Hello reader! Hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Day celebration. Wishing you a very happy, healthy and successful year ahead! The WordPress Dashboard showed that I had written merely 2 posts last year. I felt like I owe an explanation to my subscribers and friends who have been checking up on me to see if I’m still alive. So this post will be about some highlights of 2018, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and my resolutions for this year accordingly.
- Filing Patents
2018 was a wonderful year for me in terms of innovation. I filed 2 patent applications. This is a high point for me because I have always been interested in research and theoretically coming up with ideas, but until a year back my work was all about implementation and had no scope for research. It is nice to see something I value and do in my spare time come out with good results.
When I first joined my company fresh out of college, hearing about the patent program made me very excited, but I lacked confidence. After a year, I submitted one idea which got rejected and I didn’t work on ideas after that. Then a couple years later, my senior suggested we work together on our ideas and we have been working on a few ideas ever since. The challenge is that our regular work does not expose us to solutions that are patentable, so we had to work extra hard to understand new domains in detail and then come up with ideas.
Since I was inexperienced, I had to put in more time and effort into this whole process. In the past, if an idea got rejected, I got a bit demotivated and didn’t work on the next one. I sometimes wondered if I shouldn’t be spending so much of my free time on this. There were times when I simply wasn’t inspired and gave up for months before I got the momentum back.
After having 2 patent applications in my name, all that effort seem well worth it. For starters, it gave me self confidence and got rid of my imposter syndrome which I had acquired when I was in a bad environment a while back. There was also a difference in the way people perceived me. I also got invited to be part of a Panel Discussion. It made me feel so grateful and honoured to be among seniors with many patents to their name. Most of all, being rewarded for doing something you love is delightful.
Working on patent ideas is much like working on a novel. It takes time, effort, editing and sometimes, ripping apart a part of it (or even the whole) and reconstructing from scratch. You face ideator’s block, just like writer’s block. The revising and researching part can get tiring. There are times you want to do anything else but focus on your work in progress. This year, I resolve to force myself to work on my ideas once a week.
- Unnecessary Purchases
I pride myself on simple living (or at least I used to). Except for books, I never used to hoard anything. In fact, recycling or giving away things gives me so much happiness. I find that the physical act of decluttering and organizing stuff has a similar effect on my mind as well (which is why I often go clean something when exams or deadlines are nearby instead of taking the common sense approach of getting the thing done).
I have no idea how, but I have ended up with a lot of stuff that I don’t use anymore and wish to give away or recycle. I’ve ended up with useless stuff taking up considerable space and the stuff I need is always missing and hard to find. I never thought I’d be one of those people who say “I have nothing to wear” while looking at a closet full of clothes, but that is who I’ve become.
Another area I find myself spending much on is skincare. I prefer to use the gentlest, most skin-friendly and environment-friendly cosmetics and toiletries and these are usually quite expensive. For years, I’ve looked up DIY skincare, but never tried them out. Apart from being heavy on the pocket, some of these habits are also bad for the environment.
I plan to slowly but surely remove all the things I don’t use and try to find out how I can adopt a minimalistic way of living. Also, a recent conversation with my cousin made me realize that even though I’m very passionate about sustainability, I do just the basics and don’t go the extra mile. Some ideas I got from her were to make my own skincare products and take up composting. I’ve decided to look up more ideas on living sustainably. Since there is a lot of ground to cover here, I will write a follow-up post on this soon.
- Erratic sleeping and eating pattern
For the past couple of years, I’ve always felt that my sleep and food pattern are irregular and have been wanting to fix them. If I’m focused on something, whether it is office work or a YouTube video, I don’t realize that I’m hungry or sleepy. This means I sometimes forget to eat and frequently put off sleep to finish the task at hand. While I’m not affected by this habit now, it is only a matter of time until this shows up negatively in my overall health and wellbeing.
This year, I’ve decided to take a holistic approach to health. This includes going to bed at least before midnight, ensuring I have 8 hours of sleep, taking my meals on time, meditating once a week and exercising every other day.
- Negligible reading for pleasure
Every year, I read 100-250 books on an average. In 2018, I pledged to read 150 books and joined around 18 reading challenges. Considering my usual reading habit, this was easily doable. However, as per Goodreads, last year I read a total of just 26 books. I know that reading is about quality, not quantity, but this is less than 10% of what I had read in 2017.
It isn’t like I didn’t read much last year. I did spend a lot of time reading technical blogs and news, but I didn’t read anything much that isn’t work-related. While it is true that our priorities change, I feel like I could have done better if I didn’t sign up for so many reading challenges. Every time I pick up some book, I kept feeling bad that I should be reading something else that fits one of the challenges so that I could tick off an item here and there. This constant feeling of “I-should-be-reading-something-else” kept me from enjoying the one that I held at the moment and eventually made me put off reading for pleasure, coz it wasn’t a pleasure anymore.
Upon introspection, I’ve come to realize that I love planning, but not implementing. Planning things to the minutest of details gives me a sense of accomplishment. Granted, the ability to plan things well is a good skill. However, my problem is that if I knew something will work then the excitement of seeing it through is gone. If something is challenging or will have unpredictable outcomes, then I will act on it. Otherwise, all the joy is had while planning, so there is no motivation to go through the chore of implementation. Me being a perfectionist doesn’t help either. Will write more on the downside of perfectionism in a later post.
This year, I’ve decided to plan less, or at least not plan everything in an excruciatingly minuscule level of detail and focus more on actually getting things done. While I’m at it, I have also decided to be more spontaneous and go with the flow. This is the reason why my resolutions this year are not concrete and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely), but more like pointers on daily activities.
To sum up, these are my resolutions:
- Read up on technical topics and work on ideas at least once a week
- Declutter unwanted stuff and find out more about minimalism
- Reduce purchases by wanting less and trying out DIY projects
- Be mindful of the environment and live more sustainably
- Adopt a holistic approach to health
- Plan less, act more
Have you taken any New Year’s Resolutions? Comment below!