My Plans for the Year of COVID…Totally Failed

By now - you've probably read the success stories of people that channeled their inner David Goggins and absolutely f*cking crushed their 2020 lockdown goals…

…well I DID NOT.

Maybe you didn't either?

It's not that I didn't make a plan…I probably even wrote it down too.

Here's what I wanted to do -

I wanted to create 1 project per month for 6 months.

…I got 2.5 projects complete.

Now, if I was a baseball player, I'd be a Hall of Famer - but in the world of productivity…a sub-50% completion rate won't cut it.


When the New Year came around - I felt like a complete failure.

There were ups and downs along the way - including some super highs as well as super lows (not uncommon in the life of a software engineer).

And was there any lasting lessons I could take away from the failure???


Probably the biggest lesson that was ingrained in my cerebrum…

Routine is oh-so important.

I had always known this, but usually when working on tasks for clients or outsourced projects there is more accountability to get into a routine.

It's super hard to hold yourself accountable - but one way is creating a daily routine and sticking to it. Apps help - I've been using Sorted.

But when the world adds on top the most empty lineups in Bali since 1970 (and probably we will ever see) - it made it damn near impossible to stay accountable to a daily routine.


The worst part that happened was not only failing to accomplish my goals - but my stress levels increased exponentially.

I'm not sure if this was from working hard or knowing that I wasn't hitting my self-set goals -likely a bit of both…

I was living in a small, surf town called Keramas in Bali - on the east coast of the island - where I was the only tourist in the area for 7 months.

I made a lot of local friends and started a fund to help those struggling - while I was able to keep busy…I'm someone who craves deep, intellectual conversation which was lacking.


To compensate - I began visiting some friends across the island in remote-work hub Canggu for some fiesta (yeah sorry to rub it in - things have been normal here since June ;)

Wow - it was a great time to be in Bali - it felt like a small-town, surf community again. It helped a ton on the anxiety front - but I was still lacking deep, intellectual conversation - Canggu was basically a town of monkeys trying to hump…which hell after 2 months confined to your house/room you can't blame the monkey mind.

My routine was…

  • Monday - Friday: Work
  • Friday night: Party
  • Saturday: Hangover day
  • Sunday: Put my life back together

Looking back - it was actually the 9–5 city routine I've ran away from my entire life.

After about 3 months of this routine, my anxiety peaked…

Spells of tension in the neck, sweaty palms, hypochondria, and a fear of being in public. I also started to gain some weight and lost interest in surfing - something that's always been a constant in my life.

Work wasn't the only thing freaking me out…every week there was news on the forever changing immigration laws. Would foreigners be allowed to stay? For how long? Could I travel to 'insert country' ? Yes!- but you have to connect through a country you can't travel to :(

I started planning on where to go next…

Maybe the Maldives or South Africa…I know 1st-world problems huh ;)

None of the stress came from money - at least not while I'm living in Bali. And none of the stress came from life necessities…shelter/food/etc.

It all seemed to lay on my goal expectations and results. I was falling far behind both my expectations and results

So I failed.

Game over.


game over

Come on I'm a techie - life's a constant iteration ;)

The projects aren't even necessarily projects for money - they're more like ideas in my head that I need to get out -like a song stuck in an artists head that needs to put pen to paper. And I know this won't go away until they're complete.

So what will I do differently in 2021…

Create a more thorough plan

  • Chill on the expectations
  • Don't try to perfect everything
  • Find a good group of like-minded people (online and offline)
  • Allocate time for marketing
  • Hold myself accountable

Who knows where this will go - Will I fail to meet my goals again? Will I self-sabotage by traveling and fuck up my plans? Will there be other unexpected life events?

F*ck. I don't know.

But if I learned anything - it's to be OK with things not turning out the way you expect them to go…because they inevitably won't.

Please help keep me accountable ;) and I'll help keep you accountable too. Give me a shout on twitter and what you're working on @pj_manning

PJ Manning

I'm an addict - coffee, surf, work, and wine. Been living the travel developer lifestyle since 2012 - constantly looking for where to work and surf next.