Mid-year goal evaluation (2023)

Mid-year evaluation of my 2023 goals about PhD, career, finance, chess, book reading and more...

Mid-year goal evaluation (2023)
Photo by Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash

Half the year has passed. So, this year I want to check on the progress I made on the goals I defined at the beginning of the year. Last year, when I analyzed my progress at the end of the year, I felt that some of the goals were not aligned with what I wanted to do. Priorities change. So, this year, the mid-year review will also help me adjust some of my goals based on my current priorities. Let’s start.

PhD Goals

This year the goals are focused on learning specific skills rather than publishing a certain number of papers. Around the beginning of the year, my first paper was submitted to a journal, and the goal from that paper was for me to learn how to write a response after the reviewers gave comments. It turns out this wasn’t as hard as I thought. They asked specific questions, and the responses were straightforward. I provided some more stats and wrote my responses. My advisors made minor changes to the response. We submitted it, and they accepted our paper.

For the second project, the first goal was to learn how to find a journal to publish my work. This is, in general, hard. But, for my second project, there were two very obvious choices. So, it was easy for me to pick a journal. I now have some idea about which journals to pick for certain types of work.

Another goal from this project is to apply my learnings about writing scientific papers. I did follow a different process compared to the first paper. My advisors are reviewing it now. So, we will soon know how much I improved in this direction. However, one of the key weaknesses I learned from this project is that I am not good at selecting the correct statistics to justify my argument. My initial proposals did not convince my advisors; they suggested showing different metrics. I need to improve on this.

Other than my projects, I had a couple of goals for learning more stuff. I aimed to read 10 papers in the year. Turns out this is way too easy. By now, I have already read 8 papers. Starting a youtube playlist for this worked really well. It works like an accountability tool forcing me to read something every week, and is also helpful for others.

I planned to take a course on deep learning. I haven’t done it yet. And looking at my current schedule, it does not seem doable. I have one extra paper to publish, thanks to my performance in the MIP competition this year. And that resulted in some more work in my third project that I did not plan. I will still keep this in my goal and try to find time for it in the second half of this year.

Post PhD

I expect to start writing my thesis by the end of this year. So, the goal was to gain more information about the job market after PhD. I did that. I looked at many academic job listings and talked to many people at the last two conferences I attended.

Before that, I strongly wanted to go to academia after my PhD. But now it is not so clear. I learned that in most academic jobs, the professors are expected to bring grant money to the university. I learned all about how that money flows. I completely ignored this part earlier. I am quite sure I won’t like that. Applying for a grant is a process that I won’t enjoy so much. Even when I get the grant, I am basically answerable to the people who gave the grant. My projects will be in alignment with their interests instead of mine. Such a job won’t have as much freedom as I expected. Some people also told me that there are academic jobs in business schools where the universities don’t care about grants. The main responsibility there is teaching. That might work. So, as of now, I am going to prepare for both possibilities: academics and industry.

Based on some of the people I talked to and my changing priorities, it seems that my goal of creating a complete course on integer programming is not worth it. So, I will no longer be working on that. My youtube playlist on the reading club and other courses I have already published are enough to show my teaching skills.


I am lagging on this goal. The goal was to play 50 slow games. I have only played 16 so far. I started learning endgames and have finished learning pawn and knight endgames. Although I haven’t played much, my rating on chess.com crossed 1500 for the first time. So, my game is surely improving.

Books and blogs

I targeted reading 15 books this year. I have already finished 6. I am reading 4 currently. So, this target is easy to meet. I will re-read some of the books I read last year.

For the blogs, I called it a hobby at the beginning of the year. I am still treating it like that. The goal was to publish 20 blogs in 2023. I have already published 11 (including this) so far. So I am on track.


The goal for this year was to reach 800 CAD in passive income. I moved around my investments and managed to reach 500 thanks to inflation (which resulted in higher interest rates). Most of this income is from interests and dividends. A small portion is also from option premiums. My courses are not making any significant money, which is fine.

On the learning side, my goal was to learn about how government policies affect the market. I finished a course on that. I am now learning about algorithmic trading.


The goals for exercise and sugar consumption were very low. I just have to make sure that I do more exercise and consume less sugar. As per the current number in my tracking sheet, it looks like I have improved quite a lot.

So, overall, I am well on track except for chess. I am not going to reduce that goal. The only major change is that I will no longer aim to make a complete course on integer programming this year. The next update on the goals will be around December. Stay tuned.

My new videos

MIP Presolve [Part 2]: Advanced Coefficient Strengthening and Probing

MIP Presolve [Part 3]: Reductions using one variable at a time

My Favorites

Video: On tipping culture in US (Andrei)

Quote: “The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that’s all there is.” Carson, the butler of Downton Abbey, retrieved from Die with zero, by Bill Perkins.