Nobody Expects a Global Pandemic: My First-Quarter 2020 Goals Check-In/Reassessment

The inspirational title of my day planner for 2020 is “Grand Plans”.

It’s funny how so many sayings about plans are negative ones:

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

“No plan survives first contact with an opposing force.”

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

All this to say that, like the Spanish Inquisition from that famous Monty Python sketch, no one expected 2020 to be the year of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Like so many others all over the world, I’m sheltering in place, practicing social distancing, and working from home, all of which I’ve been doing for almost a month now.

Already, it’s had a noticeable effect on my goals for 2020 that I set back at the start of the year.

Every three months, I assess the progress I’ve made to date on my annual goals.  The purpose of this is to determine if any changes or course correction is needed, which strengthens my ability to actually achieve my goals.

I use a simple scoring system of either 0, 0.5, or 1 point to grade the smaller sub-goals that make up each overall goal.

My 2020 goals and progress over the first quarter of the year are as follows:

1) Continue to make progress in my writing journey

  • Completely finish my WIP – Points: 0.5
  • Query my WIP – Points: 0
  • Figure out the rest of the plot for my next novel – Points: 0
  • Start my next novel – Points: 0
  • Read at least three writing craft books – Points: 0.5
  • Always be researching in general in support of future novels – Points: 0.5
  • Read the first draft of my WIP’s sequel and make general/overall revision notes – Points: 0
  • Rewrite my blog bio – Points: 0

Total points: 1.5/8 = 19%

Summary of progress: My ability to achieve most of these sub-goals is largely dependent upon the first one.

Until I completely finish my WIP, I can’t query it, read its sequel and make revision notes that are useful, start my next novel, or even work more on outlining that next novel’s plot in a meaningful way due to limitations in both my mental capacity and free time.

(Because my regular commute to work was only 15-20 minutes by bicycle, now working from home has netted me less than an hour of additional time each day, which I use to listen to the Prime Minister’s daily briefing and other news updates.)

I am progressing toward completion of my WIP, however.  I currently have only three more chapters to revise in my current draft.

Once that’s done, I’ll do a quick polishing draft to insert a few ideas into Act II that arose while revising Act III, plus a last bit of line-editing.  After that, it’s just beta readers, and then it will be ready to query and I can fully devote myself to my next WIP.

I continue to always be researching in general, although I haven’t been especially targeted about this, which is why I only gave myself half a point.  I have a few vague ideas for future novels that need researching, but right now I’ve more so been reading whatever happens across my path instead of seeking out specific sources.

Although I haven’t really gained any extra time in my day working from home, one thing it has done is make it a bit easier to actually take my lunch breaks (because there’s no one here to distract me from it with extra/ill-scheduled tasks or impromptu requests for help).

This is noteworthy because it was during my hitherto non-existent lunch breaks that I was trying to read my writing craft books.

Currently, I’m halfway through two different craft books, one that I started last year (when I also wasn’t taking all my lunch breaks) and one I started just this month.  If I keep up my current pace I should be able to read my three books easily.

As for rewriting my blog bio, this is a fairly easy task that I should have no problem achieving, for all that I haven’t started it yet (I actually forgot I’d included it as a sub-goal).

2) Improve my non-writing life

  • Explore and sample potential new hobbies – Points: 0
  • Create/put myself into situations that allow me to meet new people – Points: 0
  • Go on a trip somewhere I haven’t been before – Points: 0

Total points: 0/3 = 0%

Summary of progress: It is in this goal that COVID-19 has had the greatest impact.  It’s also the one for which I had so many plans in the works.

One of the potential new hobbies I was looking into was joining a gospel choir.

My day-planner for 2020

At the beginning of March, I had looked up all the local choirs and noted their audition dates.  I also discovered that one of the choirs was giving a free concert on March 14, so I made plans to go check out their repertoire.

Needless to say, due to the subsequent COVID-19 ban on gatherings, the concert was cancelled.  Indeed, choirs are particularly ill-suited to the social distancing existence.

So too is meeting new people.  Over Easter I was scheduled to travel cross-country to visit my sister and some old friends, and while there also planned to meet in person with a writer I know from Twitter.  That’s out.  The entire trip has been cancelled.

Speaking of trips, my parents were scheduled to go to Punta Cana in August and I, party-crasher that I am, was looking into tagging along.  That’s been cancelled.

I won’t be going anywhere I haven’t been before now—not this year, Satan—even after the world gets COVID under control.

Because even when we do get COVID under control, COVID can still come back, and there’s nowhere in the world I’m prepared to possibly get stuck if/when that happens other than my hometown where I grew up (assuming I’m even allowed to go there this year).

For sub-goal #3 I’m calling it now and have crossed it right off the list.

The other two, though, might still have legs.  It’s definitely possible to meet new people over the internet, as am I theoretically able to either explore socially-distant new hobbies or else wait out the pandemic and see what’s on offer when we’re all free to gather again.

3) De-clutter/Mary Kondo my entire apartment

  • Remove excess/unnecessary items from every room – Points: 0.5
  • Attempt to give usable items away to friends/family who want them – Points: 0
  • Donate usable items that no one wants – Points: 0
  • Minimize the amount of garbage generated – Points: 0.5

Total points: 1/4 = 25%

De-cluttering Checklist:

    • Living room

[ ] Bookshelf
[ ] Desk
[ ] Armchair
[X] Magazine box
[ ] Couch

    • Dining room

[X] Table
[ ] Side chair

    • Kitchen

[X] Fridge
[X] Cupboards
[X] Drawers
[X] On top of cupboards
[ ] Behind the oven
[ ] Behind the fridge

    • Hallway

[ ] Coat closet
[ ] Shoe trays
[ ] Storage closet

    • Bathroom

[X] Shower caddy
[X] Medicine cabinet
[X] Cupboard under the sink

    • Bedroom

[ ] Closet
[ ] Top of dresser/ornament shelf
[ ] Dresser drawers
[ ] Smallclothes drawers
[ ] Bookshelf
[ ] Nightstand
[ ] Under the bed

Summary of progress: So even though, because of COVID-19, I’m stuck at home indefinitely, and even though I have a year-long goal to Marie Kondo my entire apartment, only so much movement has occurred in this as yet.

The reasons for this are two-fold.  One, pre-COVID, I was too busy working overtime:

And two, now living the social distance existence, I’m still working regular hours during the week, while on weekends, I have NO desire for de-cluttering at the moment since I haven’t had a break yet from my two-and-a-half months of overtime.

De-cluttering can wait.  It was never going to be a big part of my first quarter anyway.

4) Complete additional long-standing/outstanding tasks

  • Get new running shoes – Points: 0
  • Make a will – Points: 0
  • Try to get a doctor – Points: 0

Total points: 0/3 = 0%

Summary of progress: So, not to put too fine a point on it, but during a global pandemic is an absolutely TERRIBLE time to have a) no doctor, b) no will, and c) very old and beat-up running shoes.

The offending running shoes

It’s pretty much the worst possible scenario—one for which, had someone even a month ago warned this would be the result of my lengthy procrastination, my response would have been an emphatic, “That won’t happen!”

Hello, reality.

It’s actually the running shoes that I lament the most—at least at the present moment.  That same week of the cancelled choir concert (which also marked the end of my overtime), I was also planning to finally hit up my local running stores to try on new shoes.

Since I can no longer go to the gym, one of the few avenues of fitness still available to me is jogging around my neighbourhood.

I have no love for road-running—asphalt is painful.  Even more so in beat-up runners.  And I have a bad knee.

But these are desperate times, so making do is the order of the day.

I just might need to also add “get physiotherapy” to my list of goals when the pandemic is finally over.


(Image source #1 and #2; #3 and #4 – J.G. Noelle)

5 thoughts on “Nobody Expects a Global Pandemic: My First-Quarter 2020 Goals Check-In/Reassessment

  1. Possible suggestion: if your present running shoes were fine until they got old and worn, and you can afford to go with sub-optimal because you can’t afford right now to damage anything (as I blogged), you could buy a replacement pair of the same exact shoes. It saves trying on and going anywhere.

    You made me thing that people still need things like clothes and even house fixings. We were more or less over the acquiring phase of moving when this hit, and I don’t do almost any shopping in stores any more because of energy, but other people are going to accidentally destroy a dish towel – and then what?

    I don’t know what retail is doing beyond groceries and pharmacies. That’s quite a luxury.

    I DID buy a new transportation device, IDENTICAL to the previous one, even though I have so few places to go, because me with an Airwheel S8 and me without one are such different people, and I like the former much better, and had been without it since Jan. 29th.

    Please don’t try to accomplish too much when you’re also dealing with so much stress – but moving forward in an organized manner gives you a center of stability.

    And congratulations! You minimize your accomplishments, but ‘I currently have only three more chapters to revise in my current draft.

    Once that’s done, I’ll do a quick polishing draft to insert a few ideas into Act II that arose while revising Act III, plus a last bit of line-editing. After that, it’s just beta readers’ is huge! Kudos!


    • Unfortunately the style of running shoe I currently have is discontinued. It was quite old. Apparently the brand has many newer, lighter models but I need to see them in person and try them on to make an informed choice, so for now I’m stuck with what I’ve got. I’m surviving.

      I haven’t needed much else, personally. I’m living in loungewear these days and know how to sew besides, so no need for new clothes, and most grocery stores sell basic household goods like light bulbs, batteries, tea towels, etc. I imagine a lot of people have turned to Amazon if they need other things. I’ve also heard that many local small businesses have found ways to remain open in modified ways or have even set up their own online shops for the first time, all of which can hopefully keep them afloat. I’m glad that the situation didn’t prevent your replacing your Airwheel.

      Thank you for your congratulations. I won’t try to do too much but I also want to keep myself occupied. I’ve got to do something with my time, and working toward my goals is enjoyable to me (or else I wouldn’t have set those particular goals to begin with!)


      • Really too bad about the shoes, but be careful – your body is even harder to repair if you damage it, especially right now.

        I do worry about those most affected by consumers NOT buying as much right now – some of them have no cushion, no savings, no one to borrow from. I hope India is doing a better job – they were not, the last time I looked.

        As usual, the most vulnerable are affected disproportionately if homemakers stay home and don’t go buy things.

        The economy has gotten whipsawed. Not that we had a choice for many things.


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