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2021 in review

Summary

The year 2021 has been eventful. A year of learning, travel and covid.

On technological front, I have been able to navigate the software architecture fundamentals, distributed design fundamentals, amazon web services, go language and some .NET sprinkled. It is a great new beginning. Finally I got the right inspiration to work on two of my favorite projects.

On a personal front, I went through two amazing trips through South India, got some new geek toys, and got covid in the last week of the year.

I don't have many numbers this year, but have some learnings and photos from my trips.

Learnings

Here are my most prized learnings (key concepts in bold)

  1. Embrace habits and discipline in place of motivation and productivity

    This is a self-realization that occurred several years ago and I tested it in my various short-term and long-term activities and plans. Finally, I am fully convinced of this. This ties into one of my other favorite approaches to life — Goals vs Systems.

  2. Streaks are good but spaced repetition learning is better.

    On learning platforms such as Pluralsight, you get badges for continuous learning. For example, the Back to Back 5x badge. This badge indicates that you have learned something each day for 5 days in a row. It makes you feel good. It is actually good when you want to skim something you already know or want a gain cursory knowledge on a topic. However, for deeper understanding and skill building, it is best for you to learn your topic with spaced repetition.

    To learn more about this technique, go through the Learning how to learn course on Coursera.

  3. Prepare for burnouts and avoid mini-heartaches and other mess

    I first learned of the word burnout when I worked in a startup. It took me about a decade to know that burnouts still occur despite knowing of them if they are not identified and managed earlier. Some tips include:

    1. Keep the work ticking and reduce unproductive days. This doesn't mean that you need to crank out code every single hour. Sometimes it helps to focus on those technical debt items that you have on the backlog. Sometimes you may want to work on infrastructure stuff.
    2. Plan for staggered flow moments. i.e. scheduled flow moments on your calendar. Google calendar and Microsoft Outlook now have ways to help you achieve this. Personally, instead of letting them control my time, I manually set these flow moments on a daily basis.
    3. Plan vacations way ahead of time. This is absolutely key. I suggest this to my team members always and forget to do it myself.
    4. Set boundaries. Talk to your lead or manager and let them know about your productive times, off-times. Avoid weekdays and overtimes as much as possible. Talking ahead of time about this will help you get into a good habit.
  4. Minimal exercise and portion-controlled diet will save you

    1. Morning walk, brisk walk in your jail-sized room, some pushups and pullups, and may be some weightlifting.
    2. Eat in a smaller plate, one serving. James Clear has a good thought process on this.
  5. Be paranoid about hygiene, better safe than sorry.

    1. Rethink your hygiene routine. There is always a room for improvement.
    2. In today's capitalistic and individualist societies, it is hard to convince everyone. Find better and effective ways to be hygienic, be it food or your ambient surroundings.
    3. Some people will always think you are an ass. It is okay. You cannot control their thoughts, only your actions

Some photos

Here is a few photos I liked this year.

A trip to remember. Coorg

One Coorg landscape

Family. Pamban bridge, Rameshwaram

Misc

Quotes

Some quotes, new and old, that I liked:

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. — Anatole France

It's affinity and communication, and an empathy for the human condition, that binds us all, and keeps a soul in wonder. — Homeless guy on Loudermilk

We buy shit we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't like. — George Carlin

jisko saphalta nahi mili hai na usko bewakuf nahi samajhna (Translation: Do not consider the one who has not been successful a fool.) — Manoj Bajpayee's mother

Shows

New: Loudermilk, McMafia, ZeroZeroZero, Bosch, Eastbound and down, Psych

Rewatches: The Office, IT Crowd, Vice Principals