Entering the Next Decade

Hello, 2020! Today is the beginning of a new year and a new decade. While the calendar is a made-up concept, and there’s absolutely no real reason to behave any different, we humans do perceive abstract changes of this nature. This change of date serves as a sort of psychological cache reset - we believe we can leave behind whatever we did before and be different people henceforth - starting today.

Looking Back

For me, 2019 was a transformative year. Here’s what I think I learned:

  1. Sleep. Reading Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep in January changed everything I knew about sleep (which was practically nothing). Sleeping 8 hours a day and keeping a near consistent circadian rhythm probably helped me in doing what follows.
  2. Fitness and Nutrition. I’ve been unfit and obese for the 10+ years. That changed to some extent in 2019. Losing 22Kgs through quantified nutrition and physical activity, my quality of life has improved for the better. How did I do it? In short, by watching what I eat and moving more. A detailed post on this soon.
  3. People Interactions. In general, dealing with people was always hard for me. I sought to change that this year. Started off with Dale Carnegie’s established set of principles (which, in a nutshell, say “Be Nice to People”). What did I get in return? Probably nothing; it’s an unquantifiable, intangible feeling. It’s just more peaceful to live this way.
  4. Read Non-Fiction. I considered myself a reader, but I would only read stories. Turns out, reading facts, real-life accounts, frameworks, ideas, etc can positively change your life. And they did. One book that I’d like to particularly call out here is James Clear’s Atomic Habits. I’ll probably write some more on that soon.
  5. YouTube. Early this year, I cleared my YouTube browsing history. My recommendations majorly consisted of TV Show reruns and clickbaits. Discovered this new genre called infotainment. Starting with VSauce, Veritasium, TED and moving on to Kurzgesagt, 3Blue1Brown, etc. changed the kind of content I consumed during dinner. There’s usually a lot of YouTube videos on anything you can think of. Critiques, discussions, animated narratives. How do they help? Take Kurzgesagt’s video on Dyson Spheres for instance. Watching the video rekindled my interest in astronomy and got me interested enought to grab a book in that space (no pun intended). On the other hand, I had read up Sapiens in one shot. YouTube helped me recall and assimilate what I had read.

And these are a few of the major ones. There’s so much more that I learned from books, videos and in general people around me that I can probably make this a 7-part series where Voldemort dies in the end. However, if there’s one takeaway from 2019, it’s

Do things that scale

Crash diets, long continuous work hours, 4-hour workouts just don’t work. Instead what works is slow progression, and of course reading as much subject matter about something as you can.

What’s Next?

Honestly, I don’t know. None of the above hit me on January 1st 2019. I started fixing my sleep habits in February, my fitness journey late December 2018, reading books late January 2019 and so on. But the fact that it’s a new year and there’s 300+ days of possiblities made me believe that I could do it.

3 years ago, I had screenshot-ed this pearl of wisdom from a stranger on Hacker News: And this year, I think I’m going to try this out.
For starters, I want to blog more. From a framework-of-micro-improvements perspective, one blogpost every Saturday. [1]

[1] Update (26th July 2020): Yeah yeah, that didn’t happen. Anyhow, better late than never. Expect something soon.