2020 certainly has been a unique year. It has affected everyone in different ways and most everyone was tested and challenged at times throughout the year. That's true for every year in my opinion, but this year, more so than years past. That went for me personally as well. There were many things that occurred throughout the year, beyond my personal control. Rather than be frustrated, angry, etc., I kept telling myself to control what I can control. That could be the most important thing I've learned in my adult life, anyways. You can control your actions, but not those of others around you. It's an important concept to grasp and to come to peace with.
Although the Pandemic threw a lot of curve balls in our lives this year, even during a "normal" year, it's extremely important to still focus on your goals and dreams as much as possible. I have seen and heard so many people say "I can't wait until 2020 is over", "what a terrible year", "come on 2021", etc. While, I emphasize with them in ways, as again, I know people were affected by this year in many different ways and this writing is not meant to be controversial or political in any manner whatsoever, it still brings me back to trying to make the best of a particular situation and circumstances. A simple calendar date flip, isn't going to fix everything. Time goes on and time heals. For me personally, I wasn't about to let 2020 be a wash and not enjoy it to the best of my abilities.
For that reason, I feel like 2020 was conquered. I saw 13 different states, went on the most camping trips in a year than I ever had before (14), saw 3 new National Parks, was able to work from home for the majority of the year (which led to a better work/life balance and less time commuting, more sleep and less stress), got more runs in and spent more time with my family.
In fact, 2020 in some ways, was one of my favorite years. It challenged me, but I like being challenged. A good challenge often time brings about frustration, but forces you to conquer if you are determined. Aside from the road trips, I grew closer in friendships and spent more time appreciating everyday life.
But, like I said, 2020 was a challenging year as well. When the Pandemic hit, one of my businesses almost completely halted, which in turn, affected our financial plans and our ability to save more. I quickly realized that we needed to be a bit more conservative in our financial approach. Of course, nobody would have ever expected something like this, but here we were.
At the time the Pandemic hit, we were in the midst of trying to obtain our 6th rental property. We had put a few offers on houses. One house, we actually offered $15K over asking and still lost out. The market was HOT (who would have thought that it would be even hotter today as I write this). Looking back, it was a blessing that our offer didn't get chosen, as we had no idea what was to come. This was our first full year owning 5 rental properties and the challenges that came along with that were many. We had to fill vacancies on two of them, both in the midst of the pandemic (in March and May), as well as deal with many repairs and some challenging conversations. We persevered and we grew. We kept sight of our goals and pushed forward.
We altered our financial goals somewhat, as the months went by, but still didn't lose sight of some of our big future goals and plans. We continued funding our retirement accounts, maxing out both of our 401Ks (we had maxed out both of our Roth's prior to the Pandemic hitting). Also prior to the pandemic, we had decided to aggressively pay down our student loans and have those wiped clean by the end of 2020. Well, as I said, due to our plan to play it more conservative, we let off the pedal some and stuck with our normal payments for 2020, until we were in a better cash position, going into 2021. We both just increased our payments going into the new year and now have a goal to have them paid off by the end of 2021.
It's okay to alter goals and plans sometimes. Unexpected things pop up. It's having that drive and determination to stick with it, that it really boils down to. I'm excited for 2021 and have big dreams and plans for the year. I'm sure I will fail to hit certain goals, while far exceeding others. I'm okay with that. I hope you were also able to look back on the year and find several positive moments and things you were proud of. Look ahead to the coming year with confidence and excitement. We wish you a Happy Near Year from Take the Leap. Here's to positive things to come for 2021!