Making room in my weekly schedule for deep work is a deliberate choice for me. I believe it is important to take time out of your schedule to think about the day, months, and years ahead. This activity allows me to make very deliberate decisions about my life.

This time of year, the holiday season, is when I spend more time than normal doing deep work. In fact, part of the reason I look forward to this time of year is because of the deep work and decisions about the direction of my life that come out of this season.

In order to make those decisions I find it critical to think through the internal and external factors that could impact my personal and professional lives during the upcoming year and beyond.

I want to share with you what those factors are and how I am thinking about them.

The coronavirus is NOT eradicated

Just this week two vaccine companies, Pfizer and Moderna, announced that they had passed the third phase of trials for their vaccines. Both companies reported an efficacy of greater than 94%. Meaning that the vaccine works for 94 out of 100 people. For a reference point, my understanding is that a typical flu vaccine has an efficacy of less than 70%.

On that news the stock markets moved up in value demonstrating an increase in consumer confidence that the virus would be beaten in short order. If you listen to most of the “experts” they believe that mass vaccination will not have begun until the third or fourth quarter of 2021. The good news is that at such high efficacy rates the coronavirus would essentially be eradicated. That is if the strain doesn’t mutate…

So, what?

If you search Google for “” there are a plethora of qualified sources that agree the coronavirus is already mutating. Which means, like the flu, we are unlikely to completely eradicate the coronavirus.

That is ok. We live with the flu every year. With a vaccine in place that can help reduce the impact of the coronavirus we should be able to get back to some level of normalcy.

In your personal and professional lives you should plan on things continue about like they have until late into 2021. In fact, I expect things to get worse before they get better. Accept that is likely the case and make your plans accordingly. If you are a business owner, especially one in the industries that are affected the most like entertainment, hospitality, and restaurants you need to be stockpiling as much cash reserves as possible and making plans to pivot your business model as possible to create or sustain alternative income streams.

Further stimulus

As we neared the election it seemed like any hope of a second round of stimulus started to dry up. At least temporarily. I suspect there were a few factors (political positioning, coronavirus cases were moderate, and many economic factors weren’t looking too bad) that played a role in that pause.

Unfortunately, things aren’t so good as I write this. While factors such as unemployment aren’t as high as they had been, its down to 6.9%, things still don’t look that great. On November 20th we hit almost 200,000 new cases. Which leads me to believe we may further shutdowns. Particularly in key areas or cities.

So, what?

My sense of things is that is the case count is still relatively high once President-Elect Biden gets into office in January that he very well may order some more drastic measures than President Trump has been willing to institute. To offset that I believe that the Biden administration will push further stimulus through Congress. I believe that could include extended unemployment benefits and another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small-business owners.

The stock market

I enjoy trading in the stock market. I’ve dabbled at it for years but got more serious about making regular investments this year. Over the last two months my portfolio is up 32%.

I believe that 2021 will be good for the markets. In fact, between the additional stimulus I see coming early in the year and the potential positive impact of the many coronavirus vaccines that are nearing the end of their testing phases I think we could see a very healthy economy and therefore stock market by the middle to late third quarter.

So, what?

If you are an active investor then 2021 could be very good for you. Looking at the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index and the S&P 500 Index I believe both will continue moving up. We might see a small pull back once the Biden administration gets into the White House as investors cautiously wait to see what types of policies they put forward. But, I believe in the end the markets will respond favorably.

In fact, I believe the Dow will break through the 30,000 mark and maybe even hit 32,000 before the end of the year. I also believe the S&P 500 will hit the 4,000 mark during 2021.

Plant-based diets keep trending

My wife has been a vegetarian for around fifteen years. When she first went to a plant-based diet the alternatives weren’t so great. That just isn’t the case anymore. In fact, my brother and sister-in-law has gone plant-based as well. While I am not a full-time vegetarian I have moved more toward a plant-based diet over the past few years to where about only one of every three meals involves meat.

The plant-based industry began moving closer to mass market adoption in 2021. Especially with the rising popularity of brands such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat.

So, what?

For folks who are interested in a plant-based diet the number and quality of vegetarian/vegan options will continue to expand in 2021.

From a business perspective I see the plant-based industry as having a lot of opportunity for entrepreneurs. There are already some leveraging its popularity but I think there will be an increasing number of businesses built around the adoption of plant-based diets in 2021.

I’m a former C-level banking exec. and 3x startup founder leading a corporate innovation/product team and have helped companies raise over $500M in funding.