Revisiting My 2020 Goals From Before the Pandemic

Dandelion Square’s iconic clocktower, taken on my first day of classes in January 2020


As the New Year begins, I recently started reflecting on my New Year’s resolutions. Towards the end of 2019, I was thrilled a new decade was soon to commence. So, in honor of 2020, I settled on 20 random goals to accomplish during the year—from trying out new activities to focusing on personal growth—and while I wasn’t sure what would be in store for me, I definitely wasn’t expecting all the turns this year took!

Although not everything came to fruition, I thought it’d be fun to revisit my progress on the goals I set during pre-pandemic times. In no particular order, I’ve chosen to highlight the 10 goals I most connected with my experience as a University of Rochester student:

My headache frequency thus far

1. Track my health

I started having headaches when I was around 16, and although they occurred less frequently in college, I wondered if there were any patterns to explain what provoked them. This year I decided to document when I had headaches to investigate.

With only 11 months of data I’m not sure I can draw any obvious conclusions, but I graphed the results above out of curiosity. The numbers were slightly more interesting than expected, since I started having headaches a bit more often again, and I did notice my happiest month was the only one without any headaches. However, my CIS220 class taught me not to read too much into sketchy data visualizations, so I’ll take this information with a grain of salt!

2. Journal more often

In 2019 I started a gratitude journal, where every Sunday I’d jot down something I was thankful for during the week. I loved looking back on those entries later, so I continued doing that in 2020, along with journaling more in general. As an English major, it’s been a pleasure to follow through with this goal!

3. Volunteer somewhere

Back in high school, community service was one of my biggest commitments outside of school. However, after starting college, I spent more time on other activities, and unfortunately volunteering was no longer a regular part of my schedule. As a result, I hoped to volunteer somewhere this year.

In particular, the place I had in mind was Camp Okizu, where my family and I made great memories during my childhood. Due to COVID-19 I couldn’t volunteer there this summer, and it was devastating to hear the campsite burnt down in the California wildfires in September.

Although I didn’t volunteer in the way I originally planned, I’m glad I could still get involved in UR’s Cancer Awareness Club, which aims to fundraise and increase community awareness for cancer. That being said, I still want to give back to Okizu, so I hope to do that in some capacity in the future.

Paper cranes from a fun day with family!

4. Find a new hobby

For this resolution, I attempted to revive my interest in origami from middle school. Before heading back to campus in January, I had a fun time making cranes with my grandparents and aunt (our masterpieces shown above!), and during my brief stint on campus this spring, I made some “DIY” dorm decor by sewing paper cranes to a set of string lights.

Admittedly this hobby dropped off once quarantine began, but I enjoyed trying it out again!

5. Reach out to others

Although, being in quarantine, I didn’t meet a ton of new people this year, I still worked on getting more comfortable reaching out to others. I used to be pretty nervous about initiating plans or contacting people, but it’s gotten much easier with practice. Especially at a school like UR with so many nice people in our community, I don’t want to miss out on getting to know new friends!

6. Practice cooking over the summer

On campus I used to eat at dining halls all the time, and despite the stigma around college dining hall food, I actually think UR has some great options! Since cooking is a pretty essential skill, though, I wanted to learn how to cook more meals this summer. Now, I can reluctantly declare I did not accomplish this goal. Whenever I cooked, I typically stuck to my staple dishes like scrambled eggs or mac and cheese. Sadly, it would feel like a cop-out to count this resolution as complete!

My desk layout at home

7. Clean my room

One of my more attainable goals this year was cleaning my room. Coming home in March to take classes online gave me that extra push to reorganize my workspace, and since I continued taking classes remotely from home this year, I’ve been motivated to keep it pretty tidy.

8. Grow in confidence

Similar to my goal of reaching out to others, I wanted to work on becoming more confident in general. To me, this mainly meant not holding myself back from exploring opportunities and getting more comfortable being assertive.

This year, I think my confidence grew the most through my summer job. I’m lucky I worked for a company that really respects and empowers interns, and this gave me the chance to challenge myself and be proud of the work that I did. (If you’re curious, I touched on my internship experience here as well!) Overall, I’m happy with the progress I made on this goal!

The side to SF not shown on Zoom (2019)

9. Visit San Francisco

Since I live near San Francisco this goal seemed pretty achievable—I figured I’d just have to find an occasion to justify braving the SF traffic—but once the pandemic hit, I lost interest in completing this due to crowds. However, one of the default Zoom backgrounds is the Golden Gate Bridge, so it’s cool to vicariously visit SF sometimes!

10. Do more favors for friends/family

I’ve always tried to treasure people that I’m close with, so I hope to keep it as a permanent priority to not take my loved ones for granted. I’ve been at home since March, so I’ve definitely felt closer to my immediate family, but I’ve also done my best to make my other loved ones happy from afar and be a positive addition to people’s lives.


While 2020 was certainly an unprecedented year, I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned and the people that made this year special. Although I have no clue what 2021 will bring, one thing I know for sure is I’ll still be grateful to be a Yellowjacket. I can’t wait to see our community reunited in person!

About the author

Carolyn Richter

Hi! I’m a member of the Class of 2022 majoring in marketing and creative writing with minors in journalism and legal studies. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I’m thrilled to share my experiences about the second home I’ve found at the University of Rochester. On campus I participate in the Campus Times, Forté Campus, Cancer Awareness Club, and Hatha Yoga Club.

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