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Annual Review (2020)

4 min read

This year was a weird one. The pandemic was bad and good at the same time. Being at home most of the time meant I had more time to rest and learn compared to other years - where I was often busy with classes and other activities.

This is my first Annual Review, and it'll consist of three questions. (h/t James Clear for this format)

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn't go so well?
  3. What did I learn?

What Went Well This Year

  1. Medical School.
    I'd say I did quite well in medical school this year. I passed my second year comfortably. I didn't do as well as I did in my first year, but I passed this year with different methods - instead of studying, I spent more time with family and friends. I gained a new perspective on exams - it doesn't matter as much. Doing well in your exams does not equate to you being a better physician. Exams don't exactly show how well you're progressing in medicine. This year, I spent more time with my friends and family, learning and writing. learning and  I still passed my exams - same as last time, but I enjoyed the experience more. Using efficient learning techniques such as active recall and spaced repetition has allowed me to study less still do well.

    I went into medicine to help others, but I learned one important distinction - you can only help the patients you meet. By doing scalable activities (such as writing, etc.), I can increase my impact.
  2. I learned plenty. I got myself a Kindle a year ago, and I've read way more compared to other years. Reading more lead to me learning more - and as a result has changed my life for the better, bit by bit. Before this, I didn't read as much - the friction of having to buy physical books made it hard for me to read. With a Kindle, I can get the books I want with a few clicks.

    I also diversified my learning sources - before, I'd learn from YouTube and podcasts. This year, I read more books, articles, and also learned from online courses!

    If you'd like to start reading more - get a Kindle, and make it a habit to read 20 pages to start your day. 20 pages a day will lead to about 36 books a year and is achievable. Expand when you're more comfortable with it.
  3. I started writing! I didn't plan to start writing this year - it came out of the blue. I was listening to a podcast, got convinced me to start a blog, then the next hour, my website was up. I learnt to code as a result of it.

    Thanks to my blog, I made new Internet friends and learned so much from them. I enjoy sharing what I learnt, but I need to make writing a habit.

    To do this, I joined a small group of writers to keep myself accountable with it. I'm hoping to publish once a week for the next year!

What Didn't Go So Well?

  1. Weightlifting & Running. I started the year by weightlifting and running every day, but I couldn't maintain it when lockdown started. I didn't have easy access to weights, and I didn't enjoy working out at home. I'm hoping to start weightlifting again soon. Let's see how it goes! Since the pandemic started, I've only gone for a run once. These days, I'd rather play sports - badminton, tennis, futsal, etc. Would love to start running again this year. I was running 5k's in 25 mins before the lockdown happened, so I would like to build on it next year.
  2. Didn't lose much weight. My weight fluctuated this year, but I ended the year the same as how I started. I wasn't with eating well. I tried to go on a Slow Carb Diet- It went well for the first few weeks and lost weight, but the resistance with cooking + peer pressure made it a difficult habit to maintain. I'll be trying something similar next year, learning from my setbacks
  3. I didn't play the guitar and design consistently. I wanted to practice guitar daily but failed to do it this year. I couldn't be consistent in playing it, with me playing it now and then. I also planned to improve on my designing, but I didn't block time to make it happen.

What Did I Learn?

  1. I learned about the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. Its a method for clearing your mind of all inputs so you can focus on your work and be more productive. According to David Allen, your brain is for having ideas, not storing them. Having a system to remember everything enables a "mind like water" state. It consists of 5 steps, which are Capture, Clarify, Organise, Reflect and Engage.
  2. I learned about Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). I started by reading up on Zettelkasten or Evergreen Notes, and I'm currently doing it on Roam Research. Since then, I find it easier to create first drafts while writing, and I could learn and generate more ideas from what I read.
  3. Stoicism. I finally got the hang of stoicism this year. According to the Stoics, external events do not matter- how you perceive it matters. Thanks to Stoicism, I don't get affected by the little things (and they are all little things), and I don't complain as much as I used to.
  4. Focus on being effective, not efficient. It does not matter how well you do something. What matters is what you do. By being efficient, you fall into the trap of wanting to do more, and as a result, you get busier. It's far more important to work on the right things, instead of being busy. As Tim Ferriss puts it, "being busy is not the same as being productive. In fact, being busy is a form of laziness - lazy thinking and indiscriminate action". We should focus on the right things, then be efficient in doing it.
  5. Growth is not linear. Personal growth is not linear - it's full of ups and downs.

Thanks for reading!

Annual Review


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