My Year in Review – 2019

It’s that time of the year, when I choose to look back at the year gone by as well as look forward to the upcoming one. Considering the slashing down of the post frequency to weekly, I was a bit conflicted with the idea of starting these posts full 11 days before the actual year end. So, instead of the three posts that I generally do at the end of the year apart from the one start-of-the-year post, from now on, I decided to combine the Christmas wishlist and the Year in Review posts. After all, what was my Christmas wishlist but a list of wishful fantasies that could come to life only as part of new year resolutions.

Why the year in review?

In the last few days, I have wondered how has this idea of publicly reviewing my year become so important to me when even after almost 10 years, I have always mentally shrugged off the dreaded performance appraisals at work. It’s not like I am not ambitious or do not care about progressing in my career.

As for my personal year in review, I have come to strongly believe in the idea of constantly improving myself or adding value to myself as a person in some way or the other. Holding myself accountable to myself on self-chosen parameters is something I have started seeing the benefit of. Exhibit A, this blog! 🙂

Report card

The good thing about combining the Christmas wish list and New Year resolutions is that I do not end up repeating myself (eye roll!). In this case, let’s look at how I did on some of the publicly proclaimed things on the list, especially when they are not as vague as more physical energy (that’s what happens when resolutions are morphed as wishes)

1. Will power to batch write blog posts

I am laughing at myself sarcastically just looking at this resolve. Instead of batch writing blog posts, I ended up taking the tough call of reducing the frequency from two to one and at times missing out the weekly post altogether as well. Thankfully, with some freelance commitments and some long-form journaling, my writing quota did not go completely out of whack.

Verdict: Super fail

2. Remain consistent with bullet journaling

Here, I can look to divide the year in two halves. In the first half, I was fairly consistent with bullet journaling and all was hunky dory. Then, in the second half, I started dropping some aspects of it like the habit tracker, thinking I am doing a lot of things anyway and gradually from almost September I have barely logged my entries. Even though I have re started long-form journaling (and discovered some of my hand-written journals going back to my teen years), in this year I realised that the bullet journal fulfills a very different gap in my days. It makes every day something well lived and is a fantastic, almost visual way to see how I spent my time. So, dropping this habit in 2019 was probably one of the things which I am least proud of. The good thing is I intend to redeem myself in the coming year.

Verdict: Partly successful, jury is still out

3. Complete projects started last year

Shrouded in mystery, here I was hinting at a fiction novel that I was working on at that time. Since I had a fair, sketchy idea of how I wanted the story to shape up, I am pretty proud to say that I managed to complete a manuscript of a breezy contemporary fiction. In fact, I have even sent out proposals to literary agents and publishers to resounding rejections. But then, most writers need to have that story about their number of rejections before making it big, right? For anyone reading this, and in the publishing industry, and interested in taking a look at a contemporary fiction novel of about 80,000 words, feel free to drop me an email at aparna@elementummoney.com. As of now, I am just a little annoyed at myself for not having started a new book considering no plot has seemed good enough or put down able. After all, it will be good to have a second manuscript handy to be published once the first one is a best seller, right? 😉

Verdict: Successful

4. Continue with good practices initiated last year

Sounds vague but bear with me. Essentially, apart from bullet journaling, this resolution hinted at 3 other things, namely: reading, writing my vision multiple times a week and working out 2-3 times a week.

First up, reading is something which has kept me sane this year. With 50+ books read and enjoyed, commutes became something to look forward to. Next week is the grand list of My Year in Books 2019 and most definitely my favorite post of the year.

Second, writing my vision also happened fairly successfully. Almost every time that I was on my work laptop, I tried to take out ten minutes, type out the same 400-odd words every time, with some tweak if the situation so demanded and felt more at peace. If bullet journaling helps me take one day at a time, writing my vision helps me with a bird’s eye view and not to be too bothered with any unforeseen delays on any front. In a way, they are the mirror opposites which work very well in tandem.

Coming to the third point, working out has been the Achilles heel or in my case, Achilles knee (I have some history with my knee). Again, on this front I started out strong, literally, since I focused only on strength training with bigger weights and better form. Mid way in the year, with something or the other coming up, I held on to the excuse of the gym being too far and too crowded, with laziness happy to fill in any other psychological gap. This is another aspect I am not happy about having slacked on.

Verdict: Intermittently successful

5. Build up in slow steady steps with a long term vision

Yes, this point is still vague considering I still have no idea of the timeline of what I was hinting at here. The good part is that I have taken my first step. For a further reveal, as they say, wait and watch, since I am pretty much doing the same!

Verdict: Successful enough

Other wins for 2019

An year is a long time and we are often not able to foresee what may or may not come to be. While I have cribbed and ranted about how I have nothing big to show for 2019, while looking for silver lines in those dark clouds, I sure found some.

1. Learning German on Duolingo

Talking to a friend, I happened to mention my list of 100 goals for life. That reminded me of a goal of being fluent in a few languages including German, which I did study in school for 3 years but we all know how that goes. This year, I have been using the Duolingo app almost everyday for 200+ days, mostly during my morning commute to learn German. As their emailer some days back told me, I spent 111 hours in completing 1659 of their bite-sized lessons and learnt 5807 words in the bargain. The delight I feel at speaking a foreign tongue or even remembering a word learnt a few months back feels awesome.

2. Starting consistent donations to charity

The great thing about Elementum Money is how conscious it has made me about how I myself use and think about money, at an individual level. One of the high points was when I got the opportunity to chat with Debra Mesch and I got acquainted with the fascinating annual series of Women Give. I realised I need to make philanthropy a consistent part of my life. So now, I have enrolled myself in a payroll donation program whereby a miniscule amount is deducted every month and donated to the company’s CSR arm. It’s still not a substantial amount, but it’s a start and I intend to increase it every year.

3. Quest towards continuing education

When I tell my 7-year-old nephew that he knows everything, he is quick to respond that he would be stupid to think so because no one can know everything. If a 7-year-old can show such insight, the least I can do is act on it. As I have mentioned earlier, I am fairly new to the world of investments and I am pretty sure I have a long way to go in getting up to the mark with my knowledge and understanding. On that basis, one fine day in July I bought some books for the first level of CFA exams. Although, I do not plan to give the exam as it is pretty expensive and does not add much to my credibility, I was told by two peers that the study material provided good value and was worth spending time on. I have also enrolled into two short exams, again with the aim of improving my technical knowledge. I could either look at this point as a win or a fail considering I have only done the easy part of enrolling and not really made much progress towards the learning part. But, somewhere you need to pat your back for any step made in the right direction.

While I have been berating myself this month on not having any big bang event to claim the year, when I look back at it now, it’s not been that bad, even in terms of my efforts.

Do you look back on your year? How was 2019 for you? Let me know in the comments below.

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