m looking forward for more sessions now!

What I learnt from this: Activities that you can do as a couple are important and strengthen the bond between two individuals. Next time you get a chance to do some fun activity with your husband or wife, don’t hesitate. Go for it!

Even as we begin to step into the next calendar year, the key essence of my goals continues to remain the same.

  • Continue to be kind, good and compassionate to people around me
  • Strive to do the right thing no matter what the difficulty is
  • Be pragmatic and rational in all endeavors
  • Help others, in whatever way possible
  • Give back to the society for what you have achieved

So how has 2020 changed your life? What did you do this year that has positioned you with momentum going into 2021? Take a moment and comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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