Looking Back at 2020: A Retrospective

12 months ago, things were a lot different.

Around this time last year, I was planning my trip to Paris with my wife. Now, we’re both in our rooms in front of our computers working.

Pandemic aside, I can say I had a good 2020 vs what I set out to do. I also accomplished most of what I set out to do.

Quick Recap: Plans vs Actuals

Last year, I wrote about four separate projects:

  1. Website redesign to make my site load faster and have a better user experience
  2. Focus on specific content topics
  3. Write more content
  4. Launch new services

Among these, I’d say I did well in #1-3 while so-so in #4.

For the website, I’d give myself a 90% score. I actually just redesigned it again and got better speeds.

In terms of UX, I wouldn’t know until after a few weeks. That’ll be based on my bounce rate and pages per session metrics in Google Analytics.

For the content, I’d give myself a 100%. I implemented two writing sprints which allowed me to publish more than 60 articles this year alone. That’s more than what most websites churn out. (The image below was taken the first week of November).

My website post statistics

Lastly, for the new services, I give myself a 50% here. I was actually able to “launch” the service but it’s incomplete.

Meaning, the backend system and pricing is setup including the specific deliverables. But the front end isn’t finished yet.

I haven’t finalized the copy and design which I will eventually include in this site.

Other Metrics and Targets

No targets wouldn’t be complete without financials.

I actually use the OKR method to track my progress. I update my numbers every Monday on my BuJo. This way, I remain flexible and know where I am at any point in time.

One of my objectives is to reach a certain monthly revenue threshold.

Since I was tracking this since January, I immediately noticed that I was off track come March when clients were canceling projects.

But after all that’s said and done, I’m fortunate enough to be in an industry where I’m not affected greatly. Even my clients who canceled all resumed after a few weeks.

That said, I’d give myself a 70% on the financial aspect. I am close to meeting my active income numbers, but my passive income sources don’t come close.

Knowing this, this will be a major undertaking for my 2021. That way I get to build upon my passive income streams and stop relying on trading my time for money.

The other objective I wrote was about personal growth. I planned to read 12 books (once a month) and I’ve only met 40% of that. There’s still time to catch up, but it’s less likely.

On the other hand, I did enroll and finished several online courses that weren’t originally part of my personal development growth objective.

Thoughts on 2021

Tracking these metrics helped me learn a lot about myself. And this is something i can definitely use when I finalize my plans for 2021.

But so far, here’s a list of things I plan to add/change for 2021.

1. Add a Cost Target/Limit

While I set a revenue target for my freelancing business, I didn’t set a cost target. So, this is something I want to keep track of.

This is also a mix between professional and personal aspect.

Since I am my own business, I subscribe and pay for all the tools I’m using in my line of work. This includes my email marketing software and SEO tool among others.

And with so many tools out there, it’s easy to get lost in subscribing to a bunch of stuff you don’t actually need. That’s why it’s also important to set a limit to these.

Another consideration I’m planning is getting an annual subscription vs a monthly one as this option usually is at least 10% cheaper.

2. Hire a VA/Grow My Team

Since I am a business, I plan to grow in order to serve more customers.

This is something freelancers often have trouble understanding. It’s one of the lessons I constantly remind myself.

Since we work by ourselves, it’s easy to think that what we do only affects us, but in reality, is still part of something bigger.

That said, because I only have limited time, I can’t take on more clients without getting additional help. So, this is something I plan on working towards next year.

PS: if you know someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

3. Grow Passive Income Stream

Growing my passive income streams will be a big endeavor for me in 2021.

I’m at my point where I think I’ve paid my dues. I want to be able to wake up and do nothing yet not feel guilty about not working.

I have a full 6-month emergency fund and some investments for the future. So in the short-term, even if I don’t work, I won’t get into trouble.

But without a way to replenish that, it’s not sustainable.

That’s why I plan to grow my my passive income streams further.

During the pandemic, I created three separate streams. In four months, I earned ~$350 across all those channels.

It’s nowhere near my active income revenue, but it’s a start.

Over to You

2020 is a crazy year. Something our generation will remember for a really long time.

But it’s not all bad.

What about you? How was your 2020?

Good? Bad? No change? Either way, I’d love to know.

Ariel Lim

Ariel Lim

Management consultant / MBA / Inbound marketer who helps startups generate leads, create and execute strategies.

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