Annual Review 2021
A year that challenged the comfort of consistency.
I like to call myself someone who loves change. I think of myself to be very comfortable around change and, in fact, seek change in every possible way. Or at least that’s what I thought till 2021 hit me. For someone who loves to “spice things up” just for fun, I realized that deep inside, I too carry a little bit of metathesiophobia (Fear of change) with me.
As we spent 2020 in a very different world than we used to, we all got to experience massive life changes. We managed it in our own ways and made it to the other side in one piece. Like many, I too made it very comfortably. 2020 gave me the confidence to face 2021 in a similar attitude. But man have I been wrong! When I thought I was embracing change in 2020, what I have done was settle into the comfort of consistency.
I think this happened due to both internal and external reasons. Externally, I think the pandemic took one year to reach Sri Lanka on a full scale. In 2020 the government managed the pandemic in a very commendable way. We were locked in houses, but in 2 months we were almost back to normal. We hardly missed anything. I managed to tick most of my boxes smoothly and in fact, it gave me some extra time too. But 2021 COVID was 10 fold worse and it shook our nerves to the core! What most countries when through in 2020, we experienced it in 2021.
Now enough with the prologue, let me get down to the year 2021.
As you know, I make a list every year. It’s sort of a bucket list, but I prefer calling it a guide. I had the same last year based on my previous yearly review. The list contains some routine tasks that need following up for myself to stay on track as well as some new goals. Let’s start with the one that is very close to my everyday life.
As I managed to hit my target last year of 15 books for the year, I wanted to aim higher this time. My initial target was 16 books this year. However, I still only managed to finish 12 books this year. I’d like to list out all the reasons for not hitting the goal, but hey, I still read 12 amazing books. One thing to point out here is that as I am super picky about my book selection, I stumbled upon some top-of-the-line books that cover a plethora of sections. Here goes the list.
- The God Dilution by Richard Dawkins
- End Game (novel) by David Baldacci
- The Virgin Way by Richard Branson
- Range by David Epstein
- The Spy and The Traitor by Ben Macintyre
- Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus by John Gary
- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
- Limitless by Jim Kwick
- The Hard way (novel) by Lee Child
- Maybe You Should Talk To Someone — Lori Gottlieb
- And away by Bob Mortimer
- Think Again by Adam Grant
At the moment I am reaching the end of Think again. Being a member of the Pick a Book community served me differently this year. Last year it encouraged me to read as many books as I possibly can. However, things changed a bit this time. I focused a lot on retaining what I read more than just piling up books.
Oh, by the way. If anyone wants to make reading their new year resolution and wanted some good recommendations. I would say, start with Limitless. That one will make sure you read more.
It’s been over 3 years since I attended any formal/ traditional education sessions. However, my constant search to learn never left. If you followed my last year’s review, I completed some amazing Udemy and Coursera courses on a variety of subjects. Similarly, this year too was full of learning. First, I completed one of the top-rated courses on Coursera; Project Management by Google. It opened both my eyes and new avenues in life. If anyone needs to start on an online course, I would say, this is the one.
Then due to the change in my job role, I unofficially completed an Azure beginner certificate. I am yet to officially sit for an exam. However, I followed it for the content over the accreditation.
One thing I am not so proud of is my second course in Coursera. Data analytics certificate by Google. My initial plan was to finish it by the end of the year. But as I was a bit too late to start, I had to rush very fast to finish it. Which I did initially, but then realized that rushing through a course is not the ideal way to learn. So I had to park it for a moment. But I promise myself right here right now that when I write my yearly review next year, it will be an accomplishment than a pending task.
Now that’s formal education. The highlight of this year was informal education. As I switch jobs and took over some responsibilities that are very interesting and challenging, I ended up learning so much in a very informal way. It was so informal that if you asked me to list out what I learned, I won’t be able to do it. The last 4 months of the year were filled with filling and connecting little bits of knowledge into place.
The year 2021 was a revolutionary year for me in terms of volunteering. The idea of donating time and knowledge is far from novel for me. However, the capacity in which I made change was immense. First, I got to become a forum member of the capacity and HR forums in SLASSCOM (The Knowledge and Innovation Chamber of Sri Lanka) and managed to be a part of some amazing projects. Projects such as the People Summit, the flagship HR conference in Sri Lanka, and the professional skills framework targeted to make graduates work-ready.
I handed over the reins as the VPPR of attune Toastmasters club and was nominated to become the PR manager for Division G of District 82 Toastmasters. Though I was a Toastmaster for a while now, I truly got to see the potential of what the movement can do through my new tenure at the divisional level. I also became a committee member of my school alumni association or what we call the Old Boys Association. As I said, it was a year full of engagement for me on the volunteering front.
With all that time spent on volunteering, I got to appreciate the meaning of giving back to the community. I know it sounds a bit cliché to say, however, we can have our own opinions about the whole “giving back to the community” but you get to see the true meaning when you are sounded by equal-minded people who look at it the same way.
Despite all the drama in the world on the health front, I can proudly say that 2021 was a very healthy year. Nothing worth mentioning in my bad health account. However, I did manage to lose some more weight this year. I had 2 weight goals as I enter this year. One is to always maintain my weight below 85Kg which I was successful. However, I also had a plan to drop my weight below 80kg but that goal was a bit too much, especially with my appetite. Overall I have over 95 hours of tracked workouts with 217km of movement this year. Now that is a lot! I have been in 178 intermittent fasting sessions and one prolonged 48 hours fast and two 36 hour fasts.
I am proud of how I spent my year in terms of being healthy. Yet, it’s far from my ideal standard. Let’s see what 2022 brings in for me.
Loss of my dear friend.
This whole blog won’t be complete if I don’t remember the passing of my dear friend fluffy. She was such a wonderful soul that I loved the most. That loss was the first time I ever felt the true pain of losing someone close to me. I am not the same person after her. May she rest in peace.
Everything That I Missed.
While I manage to do some crazy-ass things in life this year (out of which I only mentioned a few), there were some goals that I could not achieve. Some of them will move with me to the next year and some will stay back as I evolved beyond such goals as a person.
First, I wanted to start a podcast and I have no excuse for not doing it. I actually did one for one of my Toastmasters projects and it came out fairly ok. I wish I kept on doing it, but for some reason, I could not.
Then there was this other goal of leading a project to my school. I could not initiate it because the schools were closed for almost the entire year. However, I did join the school alumni committee and I hope the next year will be the year for me to get that done.
Then the 18m diving licenses is another goal I had to put on hold because I got bigger priorities. However, that is something that I will definitely get but maybe as soon as I once wanted.
I also planned to write one blog per week like the last year which I completely fell off the wagon. However, 2021 was a year where I got to work on some amazing projects as a content writer. All thanks to the commitment I put on to writing last year. I still remember how bad of a writer I was before 2020 and how I became a professional (small scale obviously) content writer.
My New Job
With everything that happened in 2021, switching my job must be the biggest change and the boldest move I ever made. Looking for change when things get rough is one thing. I am so proud of this decision because I made that move while I was cruising at my job in my previous place. I believe this is not an age to get comfortable. If we don’t challenge ourselves now, when are we going to do that? It was a very hard decision to make and I am proud I did that.
A couple of lessons I learned and changes I made.
We are evolving every day. One motto I live by is that if I don’t feel stupid about how I behaved before, I have stopped growing. Likewise, some things change this year too. I tried to minimize making passive-aggressive decisions that involve others. It took a while for me to understand how to influence people the right way. I don’t think I caught the art yet, but I am better. Despite multiple leadership experiences I had before, 2021 taught me that leading is sometimes following too. Instead of trying to be in the driver’s seat, you can be a leader by following along with a team to a common goal as well.
Productivity is something I can train. All these years I never thought about improving my capacity. To elaborate on that, I was under the assumption that the brain capacity of a person and how productive they are at work are some features that are unique to them. However, in the year 2021, with the help of some amazing friends and some world-class books, I finally started to focus on improvement in those lines. I started incorporating productive habits to keep me on top. Purchased some productivity-focused applications to support me. I also started to treat my brain as an organ that needs proper maintenance to function.
Start and then figure out. 2021 I finally went ahead and started my small business. It was a side hustle I did for fun out of the love I have to make food. I was thinking about it and planing for a very long time without execution. I finally took it together and started. It all added up afterward.
2021 was yet another year of self-reflection. It came with its own unique challenges that kept me on edge. One thing that I won’t do moving to 2022 is expecting the same and being comfortable because I managed 2021. Anyway, 2022 will be a very pivotal year for me and I am eager to dive right in and see what it has to offer me!
I hope you too will get the support you need to win next year and not just survive. And I hope this blog will act as an encouragement for you to become a better version of yourself this year!
Happy New Year! See you on the other side!