The year is about to end. Every year, in January, I define goals and then forget about it. This is the first time I decided to track my goals after making them in January. In some goals, I did well and failed in others. There are lessons to be learned from almost all of them. Let’s see how I did!
Goal: publish one or two papers.
This is the most important part of my life right now. However, at the beginning of the year, I didn’t know what goals should I make for my PhD. My first project was underway, and I still had to finish my predoc oral exam. Since the things were so blur, my goals were not so clear either.
I didn’t know when I would finish my project and write my paper. It took longer than I expected. I did write my first paper and submitted it to a journal. The journal took a long time to review it and just a couple of weeks ago sent their first feedback. They requested minor revisions. So, I am well on my path to publish this paper. The second project is well underway with already good results. I might start writing my second paper by end of first quarter next year.
Although, I didn’t really meet the goal, I am happy with the progress I made. I could have started with better goals than this. For example, I did finish my oral exam. I have more clarity on what kind of work I want to do after my PhD. I presented my work in conferences. I learned more about column generation. On the teaching side, I took a course on teaching and worked as a TA for a course. I recorded some courses and uploaded on Udemy. So, overall, I am satisfied. But, at the same time, I should pick multiple and more clear goals. Something that is in alignment with what I want to achieve. I should also communicate about my PhD goals for the year to my advisors. They might help me define better goals.
Goal: Play 140+ slow games (time control > 25 mins).
I wanted to improve in chess. But, did not want to spend most of the time learning theory. So, the goal was to play more slow games. I expected to play three games a week. To give some breathing room, I finally decided to settle on the number 140. I wanted to avoid setting targets on my rating. Because, at this level, it can take much longer to gain more rating points.
So, did I play that many games? Yes, I did. I ended up playing 172 slow games (online and offline) this year. So, a big tick mark on achieving the goal? No. I just focused on reaching that number. My chess didn’t improve. In fact, I lost rating points on chess.com. Mainly because I played too many games with lower rated players and even lost some of them. Near the end of the year, playing was not so much fun. I was just playing to boost my ego and increase that count. I should have only counted games against higher rated players. That way, even if I lose, I would still improve.
Goal: Measure my current level and increase it by 1.
This went horribly bad. This is the goal that I did not make much effort for. I didn’t even measure my current level of French. Somewhere in the middle of the year, I accepted defeat and gave up learning French. I believe I failed because there is no intrinsic motivation to learn French. Montreal is in Quebec, and Quebec is a French-speaking state. A lot of small work opportunities at University requires French knowledge. But I managed to always find some alternative. I managed to find a course in English for teaching assistant work. About social parts, being introvert, I don’t like meeting new people anyway. So, no source of even strong extrinsic motivation. There is a strong chance that I would leave Quebec after my PhD. Maybe I should have this goal if I decide to stay in Quebec. At the moment, I don’t find strong reasons for that at the moment.
Goal: Read 10 books.
Well, this was easy to achieve. I underestimated how much I would read. My target was to read about one book a month. I ended up reading 17 books this year. It includes a fiction book. I ended up reading more books because I wanted to write blogs regularly. Writing reviews and takeaways from books made good content for the blogs. Besides, a lot of the books I read were very intriguing. I learned so much. There were also some books, that I just dragged myself through. I should avoid that. Read only if it is useful or interesting or entertaining.
Somewhere during the year, I wanted to give reading fiction books a chance too. I ended up reading “Animal Farm” book. Totally worth it! Won’t be writing a blog about it, but surely would recommend it to everyone.
Other minor goals
I like learning new stuff. Things that are not directly related to my career. I learned more about finance, negotiation, psychology, visual thinking, digital marketing, using notion etc. Mostly, I took mini courses on Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera. No specific goals on what to learn. I just do it as I feel like it. I would like to keep it that way. Otherwise, it will kill all the fun in it.
I didn’t have any goals about it, but I tracked it anyway. I did some exercise on about ~250 days in this year. Not so impressive, but also not too bad. This fall, I joined the university Gym and have been going there 3-4 times a week regularly.
I started writing blogs this year. I did want to write every week. But at the beginning of the year, I didn’t know if I would like doing it or will have enough content to write every week. So, I didn’t create any specific goals about it. I did quite well even without any goals. I wrote 44 blogs (including this one). Many of my friends and family members liked reading my posts.
The best part is that I enjoyed the journey so far. The standards are not too high. I would write about something as long as I think that it will help at least one person on the earth. Some of my readers reached out to tell me that they love reading my posts and thanked me. That is the best feeling, I must say.
Overall, I am happy about this year. The goals were not ideal. But, tracking progress is a good step. Because of that, I could evaluate them and design better goals for next year!
Video: How to become Luckier (Ali)
Quote: “There’s an old proverb that has mutated a few times, but the gist is this: If you want to keep getting what you’re getting, keep doing what you’re doing.” — M. J. DeMarco, The millionaire fastlane