2020: A Retrospective

At the end of 2019, I had a completely different view of what was to come in 2020. The new year started with a trip out of the cold and snowy conditions of North Dakota, to the sunny and warm golf courses of Phoenix, Arizona. It was about this time COVID was beginning to garner more attention, or as one person put it, “this Wuhan thing.” A few weeks after that, it was in the US.

Then, what seemingly felt like the snap of fingers, every state had cases, schools closed and offices were sending people to work from home. Businesses shuttered, jobs were lost, and the economy hit the skids. Those of us with flights booked scrambled to cancel them, making sure we got credit for future travel. Conferences and presentations were postponed or cancelled all together. Those of us with kids became suto-teachers (7th grade math is waaaay different from my school days!) . “Sorry, I was on mute” could be heard five times a day. And to top it off, as a camper, it was damn near impossible to find a camping spot because so many people bought campers, too.

2020 is not what any of us thought it would be. I was fortunate to have a job all year with a great company and group to work with. Many of my peers were not as fortunate. Most were able to find new opportunities, whereas a couple are still searching.

Though there were struggles, there was a lot of good, also. The word of the year for me was TIME. It was cluster-f*ck initially, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was given the gift of TIME this year.

So what did I do with my time? Well, glad you asked! What follows is a retrospective of an unprecedented year.

Family. My two boys are 13 and 10. They’re growing up way, way too fast. Instead of them being in a bunch of activities, camps, and running with friends, they were forced to hang out with me and their mom (my patient and understanding wife). It was awesome!! We explored, talked, played games, laughed, argued, and taught each other. From yelling at the TV playing Mario Kart to scooter races down the block, I got to spend quality time that I wouldn’t have otherwise. The pictures on my phone prove how much fun we had together…even if we did get under each other’s skin every so often!

In search of buffalo at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Professional Growth. What do you get when you cross four PMO books, about 50 various podcasts, 30 PMI presentations viewed, and 7 Audible books on various topics? I don’t know either, but I learned a lot about a variety of topics. I feel I’ve become a much more rounded professional, able to creatively look at a variety of situations and issues, and figure out how to resolve effectively.

Connections. If you were at the office, you’d take a time out and have coffee once in awhile with someone. Why not do the same thing virtually? I had the opportunity to have Zoom coffee with old friends, professional connections I’ve only interacted with over social media, and family. People I met with spanned from a few miles away to a few thousand in other countries. It was great to have these face to face virtual interactions.

Adventure. Instead of getting on a plane and heading to urban destinations for vacation this year, we packed up the camper and went out to the Badlands of North Dakota. I ran through the buttes. I mountain biked on a ridge with a 100′ drop on either side with my son in front of me laughing hysterically while he biked along it too. We kayaked for miles in a shallow river and had a large dog try to jump in my kayak with me. I accidentally crossed into Canada while mountain biking along with US/Canadian border and got lost. So many adventures! So many memories!

Me and my sons after climbing a 100′ butte in the Badlands

Personal Growth. I turned 45 this year. I don’t feel it, but the calendar tells me it’s true. Damn. But instead of complain, I decided I’m going to do some epic shit! So, I made a “Before 50” list of goals and started putting plans in place to achieve them. Of the 6 items on the list, I’ve even knocked one off already! Another will be done by May. Writing goals down and putting plans in place will turn them into reality. I’ve also shared them with my wife, who looked at a couple and said “You’re crazy, but alright.”

Personal Branding. I did my first presentation outside of the upper midwest region (Learnfest Caribbean, which is an awesome organization!); presented locally to a project management and business analyst group; written a number of blogs and articles for my own blog and other publications; did a project management training/recording for a company that trains nonprofits; and recorded short presentations for Project Bites (https://projectbites.com). All these have grown my personal brand to a global community.

Presenting at LFC virtually

It’s hard to say what 2021 will look like right now. Even with the COVID vaccine rolling out, there are still question marks over when the “new norm” will happen. In the meantime, my 2021 will hopefully be filled with memories like 2020, where I can spend precious time with my family, and grow myself personally and professionally. Happy new year!!

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