2018 in Review

Posted on — | 8 min read

2018 went by really quick. It was one of the more eventful years - packed with activities, travel, new hobbies, experiences and accomplishments. I have been following James Clear and Tim Ferris for a long time now and their posts about past year review have been the inspiration behind this blog post.

I don’t like setting goals, but rather invest my time in building habits, as I feel they’re more sustainable and long term rather than having an end point that brings me a lot of anxiety while approaching the due date. I like small incremental progress on a daily basis than few days of powering through a task that ends up half-baked. Having said that, I do like to identify few areas I want to focus on to at least head in a general direction to form a habit.

Here are some of the goals (or habits) I had planned for 2018:

  • Practice guitar
  • Read more books
  • Update blog more regularly
  • Learn yoga
  • Eat fruits every day
  • Practice mindfulness

What went well

The first thing I did was to maintain a list called 2018 Highlights. I did this to keep track of the main events that happened to me in 2018, as a look back to see how it went. This list contained things that I tried for the first time, or something outside the ordinary, memorable activities and accomplishments. Here are some of more noteworthy ones from my list:

  • Finished Level 1 of Japanese on Memrise
  • Picked up Origami
  • Picked up Chess (and solving Chess puzzles)
  • Picked up Rubiks cube and got pretty good at it
  • Started meditating every day (325 days and counting)
  • Deleted my Facebook account
  • 7 hikes
  • 3 half marathons
  • 2 10Ks
  • 1 full marathon

Besides this list, here’s a little more on how I did with my goals

Read more books

I read 27 books in 2017 and I wanted to read more than that in 2018. Due to other commitments, I didn’t hit that mark. I did have phases where I’d read books every day and there were weeks where I didn’t read them. But I got to read lot of good books on various topics like Physics, Philosophy, Biology, Biographies, and Running. Here’s a list of books I read in 2018.

Learn yoga

I started doing yoga at the rock climbing gym that I was going to. I started with Yin Yoga and fell in love with it. I did it very regularly for few months. I had to stop when I was training for my marathon, since there wasn’t enough time to fit climbing, yoga, strength training and 5 days of running in my 7 day schedule. However, I’m back to yoga and climbing after taking a 3-month break. Trying Vinyasa now just to see how it is. This is a habit that I plan to continue as I’m already seeing the benefits it has on my body.

Eat fruits every day

This was decided on a whim when I realized I wasn’t eating a lot of fruits. I wanted to have a healthy diet, but always missed out on fruits due to laziness. I succeeded in this by incorporating fruits at different parts of my diet, most of them being part of my breakfast smoothie.

Practice Mindfulness

Sometime in March, I was reading some blog and I came across Headspace. I had heard of it before, but I never bothered trying it because I was not very interested in guided meditations. This time I thought I’ll bite the bullet and give it a shot, and bought a yearly subscription. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made recently as it helped me meditate better and be more mindful. My run streak in the app says 325 days and I’ve been doing it either as soon as I wake up, or during my commute or sometimes before I go to sleep or whenever I have some time during the day.

Running

2018 was probably the best year for running. The year started off with my getting back to running after my knee injury (and couple of months of physical therapy). Starting off with 10 minute runs on the treadmill, I ended up doing my first half marathon in March. And it only got better after that. Here’s all the runs I did in 2018:

  • March: Mercer Island Half Marathon (1h 53m)
  • April: 10K Autism Run (53m 28s)
  • May: Mother’s Day Half Marathon (1h 59m)
  • June: Seattle Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon (1h 48m)
  • July: 10K Trail Run (55m)
  • October: Snohomish River Run Full Marathon (4h 16m)

I’m planning to run more this year. Let’s see how it goes.

Daily Journaling

This is something I was never interested in until last year. But I thought of giving it a shot. I did it for an entire year and I don’t regret it, I still do it. I realized the importance of putting my thoughts down. It helped me think more clearly and the habit of doing it every day makes me reflect on my days from a different perspective. I use the app Daylio which captures the activity and mood as well, and it gives a nice graph every week to see how the past week went.

What didn’t go well

As much as I enjoyed reading books, doing yoga and running a lot, there were goals that I missed. Here are some of them:

Practice Guitar

I wanted to make this a regular habit, but never got around to it. There were phases - couple of weeks of every day practice and then couple of months of nothing, mainly due to work commitments. Things just got hectic and I stopped playing guitar. This is something I want to work on. To keep the practice consistent, even if I’m playing for few minutes every other day. It’s a good stress-buster.

Blog Regularly

This is the worst of all. Never made a single blog post in the entire year, even though I had it as a goal. It’s mostly due to the problem of inertia. It’s so hard for me to get started on simple tasks, or tasks that only take few minutes. But once I start, I’ll have enough momentum to finish it off. Hope I blog more often this year.

Side Quests

Besides the goals I had, there were few things I picked up during the year. Mainly because I somehow got interested in them long enough to actually commit a good chunk of time learning it.

  • Rubiks Cube: My best time to solving a 3x3x3 is about 2m 15s now. Planning on improving it :)
  • Kendama: My friend got Kendama at work and I was fascinated by it. I bought one for myself and ended up learning few tricks.
  • Origami: Made some cool stuff like DNA, Hyperbolic Paraboloid, Tangram, etc.
  • Level 1 of Japanese on Memrise: Decided to learn a new language - Japanese. Finished Level 1 on Memrise. Will pick it up later this year.
  • Side projects with Raspberry Pi: Set up Pi-Hole (a network-wide ad-blocking software). Also tried setting up a voice assistant using snips.ai. Couldn’t get the speaker to work, but everything else worked fine.
  • Picked up drawing: This was a one-off thing where I saw a Medium post about a Quick Beginner’s Guide to Drawing that involved hand workouts for pencil sketching and I just did those. Things like, filling up a page with circles and another one with hatched lines. Turned out pretty good, but never continued it.

What I learned

With all the things I did and didn’t do, here are the lessons I learned in 2018:

You’re never ready, just go for it

I learned this from my running. Beginning of the year, I never thought of doing a half marathon (which I did in March), let alone doing a full marathon. After my friend forced me to sign up, I thought I’ll do it even if I sucked at it. And it went pretty well, for my first time - did it in under 2 hours. Same with running a full marathon in October. I thought I’m not ready for a full. But I also thought I shouldn’t regret later. And it was pretty good time (4h 16m) for a first timer :)

Don’t underestimate the training

This one again comes from running. I finished my first full marathon in just over 4 hours, but looking back I see hundreds of hours of running, hundreds of miles of running, lot of IT band issues, hurt ankles, hurt everything. There were many times I lost hope during training, especially when I hurt my IT band during the run and then end up limping for the next two days. But it’s that rigorous training that helped me do well in the actual event. What I got out of it is that if you’re going for something big, you’ll need to train a lot, you’ll need to put in the hours. Not every day will turn out the way you want. There will be good days. There will be bad days. And there will definitely be shitty days. You just got to persist.

Try to increase your circle of competence

Circle of Competence Theory developed by Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger is something I believe in and strive to live every day. The more you learn and expand your knowledge, the more you realize you don’t know enough. Try to learn new things outside your domain. This will help you think with new perspectives and also help find unique solutions to problems you face in your every day life.

Conclusion

That wraps up 2018. It definitely was an eventful year and I learnt a lot. Looking forward to another year of activities, travel, new hobbies, more running, and hopefully more accomplishments.