It has been three months since 2020 started. I was not able to keep up with my yearly habit of posting year reviews due to some reasons. One primary reason behind my negligence is my disinterest in writing on this blog. I felt that it was because the old layout of this blog had been too recurrent for me. So, I decided to fix that issue before thinking about writing.
The year 2019 was not a great year for me on many fronts. It was a year that reminded me of my limitations and brought me out of the bubble, that self-help books created for me. In retrospection, I find that I started a lot of things, with the intention of learning, but couldn’t achieve any of the targets.
Like, I structure these posts every year, I have divided this post too in many sections. It makes it easier for me to focus on various aspects of my life in the past year. I will start with the best parts of my life.
I had decided to read 26 books in the year. I finished the year with 28 books. Out of 12 months, I did not read any book in January, November, and December. I finished two of the fiction series that I wanted to read for years - Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson. These two books are the reasons that I was able to finish 28 books in 9 months. It took me very little time to finish these book series. Other books (mostly non-fiction) took me ages to complete.
I am not sure if I am getting any value out of non-fiction books right now. I do not take notes and forget most of the lessons in a few days. Not sure if this is the right strategy while reading such books. Hence I have decided that I will reduce the number of non-fiction books for some time and put more attention to technical publications and CS books.
Though I am confident that my note-taking skills will not help in reading technical books either, I do hope to improve over time.
One of my reading goals from last year was to read a research paper every 15 days. I succeeded in the first quarter of the year and failed miserably after that. I started with a good intention and kept reading for some months. Then self-doubts began popping out. What value am I getting out of this?, was the question in my mind. I started this exercise because I have specific goals in my mind, and I wanted to improve myself academically. But when you are not able to answer such a question even to yourself, then something is wrong.
This failure has taught me some crucial lessons. I tend to start things without thinking about the end goal. It is the right approach when learnings from the process is more important than the result. But I was not able to focus on either of them. I lost my focus when I realized this.
I have come to understand the value of proper note-taking. I have read so many good books, but I do not remember any lessons from these books, because -
- I read passively and try to finish the book as quickly as possible.
- I did not try to implement the lessons in my day to day life while reading.
I lost my interest in reading news and blog articles also. I lost my interest from social media and, in general, the Internet entirely. I preferred to sleep as much as possible. That has its side-effects. Read on.
Blogging and Writing #
I had decided to write regularly in 2019. I didn’t. It seems that failing was a norm for me in 2019. This section was my worst hit interest in 2019. Somehow, I was not able to gather the concentration required for writing. I used to get sudden motivations for a few days, I wrote during those periods. The rest of the time, I just thought that I should write. I think I suffered from the so-called Writer’s Block.
My analysis says that all my failures last year can be traced to this section. I was sick for almost a quarter of the year. Repeatedly getting ill and the time required for recovery took a toll on my body and mind. I lost all my focus and will power to do anything.
The exercise was again an issue. I certainly put more effort than last year, but that effort was scattered throughout the year, for small periods. So, I do not notice much difference. However, I continued to walk whenever I got time.
It was not a very exciting year on the work front. I continued to work in Cisco this year. The work was neither very interesting nor very dull. The nature of my job is such that the exciting work shows up from time to time. With no fixed deadlines and no fixed way of doing things, it can be quite satisfying and quite frustrating at times.
Social Media #
I lost my interest in social media altogether. I opened Facebook only to see the notification once in a while, sometimes after months. I got disillusioned by Twitter this year, because of the toxic political content there. I was never a regular user of YouTube anyway, so that was never a concern. However, I went to great lengths to delete every Google app from my phone, especially Gmail and YouTube. The email had become a new Facebook for me. I was checking emails every 15 minutes. So I signed out of Google account in my primary browser and restricted my email activities to a secondary browser. It helped me in keeping the urge to check email in control.
But this sudden disinterest has created a void in my typical day, which is quite reasonable given how much my life depends on the Internet. I am yet to figure out how to fill this void. Reading books did not help, however sleeping and watching movies helped for sure (however, not without its own set of problems).
I was somewhat dissatisfied with myself for not traveling enough. This year, I had decided to travel extensively. But my health betrayed me. Out of 365 days, I was able to take the time of 4 days for travel. I went to Coorg and Chikmagalur with friends. Both trips happened during the wrong weather conditions. But the circumstances were such that I could not deny to my friends.
My daily routine, more or less, remained the same. Though I couldn’t wake up early in the morning most of the time, the reality is that I was not trying. My only intention behind waking up early in the morning was to meditate. I did that, however sporadically.
One other goal in 2019 was to get rid of procrastination. I did not care about it at all. Somehow, I was too busy fixing other issues in my life, that this seemed like a minor problem. Anyway, I did not attempt to do anything on a personal level, where procrastination would affect me. On the work front, at one point or another, you have to work and show results. So there it was never apparent. I tried many things to reduce the impact and influence of technology in my life. Although I consider myself successful to an extent, there is still scope for improvement.
In 2018, I was in full praise for to-do lists and the concept of maintaining goals. 2019 has busted all those praises. This year, these techniques did not work for me at all. Anyway, 2019 was one of those times when nothing worked for me, so this failure does not come as a surprise to me. Though, I still believe that this is something that can genuinely help me with some of my issues.
If I had written this post at the beginning of the year 2020, I would have written some wish for the year 2020 at this place, as I always do, but this time is so gloomy that I am not able to think of anything good. I just pray to God that everything gets all right soon.
Being with family during this time, has given me some mental stability. But, it is also true that facing such circumstances and coming out triumphant, is what shows the human character.