2020 Review and 2021 Goals

Professional Life:

2020:  Adjusting to a new job can be difficult and I wanted to be sure I knew my way around the procedures before taking on extra projects.  After some reflection, I decided to take an opportunity to being a Team Lead in the Bank.  This is a procedural expert that not only help the other representatives with their calls, but also speaks with customers during escalated or complex calls.  I was put through a two-week accelerated training to learn about the various Tax Qualified and Business products.  I couldn’t wait to get started!

I was about a month into this work placement when I learned the entire department (over 1000 people) was going to be shut down by the end of the year.  Everyone reacted in a different way.  I tend to go into “focus mode” where all I can do is imagine scenarios of my future.  This is something that I do even when not in a crisis.  We later found out that most people would be easily transitioned to other parts of the larger Company.  However, I was an 8-year employee and I needed to look forward, not backwards.  I urgently applied for a number of positions and did not get a lot of responses.

About a week after this big news, we were all informed, very quickly, that we were taking our work computers, monitors, and accessories home until further notice.  This was a common story for many of us in office jobs.  I will take this moment to point out that I am very lucky to be working in an office job that was essential to the workings of the company.  You can’t run a Bank without phone support (although there are many fully digital banks that might disagree).

The entire process of applying, interviewing, and finally receiving an offer was done at home, through the various digital channels available.  I actually had a supervisor that I never met because she was also interviewing for her next job.  Five months and I never met her in-person.  I hope to remedy that when we get back into the office.  When I finally received a response, I couldn’t be happier.  In fact, I put this post on my Linkedin:

“When I achieved five years with #statefarm, I made a decision that I wanted to say with the Company. I like the culture, the customer focus, and the large-scale impact.

Almost two years ago, I decided to move to Corporate to learn about #banking and financial services.

A week before being sent home to work because of COVID-19, we all found out that Bank was not going to be part of State Farm anymore. I was filled with doubt, as I reviewed my move and worried about my future.

I applied for multiple positions and completed interviews, all the while imagining a life outside of The Farm. With more than a few declined e-mails, my self-confidence was shot.

This week, I was saved by news that a new posting was available. The hiring manager was impressed by my previous interview. I had not been impressed with my performance.

I can now share that I will be staying with State Farm inside the Life Company handling financial products.

Moral of the story: Stick with it! Have faith in a company that has treated you well and you will be rewarded. :D”

Link to Post

I completed training, along with virtual phone shadowing for my new role.  I have learned the basics of all the product types that we handle and I was even selected for a special “behind the scenes” project to ensure our customers get accurate tax documents.  I helped improve procedures in my new department as I learn.  Sometimes having new people brings a new perspective to the workflow.  

I was lucky to have people looking at for me as I was searching for my next role.  In the past, all this would have taken place with a lot of in-office/in-person experiences: mock interviews, casual conversations, tips and tricks, etc.

In 2021, I hope to work my way up to a skilled representative in my department.  I hope to be a resource for newer people that join us.  I can’t wait to join my co-workers in the office and meet everyone.  I am a technology enthusiast in many ways, but I have never believed there is a way to replace personal interactions in real life.  I understand the powerful friendships that can form online, but for me, I need that eye contact, the facial expressions, and “feel of the room”. 

Personal Life:

Finances:

2020:  I was already in the middle of some financial plans when COVID sent us hiding in our homes.  I was fortunate that I did not actually lose my job during this timeframe.  I had to move under a new department at work, but I didn’t lose any salary.  We have actually been doing overtime to accommodate a massive influx of work that came over to us a couple of months ago.  Between the Overtime and some deferments on a couple of my debts, I am holding everything steady.  I have paid my car down enough that I can just focus on my other debts for a while.

I find that I am adjusting my financial plans on a regular basis now.  One thing that I over-did this year was food delivery (the expensive kind) and donating to charities.  Honestly, we all should have a financial accountability partner that goes through our mail and tosses anything that is not already in the budget.  Obviously, that would be difficult, but I have come up with a plan to combat “guilt giving”.  On a more positive note, I did slowly save up enough to visit my family and pay for the travel in cash.  It is a nice feeling. 

2021:  I have adjusted a couple items in anticipation of the new year.  Firstly, I will save money from each paycheck until I have reached a specific dollar amount.  I have set up different “buckets” inside my savings account for various goals (i.e. Yearly Expenses, Educational, Travel).  The overall plan is to start getting to a point that I can start paying for smaller expenses with “cash”.  I am working my way up to paying off the credit card balance every month.  If I want to purchase a home before I am 40 years old, I must get serious. 

Secondly, instead of donating random amounts when I feel guilty, I have chosen 10 of my top charities/organizations and decided on a fixed monthly amount.  This way, it goes into the budget and I can ignore all other mailings.  Note: even if it is not a large amount of money, any recurring support helps the organization plan their expenses.  

Mental Health:

I’ll be the first to admit that this year was not easy on our overall health.  I had just started to make new friends right before we went into lockdown.  Over the years, I have become very comfortable spending time alone.  I watch a couple movies, write a poem, read a novel, or get absorbed into a computer game.  If it’s not the dead of winter, I enjoy a hike through the woods or just a long drive through the cornfields.  I enjoy a full day of interactions, but I just have to get away to recharge.  Being alone with my thoughts can be extremely comforting.    However, the extrovert part of me dies slowly as I start to calculate how long it will be before I can hang out with people again.  I can only hope the children of this generation are made stronger by the experience. 

In my positive mindset for my 2021, I have taken steps to avoid letting my ever-spiraling inner thoughts get the best of me.  I have put limits on my phone apps to ensure I don’t partake in “doom scrolling” or other destructive habits.  I have found several state parks that I wish to visit, which will get me outside for an extended period of time.  I have also planned a trip to see my parents.  I don’t feel grounded if I don’t visit at least once a year. 

What are you goals for 2021?  Pay off a debt?  Learn how to play an instrument?  Join a political movement?  Read a really long book?  Let me know!

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