Los Angeles, CA

21 Things I Will or Won’t Do in 2021

Ryan Porter


Photo courtesy of the author

2021 isn’t the year of the revolution but rather a year to rebuild.

I’m not here to rant about 2020.

Yes, it was an awful year for many reasons. I miss my friends, and I’m tired of hiding in my parents’ house, but that’s just the deal.

It’s the reality that I live with, and 2021 isn’t going to automatically fix it.

We still have a long way to go, even though we can see some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.

First of all, these aren’t New Year’s Resolutions. The goal isn’t to track goals meticulously. None of us need that kind of stress in our lives right now. 2021 isn’t the year of the resolution.

It should be a year dedicated to rebuilding.

I do, however, feel like I’ve progressed over the past year.

  • I’ve learned to slow down and to appreciate small moments.
  • I rebalanced my eating habits.
  • I adjusted to a gym-less society.
  • I rekindled a love affair with writing.

I’ve taken the time to reflect, work, relax, and progress. I’ve done a lot, and I’m sure you have to, whether you know it or not.

I look forward to what this year has to offer. I want to return to normal, in the sense that I am able to travel freely and see my friends whenever I want to.

If I fail to do any of these, so be it. It’s not important. What matters to me is that I attempt these things at the very least.

1. Take more photos.

Photography, to me, is more than aesthetically pleasing pictures. A picture is a moment, and every moment has a story to tell.

I could pull up any photo I’ve taken and tell you the story behind it.

In 2020, I turned a blind eye to photography. I let go of my one true passion for a bit, but no more. I’m determined to pick back up where I was, shoot more product photos, and travel more often.

I already have a small product shoot lined up in the beginning of the year, and I plan on doing more to supplement some income.

2. Read when I can.

I’m not making any promises to myself. I always tell myself I’ll read more, but I don’t live up to the promise. I did learn something this year though.

I’ve found that I’m more inspired to write the more I read.

But it’s difficult to read on a daily basis.

After a long day, reading is one of the last things I want to do. I want to chill in bed and watch Schitt’s Creek because it’s mindless.

I promise to read when I can. This way, when I inevitably don’t read one book a month, I won’t feel like a failure. It’s an achievable goal.

When I read a whole book, it’ll be like I’m surprising myself. It’ll feel like an accomplishment instead.

3. Save money until I move out.

Again, I’m not putting pressure on myself. I live with my parents and that’s okay. The pandemic taught me to be patient with myself, and the world.

It’s no one’s fault that I’m here. In fact, it’s paid off big time. I’ve never saved this much money, I just had to sacrifice a little privacy.

It’s not like I can go to bars in the attempt of getting lucky anyway. What’s the point of paying $1,200 a month to split the cost of a Los Angeles apartment.

I’m cozy where I’m at. Most importantly, I’m extremely fortunate to have parents who support me. Not everyone can say that for themselves.

Besides, my mom wants me to live here forever, and it would break her heart if I left again (so she says).

4. Work more by working less.

In 2021, I won’t work Fridays at my day job (at least for now).

I’m stoked. I literally haven’t been this excited in a long time.

The reason I’m so excited is that I’m finally comfortable with taking a leap, though it’s a small one.

I’m not quitting my job out-right. That would be fiscally irresponsible of me. Actually, I’ll be making more money than I used to.

That’s because I plan on using that precious time to work on my writing and photography. I have a great feeling about the future, and an opportunity to really double-down on product photography.

I was also accepted to the News Break Creator program, and that’ll only add to my monthly income.

5. Drink wine with my friends.

God, I miss wine Wednesdays. I used to go to my buddy’s apartment to try out his latest selection of Italian wines. We were younger, we didn’t have a care in the world.

We talked about our days, the future, girls, movies, memories, and basketball.

I miss being together with my friends. Get-togethers don’t happen often now, but when they do, I appreciate the hell out of them.

6. Wear blue-light glasses before bed.

Thanks for the reminder. I’m going online to find a pair right now.

Should I go for a round or square frame?

Harvard Health Publishing says that blue light affects your sleep patterns.

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours)

Recently, I’ve been staying up late playing video games or watching too many episodes of, you guessed it, Schitt’s Creek.

I think it’s preventing me from falling asleep quickly and I’m waking up more often.

Honestly, I think I’ll look pretty good in a pair or spectacles. I’ve been told that I can pass with any pair of glasses on. I think it’s time to give some non-prescription eyeglasses a try. It literally could not hurt.

7. Play a ton of video games.

Alright, back to games. It may prevent me from sleeping, but I won’t be giving it up anytime soon. I managed to get a Playstation 5, by the way.

The pandemic actually renewed my enthusiasm for gaming.

I used to think gaming was a waste of my time.

I was wrong. Gaming actually gave me a sense of community in a time where we couldn’t see other people face to face.

8. Cook for myself.

For the past five months, the only day I’ve eaten out is on Saturdays. We have a routine in our household. We cook five meals a week, eat leftovers on Fridays, and pick up food on Saturdays.

I’m a pretty healthy eater, and my influence has taken over the family meals.

Luckily, my parents are awesome cooks, and their passion for cooking has transferred over to me as well.

It is possible to eat good tasting food and still be in a calorie deficit.

When you’re in a calorie deficit, you eat less calories than your body burns. If you stay in a calorie deficit over a period of time, your body will transform.

I’m the leanest I’ve ever been, and I did it in a pandemic.

I don’t say that to brag. My point is that no matter the situation, even if your gym goes out of business, there’s a way to adjust your lifestyle in order to achieve your goals.

I lost weight, and retained muscle mass, by eating high quality, high volume, low-calorie foods. Cooking my own meals, and eating the dinners my parents prepared, got me there.

9. Love, not hate.

This year has really brought out the true colors in people. Regardless of other’s opinions, it’s crucial to treat them with respect.

Most people don’t see the big picture. Some people only hang with a certain crowd. When you hang with one crowd, you only see life through one lens.

Photographers keep all kinds of lenses in their camera bag. They do this to capture all sorts of moments. It’s not possible to take every photo with a 50mm.

Some capture moments through the same lens, and they never learn from the perspective of others.

I’m comfortable with my 35mm, so even I struggle. What matters is effort. As long as you try to love others, you’re at least trying.

10. Read Big Sur.

I read The Road by Jack Kerouac this year, and I was left more curious than when I started.

It was an oddly difficult, yet easy read. Kerouac hopped himself up on benzedrine and typed like a crazy person for over two weeks.

The final result was a 120-foot long scroll, without any paragraph indentations, that told the story his three trips across the country.

I’m not saying I want to be like him, but his approach definitely made me a better writer.

The Road reminded me of my own travels with my friends. Like Kerouac, we have done some dumb stuff in other places. It’s the moments when you walk the tightrope of life that make for the best memories.

Big Sur is just another book in the long line of beatnik stories I wish to read. It’s calling to me from my shelf right now.

11. Run 150 miles.

The mind, body, and spirit are all equal entities to me. The body is the most important. It’s the vessel you must live with your entire life.

Like your mind and spirit, your body can change. The problem is that changing your body is a pain in the ass, but only if you think about it that way.

I started running more often during the pandemic. It didn’t become an obsessive hobby, but it became a staple of my workout routine.

150 miles might be underselling myself too.

At the time of writing, I’ve ran 9.5 miles in the past week. That’s a crazy stat to me. At that rate, I’ll run 494 miles in 2021.

The cool thing about setting the bar low is, again, that I’ll probably surprise myself and run more.

12. Step foot in the gym.

I miss the gym, bro.

My local gym, the place I’ve worked out in since high school, went out of business due to the pandemic.

It hurts, but I’ve made due. My buddy and I have a nice garage setup. It gets the job done, but it’s not the same.

For reasons I don’t have to explain, I wouldn’t feel safe going to a regular gym right now anyway.

One day next year, I’ll enter an iron temple, but I can wait for now.

13. Write 156 (good) articles.

I’m writing three articles a week right now. I’m still learning to write well though. I’m taking one day a week off work to take my writing to the next level.

I started writing again because of Medium. I was a journalism major in college, and I was an editor for my university’s daily paper.

I wrote sports, but I didn’t like it. Writing sports actually drove me further from pursuing a career as a journalist.

I’m passionate about sports. I’m a hardcore Lakers and Dodgers fan (maybe that’s why 2020 wasn’t so bad), but I don’t like writing about it. Who would’ve thought?

Fine-tuning my content is important to me. I have a nice writing process that I treat like a routine. It allows me to write effortlessly.

My goal is to keep writing three articles a week. If I do that for 52 weeks, I’ll write a total of 156 blog posts. The nice thing is I’m not stressed about it. I’ll take things a week at a time.

14. Visit a new state.

I love traveling in this country, but there are many states I haven’t been to. Wyoming, Montana, and Washington are just a few I’m dying to see.

I live as far west as you can get. I live about a mile and a half from the ocean. I’m lucky, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love to getaway.

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” — John Muir

There’s a lot to see in this country. In due time, we’ll be able to travel freely.

Do you have any recommendations?

15. Go on another backpacking trip.

In line with visiting a new state, I want to take a next-level backpacking trip.

Two summers ago, I hiked the Trans-Catalina trail. Last summer, I went on a three-night backpacking trip in the eastern Sierras.

There’s nothing like hiking all day to a destination, pitching a tent, and taking it down the very next morning.

Backpacking builds character like no other.

16. Support my friends’ ambitions.

Most of my friends are entrepreneurs. They tattoo, sell products, or act as academic consultants.

I want to do a better job of promoting my friends’ work. They deserve it for supporting me, and sharing their Instagram posts is the least I can do.

I shared my buddy’s post on my own feed the other day and he was incredibly thankful for it. Again, it’s the least I can do for him.

17. Appreciate little moments.

Here’s something new I tried this year. It’s something I’ll never take for granted again. Small moments, like getting together with friends, even if it’s socially distanced, mean the world.

We’ve spent countless Friday and Saturday nights alone. It’s been difficult, and rather unusual. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a thing of the past since nobody does anything anymore.

I’m an introvert at heart, but sometimes, I really want to be around people.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be in a restaurant full of people without worrying about catching a virus.

Little moments, like running down to the beach to catch the sunset, or spending a few nights in an Airbnb just to get away, are really what I get excited about nowadays.

18. Find time for solitude.

We’ve all had plenty of alone time this year. Alone time is the best time, but you only need so much of it. I get anxious if I’m left alone for too long.

I need a night to myself to binge a show on Hulu like everyone else, but I need attention every now and then.

2021 is going to be different. I can only imagine how many events, functions, and cook-outs there are going to be to make up for lost time. It’s going to be a doozy, and moments of solitude will be a rare treat.

With that in mind, I’m planning for some off nights. I can’t wait to see everyone I’ve missed over the past year, but some nights will call for rest.

19. Invest in myself.

I started investing this year. I actually lucked out. I got in after the market dropped earlier this year. I deposited money at a slow pace. I want to put in more, but I need to uphold my strategy.

I plan on investing in more ways than one, as putting money into shares of stocks isn’t the only way to invest.

  • Taking writing courses to write well.
  • Reading my favorite bloggers' eBooks.
  • Exercising often and eating well so my body has the energy to work.
  • Easing off on work for mental recovery time.
  • Buying a 2021 calendar to stay on top of my tasks.

20. Travel to another country.

Iceland is at the top of my list.

It’s a magical place with alluring fjords and glaciers that I must see.

When we can, my friends and I plan on traveling all across the country. My dream is to hop in a jeep and drive from town to town across the coast.

It’s a goal, but if it doesn’t happen this year, then perhaps the next.

21. Hang with friends who elevate each other.

I write about my friends quite a bit.

It’s because they inspire me and they don’t even have to try.

You see, I’m fortunate to have a base group of friends to rely on. When I’m down, for any reason, they pick me up.

This year, we’ve grown closer even though we’ve been farther apart. We trained for this. We stayed in touch throughout college when we went to different universities.

Now, instead of hitting bars or seeking adventures, we play video games. We hear each other’s voices each night, so it’s almost like we see each other everyday. Almost…

Next year will change that.

Once life returns to normal, we’ll fall back into our almost-forgotten social lives. It’s inevitable. We’re going to be around more people than just ourselves.

The opportunity to meet new people is exciting, but I’m skeptical.

Not everyone wants to build you up. Some people will look at your talents, or whatever you have to offer, and they’ll take advantage of it.

It’s a natural part of life, especially in LA. That’s why having a base group of friends you trust is so important. You can rely on them to help you.

Not only that, but they support your visions.

If they’re just as excited about your side-hustles as you are, then those friends are keepers. You can tell because they push you to keep going even when you’re having an off day, or off month.

Jan. 1st, 2021

Remember, one day doesn’t change anything. We’ll still be in a pandemic, so step lightly. Stay safe and healthy. We’re almost through this.

Stay focused, but enjoy the little moments as you encounter them.

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I write about startup culture, productivity, and life's moments. My goal is to serve as a teacher for the next generation of content creators.

Los Angeles, CA

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