2020 By The Numbers

Mood & Habits

I tracked my mood at the end of every day in 2020 on a scale from one to five (awful -> bad -> neutral -> good -> rad). It was a whim with no purpose, but consolidating the numbers are interesting, so sharing a few nuggets here. Daylio is an iOS app that lets you customize daily activity tracking. Some examples I have are ‘work’, ‘workout’, ‘cook’, ‘read’, ‘friends’, ‘family’, and even ‘good meal’. I had a lot of goals in 2020, but they were pretty much the same as 2018 (bottom of this 2017 reflections post): spend less, read more, eat healthier, exercise more, be more civically active, and volunteer. I wrote down some additional ones like improving my aesthetic, ensuring fitness is supplemented by lifestyle, and get better at keeping up with my friends. But we all know how COVID-19 threw the world off the rails by early March, and some goals ended up being met, and some were completely forgotten. Fitness and lifestyle were my top focus, and I made two rules in Daylio: (1) if I worked out that day - then no matter what happened - that day was RAD (five out of five!) and (2) I couldn’t make a day RAD for any other reason, no matter how good it was. So, the numbers:


I had 107 rad days (aka worked out 107 days), 162 good days, 86 neutral days, 10 bad days, and 1 awful day. Of 107 workout days, only 24 of them ended in a non-good day the next day. Of all my weekend days, only 4 were neutral (none bad), which also means the other 82 neutral days all fell during the work week. 24 out of 52 Mondays were neutral or worse. The start of COVID-19 is visible; in mid-March work went into overdrive as we tried to understand the business of the economy grinding to a halt. Thankfully, we eventually got an understanding of how LinkedIn Jobs (one of my product areas) was performing. The only ‘awful’ day of the year was medical related when my dad went to the hospital for a seizure (he’s fine now but has had a few since then, I think that was a bad series of seizures)

Observations & thoughts:

I self-evaluated ~73% of the year to be at least “good”. Not bad for the roller coaster that was 2020. I’ve long considered myself an optimist, but it’s funny to see that in numbers.

Seems I really enjoy weekends – makes sense, after a week of work, rest time is aptly appreciated. No surprise.

For nearly half the year, the color of Mondays was a ‘neutral’ purple after my ’good’ green weekends! Gives “Sunday Scaries” a new meaning for me. In 2021, I’ll try to do something to make Mondays more rad – exercise or something else - to brighten my mood.

Exercise seems to not only improve my mood for the day, but also the day after. I exercised for 107/366 days (29% or averaging 2x per week). In 2021, I’ll try to hit 130 days of exercise (36%, or 3x -> 2x every 2 weeks)

December was my “best” month with only good or better days, and July was next best with only 2 neutral days (the rest good or better). Coincidentally, these line up with LinkedIn’s company shutdowns, during which no work is done for an entire week for each of these months (around July 4th and Christmas). Outside company holidays/shutdowns, I took five days of vacation (three to go to NY in February, and two mental health days throughout the year which I would highly recommend!).

Overall, I’m really satisfied with this data. I often reflect on my day but it’s rare to reflect with precision on longer periods of time. For 2021, I’m not sure what I’ll make my “rad condition”. It may continue to be exercise, or in the spirit of Atomic Habits (by James Clear) and chaining good habits together, I might make the condition to exercise AND do something else. Open to suggestions if anyone’s got any positive habits!

Spending Habits

The only other goal from the list I (sort of) accomplished was spending less. I say sort of because I didn’t pay rent in 2018 or the first half of 2019 due to living with my parents, so while my total expenses went up +9% in 2020, my non-rent expenses went down -27%. I’ll call that a win, even if I expected the decline to be larger due to COVID. I’m not going to share actual values, but I’ve been tracking my personal finances (expenses, investments) since January 2017, here are the percents from 2019 to 2020:

Food + Groceries total only went down -1% y/y. I was eating out a lot (at least 111 times this year, excl. Venmo transactions or shared-group meals) which declined -18% but I spent +97% more on groceries as I started buying healthier and enjoying cooking a lot more. Drinks: -69%. Gas: -47%, Transportation: -19%, Travel: -57%, the epitome of having nowhere to go. Entertainment: -31%. Interestingly, Shopping was only down -1% y/y. Guess eCommerce really hooked me!

Final Thoughts

2020 was a crazy year. In a lot of ways. But there was a lot to be grateful for. Zoom trivia nights, learning poker, video games for the first time since freshman year, getting a girlfriend (thanks for liking me first on Hinge, Michelle), and extended time with family for the first time since high school. My grandma even got COVID in the last few weeks of the year, but she’s out of the danger timeframe and is showing no symptoms at 90 years of age. I am thankful for so much. I have a lot of hopes and plans for 2021 which I’ll save for a later post. If you’ve read this far, I’d love to chat and catch up on your 2020 and 2021 plans, or hear any suggestions you might have for me!