2021... Leaving behind 2020...

2020 – A Year of Chaotic Misinformation Amidst A Deadly Pandemic

Wow, 2020 was a real blur. I mean, a good deal of time was spent hand washing, self-isolating, 6-feet/2-meter social distancing, and masking up. All to avoid being infected by Covid-19, a new pathogen, which dominated most of the world’s attention. The “19” is because it was discovered and identified towards the end of 2019. The pathogen spent 2020 ravaging the world. Some places worse than others. And riding side by side with the virus was a storm of mis-information and a character assassination of medical science.

When your medical professionals are spending as much time dealing with political opponents and mass mis-information, as they are trying to fight the disease… you have a big problem 2020 was that. People got sick en-masse. People died by the thousands. And that was just in the USA.

2021 – The Mad Dash To Normal

2020 came to an end. Vaccines became available. People were arguing about whether they should wear masks or not. People were arguing against vaccines(same usual arguments). And businesses were pressuring local politicians to re-open ASAP, regardless of the situation with the pandemic.

Essentially, most people saw 2021 as the year to make a mad dash back to “normal”. A new presidency and administration, multiple vaccines generally available to any and all who wanted it. The waves of infections and deaths had receded in the USA(not going to speak about the rest of the world).

Then the variants started to appear. Well, the variants had been appearing since the beginning, but there were now significantly divergent variants that were both more capable of infecting people as well as demonstrated some ability to infect even vaccinated people. Joy.

A Time To Focus On One’s Self And One’s Family Life

To say that 2020-2021 was stressful… would be a massive understatement. Major political issues both domestic and international along with a global pandemic REALLY made for a great time for one’s sense of inner peace.

This was a good time to focus on one’s self and one’s family. And throughout 2020 and into 2021, I spent more time with my family. Of course, everyone was sheltering in place, so the whole of the family was at home. ๐Ÿ™‚ But this gave me plenty of opportunities to reflect on how much or how little time I had been spending at home. Quality time where I was actually interacting with them as opposed to working remotely while sitting near them. A huge difference.

I also worked less. Stressing out about the pandemic and spending more time at home, I found myself realizing that while work made up a good deal of my waking time attention, it wasn’t something I loved or felt a passion for. More on this later.

So I worked less and spent a good deal of time not working for any company and just had time to think, decompress, and get a handle on just how much my wife worked to keep things sane around the house. How much my daughter was growing up… and how fast. That work life balance people talk about… how does one measure and assess it without a good objective perspective from which to make the observations? I had only assessed it from the perspective of someone who worked full time with 24/7 on-call responsibilities. While I was aware this had eaten into my family life, I never realized nor appreciated just how much and to what degree. -_-;

Work vs Life Balance

  • There is always some reason why “work” should preempt “personal” life. Always.
  • If you are focusing on ‘work”, then any needs and asks from your “personal” life are “interruptions”.
  • “Work” meeting schedules always have more priority than “personal” schedules.
  • “Work Life Balance” quickly takes on a “Work vs Personal Life” mindset.

The moment these thoughts entered my mind, I realized that I was constantly making excuses for “work” to my family. Constantly. There was never time to spend time with the family, but there _must_ always be time to focus on work.

I work to support myself and my family. But more and more, I found myself in the position where my family was my life support system to support me working.

So work became significantly less important to me. The pendulum in my mind had FINALLY swung in the other direction from “work” to my “personal life”.

So 2020-2021 marked a period where I’m taking time away from my professional career and re-assessing what “work” and “career” meant to me in a world where my personal and family life is not going to take a backseat to my work and my career.

Finding A New Balance

Being able to just “go to the beach”, “go shopping with my daughter”, or just sitting down and talking at length about coding and personal philosophy with my daughter.

I found Tony Stark’s life in “Avengers: Endgame”, where he is living with Pepper Potts at the cabin with their daughter, to be very heart warming. And he has no interest in jeopardizing any of that happiness and peace that he has found. But he does eventually go back to work, so to speak, and when he does, he has this gem of a quote:

Tony Stark We got a shot at getting these stones, but I gotta tell you my priorities. Bring back what we lost, I hope, yes. Keep what I found, I have to, at all costs. And maybe not die trying would be nice.

In many ways, I find the process of re-assessing my professional and work priorities to be like that. I want to bring back some of the passion and energy I felt and had for my career and work. But I also definitely need to keep the peace and happiness I found in my time away from work. The not dying part… well, that’s always good to have.

New Tool: Bullet Journalling

As part of my efforts to develop a sense of structure, I’ve taken up Bullet Journalling, or BuJu?

One thing I learned was that I needed more structure to the way I kept track of things: notes, ideas, journal entries, schedules, todo lists, etc.

While I heavily rely on technology to handle all of the “minutia”, I’ve since realized that not giving time and thought to the minutia had enabled me to make a huge mess out of what should be useful information.

So, Bullet Journalling. Where I essentially do, with paper and pen, what something like a calendar, notes, reminders, etc. app would take care of.

Been doing it for a couple of weeks and I have to say, there is a very different mindset from being reminded to do something by an alarm… or being mindful and aware of things that need to be done, and getting them done.

Second Half of 2021

So we’re now in the second half of 2021. COVID-19 is still going strong, the delta variant has become the fastest and biggest spreader, and the battle against misinformation is on-going. But much of what happens in the world isn’t something within my control. Nor, is it my responsibility.

My focus is to make sure I’m in a good head space to be there for my family and myself. Be able to make room for my career and work. And establish a balanced approach to work and personal life.

Wing Tang Wong

Wing Tang Wong