Did we cancel 2020 because of the pandemic? Well, it’s time to rethink 2020 and make plans for 2021. As I’m writing this article at my desk, today is 31st December, 2020. Actually, in less than one hour, we will enter the new year, so let’s discuss how to create highlights in 2021! Very exciting!

  • No, 2020 wasn’t cancelled by the pandemic.

On my computer, there is a folder called “Treat Life Seriously” in which I keep documents and photos about interesting things that I’ve done, e.g., international trips, concerts, and so forth.

Yes, I did many fantastic things over so many years. I have a very interesting life. But due to COVID, 2020 doesn’t seem to generate lots of highlights according to my folder. Indeed, everyone is told to stay home in 2020!

Further examination shows that the real reason why 2020 didn’t give me a lot of highlights is because I have been extremely busy this year. Let me explain.

1) My workload increased in 2020.

Because I have a portfolio career, I worked for a company as a part-time employee and have many freelance gigs at the same time. When I joined that company in 2014, I was a casual employee, meaning I didn’t have a contract. About 2 years later, I started to have rollover contracts, i.e., every time when a fixed-term contract expires, the HR department extends my contract. Initially, my workload was 0.5 FTE, and then it became 0.75 FTE, and then it became 0.5 FTE again, and then it became 0.7 FTE. In 2020, from January to September, my workload was 0.7 FTE; from October until now my workload is 0.8 FTE. The reason why my workload increased is because three co-workers quit their jobs recently – they don’t think this company will survive during the pandemic, so they changed their jobs quickly. As a result, I have to do more work at this company.

Meanwhile, my freelance gigs didn’t disappear in 2020, so I’ve been very, very busy this year. That’s why I rarely have enough time to create many highlights in 2020.

Also, working from home makes my life even more hectic for some reason. I guess it’s because change causes chaos automatically. My colleagues feel the same way.

2) I still have some important and meaningful highlights in 2020.

Although international trips didn’t happen as planned this year, I still managed to do something quite interesting in 2020:

Firstly, I watched Savage Garden’s concert Superstars and Cannonballs online. A friend of mine went to that concert 20 years ago, but at that time, I was too young to buy a ticket. Fortunately, this year I watched this video on the Internet. It’s mind-blowingly amazing. This is my favorite DVD so far. I really love Darren Hayes’s dance moves when he was singing Gunning Down the Romance!

Secondly, I watched Darren Hayes’s documentary (tour film) Too Close for Comfort in which Darren says, “Most people don’t love you as much as you think; most people also don’t hate you as much as you think. They are just somewhere in the middle.” This is very true. In this documentary, I also noticed that Darren has a very playful mindset which makes him the most interesting man in the world. Yes, I’m his superfan. As I see it, having a playful mindset is so key – it eliminates mental health issues and makes life more enjoyable every single day.

Thirdly, I read Charlie Hoehn’s book Play it Away in which Charlie talks about why play therapy is the real deal – everyone is supposed to play for fun, including adults. Play isn’t just for children. In fact, adults also need to play. Charlie says play got rid of his anxiety forever, so he is very grateful and he is sharing this secret with the whole world. Based on this theory, I will also have more fun and enjoy my play time from now on.

Next, I read Charlie Hoehn’s book Play for a Living in which many successful people’s quotes are included. They show us how to make a living by having fun. Indeed, if you want to be wildly successful, you have to be obsessed by your work. That’s exactly how successful individuals achieve their success. In my opinion, I write blog articles because I enjoy doing it. Thus, I think I’m walking the talk. 😉

Lastly, I don’t know whether this is a highlight or not, but I think it probably is. Because I had a voice injury, I have been thinking about stop teaching at university for several years. Now the pandemic is going to force a part of the university to be shut down soon, so I will be laid off in one month. Technically, this sounds like bad news. Yet realistically, this is possibly exactly what I need – I have to prioritize my health and wellbeing, meaning now COVID-19 has forced me to change my career in record time. I should be thankful, right?

international trips

  • How to create real highlights in the new year:

Here are my thoughts on how to create solid highlights in 2021 (you may find some inspiration from this list):

  1. Though international trips may not be possible without the vaccine, I will broaden my horizon by listening to audiobooks when I’m doing my workout.
  2. I will begin to watch a TV show written by my favorite TV writer Marc Cherry

“Highlights can be having intellectual experiences at home; highlights don’t have to be going out for unconventional experiences.”