End-of-the-year "balances" are distasteful, boring, and démodé. Especially, if they're long. And, how can one produce an interesting personal verdict on this horrid year? If you had a terrible year, it's no news and others probably had it worse, so please remain quiet. If you had a good year despite the context (or due to the context, if you're in one of those industries that bloom during this type of crisis), congratulations on your good fortune, please remain quiet.

I'm sure that I feel the obligation to produce an "end-of-the-year" post because I'm getting old. But at least I won't make it a scarce selection of tone-deaf anecdotes.

Here are 20 things I learned in 2020, formatted as instructions to myself:

20 things I learned in 2020

  1. Get everything down in writing. Always. It's a non-negotiable.
  2. Don't be too easy. A backbone is a sign of competence and self-respect.
  3. Become absolutely insufferable for abusive or disrespectful people.
  4. Ask all necessary questions, even the "touchy" ones.
  5. Kindness is a high form of discipline.
  6. Respect the work.
  7. Get 8 hours of sleep.
  8. Aspire to a 6-hour workday.
  9. Respect other people's time.
  10. Don't cheat the process. If something takes two months, it takes two months.
  11. A good wo/man is hard to find.
  12. Everything you create should be an entity separate from yourself.
  13. Make yourself irrelevant or someone else will.
  14. Every human group is miserable to some degree.
  15. Most people don't believe what they say. Assume hypocrisy as default.
  16. You can have the aesthetics of liberation without liberation.
  17. Love your partner to the best of your ability.
  18. Pettiness is a privilege.
  19. You (probably) live in a microcosm of privilege. The person you should be building a future for is someone you don't even know.
  20. Diversity of motivation can be somehow compared to nutritional diversity. You can't run on self-interest alone.

Art by Kalen Hollomon.