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Looking back at 2020

/Rathes Sachchithananthan
Looking back at 2020

Every year, when that year comes to an end, I spend some time looking back at that year evaluating how well I did. If you look at my past reviews, you will notice that I tend to be pretty harsh on myself. That's how I push myself to become better every year.

This year will be different. 2020 has been a tough year for all of us, including me, so this year I want to look back without judging myself for what I have achieved or haven't.

I started 2020 with the last days in my previous job at Teamleader. I was finishing up my work there while looking forward to what was to come: A new job in a new city, even a new country.

Before I could entirely move to London to join my new employer Hussle, I temporarily moved back to Haltern to my parents. My plan was to organize my new life from there.

A few weeks later, I was ready to leave. I had my one-way ticket to London and an AirBnB for a month from which I wanted to find my new flat.

But then COVID—19 happened. My flight was cancelled, my Airbnb luckily as well.

So at the end that meant that I had to spend more time at home with my parents. More time than I had planned, more time than I could actually handle. Living parents is charming for a while but gets annoying in the long term.

Not only was I stuck at my parents' place, but I was also furloughed for the entire April.

It was just the beginning, so I took it pretty easy. I spent most of my time working out (remember the Burpril challenge?). And on social media (remember my Instagram stories during my long runs?).

Amidst this time, something unexpected happened to me. I would say the highlight of this year, probably of my entire life so far. The most amazing woman reached out to me and asked if we should get to know each other. This developed quickly into nights of video calls, a virtual date, and us counting days together until I could move to London.

On July 4th, I finally made it to London. Another one-way ticket. Another Airbnb. And a month of working from a hotel room. Because of COVID—19, there was no lobby or restaurant that I could work from. No, I was working from my hotel room ordering from Deliveroo every single day.

But I made it. I was finally in London. Things were different than I had thought of, but it all started to work out.

In August, I moved into my flat, and I started settling down. The day to day life in London quickly took over from the initial excitement of a new place. I mean, this is not the first time that I was moving to a new city.

While this sounds pretty positive, the time from April to August took a lot of my mental energy. While, in the beginning, I was really active on social media sharing how well I was dealing with the situation, things didn't stay that easy all the time.

Especially with all the moving stress and the new job, I had no time to focus on my side project. I didn't make that much progress on my "Learn Tamil" book.

Instead, I even started a new project with my brother. During the lockdown in April, I started a small app to plan all the workouts upfront. This app got used more and more, and I decided that this could be a side-project, too. Maxout was born.

I was also approached by some fantastic people to help out on their project for a bit. This is also something that made me really proud to join, so there is another side-project that I'm now working on. (Will talk about it more when I actually made some impact)

So instead of focussing on my one side-project, I jumped into two other. But that was my way to cope with the listlessness. I just worked on what felt delightful at the moment.

Luckily, my new employer has been incredible. The gyms being shut down due to COVID—19 meant no real revenue for us anymore. Despite that difficult situation, the team worked so well together, including everyone in management and the board. Compared to the stories that I heard from other workplaces, I have to be grateful for our reassuring our company leads.

On to 2021

While I know that the beginning of 2021 isn't going to be that different from our current situation now, there are a few things that I want to tackle next year. I have somehow accepted our circumstances, and I think I can make progress even in such a time.

Becoming an engineering manager

The first bigger goal for 2021 one is work-related. Currently, I'm working as a senior front-end developer. I really enjoy what I'm doing right now, but I want to take the next step.

I want to grow into the role of an engineering manager. I have been developing for more than 15 years now since I was a child. During that time, I have seen so many different companies as a freelancer. I have co-founded successful and unsuccessful companies, and I have worked in various startups.

If I think back at what made me the happiest, the one thing that comes to my mind is how much I enjoyed making the teams work. Enabling and supporting each member of the team so that they become one strong unit. I loved to be the wall that kept the external noise away from them.

As an Engineering Manager, I hope to get to do this kind of work a lot more than in my current role. I am sure that I can have a more significant impact by enabling people to deliver better results.


If there is something that I am really proud about 2020 in regards to work, then it is Maxout. Starting as a personal exercise project, it has now become a real (web-)app that I am working on with my brother and my girlfriend. It's so much fun to work on it, bringing in all the ideas we have.

In 2021, I want to keep working on this project. There are no big goals, but I still have set some targets to reach by the end of the year. And along the way, I want to learn new things, especially in product development and design.

Learn Tamil

At the same time, I also do not want to lose focus on the book. This book should get released soon as well. The second part is just one chapter away from being complete, and the last part is not that big.

I have to write a bit more regularly and engage with the mailing list again, and this project should get to the next step pretty soon. (My brother is doing some research and if things work out well, we might have something really nice for the app as well)

The biggest project of 2021

Apart from all of this, there is another big project, the most important one for 2021. I'm going to marry the most amazing woman. We've only been together for a little over half a year, but this time has been so intense. COVID—19 and the lockdowns brought us a lot closer in this first half-year than we would have been without it. It feels like I have known her forever.

2020 has been a shit year if you look it from the perspective of the world, but if I look at it from my own point of view, it wasn't actually that bad. I'm still looking forward to 2021, though.

Photo by Amin Salehi on Unsplash