How my best 2020 investments made me happier and richer.
I’m extremely pleased with my returns this year, especially given how crazy unpredictable this year was. Now, I may be a college student who has only just started investing this year, but I truly think that I’ve got it figured all out. In this post, I will detail each of my investments along with some analysis. Without further ado, here’s what I invested in and what you should invest in next year.
We all know that this past year, 2020, has been an absolute whirlwind of a time socially, spiritually, and financially. Just look at the market. With mortgage rates hitting all-time lows, big pharma coming in to save the world, airlines running out of money, who could have possibly predicted this? Not me.
From having my college experience cut short to spending months locked indoors to Zoom University to an exhausting virtual recruiting season, my emotions have been everywhere. Even on a personal level, everything was quite unpredictable.
In March when I got sent home from college, I fully expected to be back to school within a month or so. I even left practically everything in my dorm! I treated it like an extended spring break. Now, it’s literally the last day of the year and I still haven’t been back to college after picking up my belongings from my dorm back in May. What does the unpredictability of my own life have to do with our economy? What does my life have to do with how I invested? Not much actually. The most important and best-performing investments I made this year were the investments I made on myself.
Over the last year, I’ve really worked on investing more in myself. For years in high school, I wasn’t self-motivated for anything that I did. I was grinding my butt off, losing sleep and my own sanity just to get into a good college. I did that to get a good job…or so I told myself. I was going to the gym and dieting to look a certain way and look good in clothes that I wanted to wear out. I was doing a lot of things and putting way too much effort into looking like I was put together when I wasn’t even sure of who I was.
This world in lockdown has made me question everything I was doing and force me into realizing what was actually important, and what I should really prioritize: myself. And perhaps that sounds selfish, but hear me out.
My Top 3 Investments of 2020
Investing in my mindset and mental well-being isn’t necessarily a financial investment, but it did absolutely make me both happier and richer, as promised by the title of this article. I came into this year ready to hustle. I wanted to have everything and to do everything. I wanted to get a 4.0 and to go out and because of my thriving social life. I wanted to barely sleep at all but also to be energized and ready to go at all times (shoutout to Panera’s coffee subscription). I wanted to make a lot of money as quickly as possible but also to fall in love with my coursework, do research, teach, lead clubs, and more. I wanted a lot of things that were probably unattainable together, but I wanted to do it all or die trying. And I think this is somewhat popular of a goal that while for some may seem attainable, only flared my anxiety and made it difficult to breathe.
Once the world shut down, that’s when I took my first deep breath. It forced me to recognize that I couldn’t have control over much at all. For example, I had planned to teach a computer science camp over the summer. This camp got canceled. I had plans to go to Cancun and Toronto as part of a business competition in which my team was representing Rutgers. This event became virtual. School wasn’t going too great either. As someone who’s never been great at learning languages, my French class became unbearably difficult once we had to start speaking French over Zoom. There were a lot of periods where I felt lost but had been trying to pick up all of the pieces in order to start working my butt off again.
At a certain point, I realized that I don’t have control over anything and that I should just lower my expectations. This sounds kind of depressing, but is what actually helped me to achieve more. I started to take it one day at a time and one step at a time. I broke down the goals that I had into smaller chunks and accomplished one chunk at a time. In the end, I was actually able to accomplish the majority of the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year without even coming close to having to “die trying”. Specifically, I was happier because I was in a better place academically, socially, and mentally and I was richer because I gained opportunities that were previously unimaginable even at the beginning of the year, some of which paid. Most of all, I felt finally more at peace than I had for years. All in all, I can’t believe it’s taken a pandemic to help me recognize all of this, but investing in my mentality has yielded academic, professional, and personal results that I could never have expected.
I’ve invested a lot into my relationships this year because I continue to experience just how important they are. After unexpectingly moving home in March, I’ve really prioritized my communities. Living with my family and quarantining together, I’ve been so grateful for all of our time together. In seeing my friends on FaceTime and from 6 feet away, I’ve been reminded of how much I need them. Even with the friends who I talk to once a year, this year's reunions have been so different have taught me to cherish those connections as well. The strangers I’ve met online over the last year who have turned into really amazing friends, connections, mentors are also just as important for me to have invested in. All of these people have played a huge part in my personal growth this year and for that I am so grateful.
As a result of this year of investing in my relationships, I now wholeheartedly believe two things about the people you surround yourself with. 1.) You are the average of the people closest to you. and 2.) I can get through practically anything if I have a supportive community. There have been certain instances where I have seen these two points animated right before my eyes, and that’s why I choose to trust in them. These ideas help me to choose my friends carefully and remind me every day to be grateful for the people who love me. Throughout 2020, I have been constantly reminded of how important each and every one of my relationships is and how much everyone means to me.
One of the first steps to prioritizing myself was investing in my health. This year, I’ve tried out so many different workout and diet plans in order to find what works and what doesn’t work. Spoiler alert: it’s different for everyone! By investing time and effort and patience into my routines, I’ve become much healthier. For example, I’ve realized the importance of drinking a lot of water in how I feel and how dairy makes me very bloated.
I stopped going to the gym to pretend like I was fit and in an effort to look better when I go out. But the transition didn’t just happen like that. Actually, I didn’t one day realize the toxicity of going to the gym for vanity. I just stopped going to the gym altogether because, well, they shut down. Yet, although this transition was tough at first, it was really good for me in the end. It forced me to work out at home for nobody but myself. There was no one who cared if I was pretending to be healthy and no social events I had to dress up for and hence no clothes I had to fit into. Over the last couple of months, I’ve realized how much I actually enjoy working out for the sake of working out and for how I feel rather than how I look. It’s become such a stress reliever during stressful times and one of my favorite daily activities. Going forward, I know that vanity is something I will continue to struggle with as someone who struggles with feeling secure all of the time. But at least now I know that I can better invest in my health with the intention of living a healthier life and feeling like a stronger me.
Other noteworthy investments I made this year:
- Sleep hours
- Baking abilities
- Creative writing habits
- WFH workspace
- Technology devices
- The softest sweatshirt-sweatpant set ever!
Now I have a confession to make: I’m not even a stocks kinda gal (yet?). To be frank, I’m not nearly a money expert nor have I even made any noteworthy financial stock-related investments this year, but these investments in myself will always yield more significant results than any stock market gain.
At the end of the day, I invested a lot of time, money, effort, patience, and more into my mindset, relationships, and health this year. Given how absolutely unpredictable this year has been for all of us, I focused and worked on things I felt like I could predict and regain control over. Most importantly, I allowed myself to be selfish this year and did these things for nobody but myself! Today, I am a much happier and *slightly* richer of a woman because of these investments in myself. With that, I’m so excited to continue to make similar investments on myself (like teaching myself how to actually invest in stocks) next year and beyond!
P.S. Apologies if the title was misleading, but it’s for your own good 😌 . Happy investing!