2021 - A Bullish Year
2021 was a year of realigning priorities for me. I started the year with a set of goals, expectations, and an enthusiasm to achieve these, and here I am, ending the year with entirely different objectives and perspectives. There were a few ups and downs throughout the year, but collectively, these have transformed me into a more fitter, confident, enthusiastic, and curious version of my past self.
If you read this blog regularly, you may know that I have been struggling to make health a priority in my life for the last few years. This year also started on the same note. I started with 65 kgs of weight, and by the end of July, my weight had increased to 71 kgs. I have been underweight for most of my life, but I probably became obese for the first time on the BMI scale this year. And I am not very proud of this, even though I always desired to gain some weight while growing up. I have long realized the importance of exercise in daily life but never acted on it seriously.
Nonetheless, this year I finally managed to work on it. Since September, I have reduced my weight from 71 kgs to 62 kgs. More importantly, I could bring my BMI down to an optimum level.
Another important aspect of health that I am working on is sleep. For some years now, I have been working on regulating my sleep timings and the time I spend sleeping at night. I have data about my sleep duration for the entire year. Using that, I produced the chart below, which shows that I have managed to sleep at least 8 hours on average (this also includes afternoon naps).
One of my last year's goals was -
Sleep at proper times - … I will try to sleep by 10 PM and sleep for at least 8 hours every day. I am aiming for an 80% success rate in this aspect.
I feel that I have managed to achieve this goal with a good level of accuracy.
This year, I completed three years in Cisco. It has been a wonderful experience. However, I had a feeling that I should move on and start exploring the industry from a different perspective. So, I decided to go back to the interview table. In 2022, I will be joining a late-stage US-based cloud-security startup. I will write a separate post describing my experience preparing and attending the interviews.
I had to make a rather tough decision about my career this year. When I was preparing for GATE, I also decided to take the ISRO exam. The idea was to get some additional practice from the GATE perspective. After clearing the written test and the interviews, I got an all-India rank of 30 in the exam. As a result, I was offered a Group-A post of Scientist in NRSC Hyderabad. However, it didn't align with my vision and plans for the future, so I decided to decline the offer. I hope to write a long-overdue post about my experience with this sometime in 2022.
The fact that I could not post this review on the first day of the year is a testament that I am struggling with writing. I am not in the proper mindset to write anything. I have tried to start small, but writing even a single sentence seems like a burden. Throughout 2021, I had a nagging feeling that I should write, but I couldn't find the enthusiasm to sit down and get going. Unfortunately, I don't even see myself writing anytime in the foreseeable future.
I notice that the procedure used to publish anything on this blog is very complex. Unlike WordPress, I have to battle with markdown, git, code editor, etc., to publish a post and make subsequent updates. The complexity associated with the static sites seems to have created a block in my mind. Unfortunately, developing a new website is no longer a priority for me. And I am not yet ready to accept the tradeoff between spending money on WordPress hosting and the comfort of writing in Wordpress's editor.
I planned to journal regularly in 2021. I started with that, but soon it turned into a logbook kind of activity. Instead of introspecting over my day, I started tracking each hour of the day, which was not the intention. So around July, I stopped doing it.
I had set a target to read five books this year. I completed that goal. I read a lot of PDFs this year, which can't be classified as books, so my reading statistics are very much skewed for the year. However, I didn't plan properly this year, so my efforts seem scattered and unfocused.
To be very honest, I was distracted throughout the year by the continuous flooding of information. My tendency to do everything with perfection further made things complicated. Another troubling issue was my resistance to making notes or summarising the books I read. I consider this an important activity because I find it challenging to recall otherwise.
I dabbled with Zettlekasten for some time this year. It is an exciting idea, but the time required to set it up is a big hurdle. It takes considerable effort to summarise a piece of knowledge, link it with other information, and then revise all of it. I may not be ready for it yet, but I will be trying it again in 2022 because I am very confident about the potential of this system.
I have reduced (or stopped) my Twitter usage to minimize information overload. I felt that passively reading others' views distorts my thinking and ability to generate original ideas. Although I am not really producing any exciting ideas, I want to keep my mind clean and free from distraction as much as possible.
I logged my sleep data, work schedules, perceived productivity levels, perceived sleep efficiency, mobile usage patterns, etc., in a Google Sheet document. However, around mid-year, I started to get impatient with the whole manual setup and stopped logging my data. So, unfortunately, I don't have any way to analyze all these patterns now. I am totally disappointed with the lack of any standard tool that can collect at least mobile usage data while also ensuring privacy. Rescue time is something I have thought about, but I cannot convince myself to use that app due to privacy issues.
Below are my media consumption habits from 2021 -
For some reason, I watched a lot of content in the last two months of 2021. Possible reasons may be my acceptance of the new job offer or my truce with the weather. For whatever reason, I consider this year a controlled one in the binge-watching department.
- Build muscles - Now that my weight is at an appropriate level, it is time for me to build some muscles.
- Read 24 books - I plan to read 24 books this year. I am yet to decide if I want to focus on a particular subject or diversify my reading.
- Phone usage - Planning to keep it under 3 hours. However, I need to figure out how to export this data out of my phone.
As you might have noticed, most of my failures in 2021 have something to do with my habit of doing things perfectly. While it is good to perform any task as cleanly as possible, it sometimes becomes a big hurdle in starting up. In 2022, I hope to keep this tendency at bay as much as possible.