While I highly doubt that there are more than two people who read what I write — I am looking at you, Honest and Sanjev — I thought it would still be a good idea to give my thoughts some form so that I can look back on them later. If nothing else, these sort of posts will hold me accountable and would be fun to read again after a few months or years.
The Year That Was: 2020
I had good results setting concrete goals last year, and although I didn’t complete a lot of them, it gave me a good sense of what went wrong where. As of the last day of 2020, this is what I had (unimpressively) accomplished:
- 60 out of 100 posts on Instagram.
- 6 out of 20 blog posts.
- 5 out of 20 books read.
- 859 out of 6000 pages of a book read.
- 41+ out of 500 podcast episodes listened to; I lost count after my mid-year check-in. 🤷♂️
- 0 trips or motorcycle rides.
- 1 out of 12 side projects shipped.
- 438km+ out of 1500km of walking or running.
- 0 out of 1 musical instrument learnt.
- 0 out of 1 additional language learnt.
- Many out of 30 conference videos watched; I forgot to count.
- 0 out of 50 Thirukkural learnt.
- 0 out of 4 publishable paintings or sketches.
- 0 out of 100 problems solved on an online judge.
- 0 out of 30 data structures or algorithms learnt.
- Very few out of 1000 calls to friends or extended family.
- The Secret Goal™️: Done! ✅
I swear I didn’t realise how miserable that reads until after I finished writing it now 😅
The highlight of last year was obviously the COVID-19 pandemic, which taught me a surprising lot: for the first time in a long time, I set ambitious goals and felt the true taste of wanting to better myself in every possible way. I remember telling someone that “I would probably learn more this year that I have ever in the past”, and it turned out to be true. I have always had dreams of being great, but I think this is the first time I had a sneak peek into what was truly possible if only I was willing to make it happen.
It’s true that in the darkest of times, you find light; and amidst chaos, a ladder to climb onto a better you.
1. Have stretch goals, but not impossible ones.
A lot of these goals seemed achievable at the start of the year, but like a developer coding his first program, I thought everything would work ideally. The truth is, it seldom does. I realise now that I probably had my hand in one too many pies.
Your time is finite: it’s better to pick just a few goals, achieve them first and then move on to others, instead of saying yes to everything and ending up with a set of goals that are impossible to attain.
2. Patience, my friend.
I am the kind of person that wants to do everything and try everything. When asked once if I would prefer an apartment in the city or a cabin in the woods, I said “both” 😆 I really believe that you can have everything you want. What I have come to realise last year, though, is that it would probably not happen in the time-frame I’m expecting it to.
For example, I can’t be a side-project factory, a musician, a multi-lingual, and a cross-country rider all at the same time, starting from scratch. Patience is key, and it’s not my strong suit — but I’ll get there eventually.
3. Burnout’s a bitch!
Burnout is the obvious outcome of trying to do too many things, too fast, all at once. This is an extension of lesson #2: I need to pace myself so that I can consistently be a good performer, instead of being all fireworks for two days and then dragging myself through the mud for the rest of the month.
In the words of Sivakarthikeyan, “Ulagin thalai sirantha sol, Seyal” (cue BGM here, please!). Probably the reason that I read 5 books last year is because I was pushing for 20, and I started reading the first one. Probably the reason I launched BassDrum last year is because I wanted to build 11 more things like it, and I started coding the first one.
In other words, start. And just do it. Or as Art Williams says, “Just do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, until the job gets done!”
The Year That Will Be: 2021
With all of the lessons learnt last year, my goals list for this year is shorter, and saner. In some cases, I am just going to try and “finish the race” with last year’s goals because I still believe in them. So, here we go:
- 100 total posts on Instagram. 40 more to go.
- 10 books read. I’m already half-way through a couple of them!
- 10 blog posts. This is the first one right here! 🎉
- 2 long motorcycle rides to some place I haven’t been to before.
- 24 BMI — get into shape!
- 1 additional language learnt. I’m picking Hindi.
- 100 problems solved on an online judge. The billionth time’s the charm ✌️
- 2 calls every week to a friend or family member I haven’t talked to in a while.
- 10 algorithms studied and implemented in either Python or JS.
- 1 conference talk a week. This will be mostly PyCon, but also general talks from other conferences.
- 1 frontend stack to master. I know a bit of React now, and I want to be fluent enough to build serious apps.
- 1 novel written. Publishing is a no-brainer these days with services like KDP and NotionPress. The hard part’s going to be the writing.
It’s super-difficult for me to just stop here, and a part of my brain is going “That’s it!? Add more! This isn’t everything that you want to do!” But I’m going to focus on these first, and tick all these off before looking further.
There’s a powerful scene / dialogue from The Newsroom that’s been stuck in my head ever since I watched it, and it goes something like this: “You know, in my day, we did the news right. And you know how we did it? Just because we decided to!”
Now as we enter another year full of hope, I am confident that I will grow and learn and work harder than ever — because I have just decided to be the best version of myself that I can be.