A New Dawn - Goodbye 2023, Hello 2024

A New Dawn - Goodbye 2023, Hello 2024
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Happy New Year 2024

As we bid farewell to 2023 & open the doors for 2024. I wish you and your families a very Happy & Blessed 2024!! Let there be new dawn in your lives.

Reflections 2023

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To be honest, I am not a reflective kind of person which means I never reflected on the past or anything for that matter. I just go on with life, trying to learn & improve on the way. Maybe I did reflect subconsciously where I would iterate or change course when I was faltering or something was not working. But I never indulged in any active form of reflection.

However, an interesting conversation with someone I respect has changed my perspective. Someone very senior who is extremely busy with (in my words) "thousands of things on her plate", I found her to be on top of every issue which was evident from her questions during departmental meetings which were pointed, incisive & tore right through the problem & I observed this in all meetings with multiple departments.

I asked her how was she able to be on top of things despite "having thousands of things on her plate". She responded, "I reflect on major issues every evening & then note them down".

I follow podcasts, essays, blogs etc by Tim Ferris, Shane Parrish & James Clear - the three visionaries I follow for learning & developing myself. Some common threads / concepts or patterns they emphasize are (there are more but these are the ones I focus on now):

  1. Discipline
  2. Consistency
  3. Iterate, Improve
  4. Deliberate Practice
  5. Patience
  6. OODA Loop (Observe - Orient - Decide - Act)
  7. Aiming for 1% improvement over lofty goals - tiny changes

All the above requires us to reflect - at each step to take stock on whether our actions are yielding results or not. If not, reflect & change course.

Thus, I noticed that I was missing a very important link to my practice of self - improvement - ACTIVE REFLECTION.

So, instead of rushing my day with research or blogging, I decided to use the last couple of days to reflect on what I did in 2023 basically

  1. What I learnt
  2. What am I still learning &
  3. What I will carry into 2024.

Some of those key learnings are :

Have a Purpose or a Vision

This I got from studying Strategy. A company always should have a purpose or reason for it's existence. This applies even to what we do as individuals or professionals. Whatever we do needs to have a core purpose.

For example - The vision of my blog is to explain complex topics into byte sized notes for easy comprehension & understanding.

A vision keeps things in perspective for any professional or personal project & needs revisiting depending on external circumstances.

Applying this, any book I read has a purpose behind it (applies only for non-fiction). For example - I read books on strategy or technology to learn more about it & apply the learnings where I can either at work or outside & research for my blog.

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Create Value

What is value? In corporate world, value is what the company derives from it's customers either due to differentiation or lower cost advantage.

In our professional lives, value is what we provide to the company we work for through our knowledge & unique experience.

For me, in addition to my professional work & experience, if one reader goes to bed smarter by learning something new from my blog than when he / she woke up , that is value for me.

I hope to add more value to my readers in 2024 & develop practices towards that goal.

We learn by Doing

When I was doing CS50X, the most I was able to understand programming concepts was when I was doing the problem sets. It's only when we are challenged to think through a problem that we get first hand experience on how to resolve an issue.

The research, the errors, the thinking behind the resolution of any issues when doing something beats just reading & taking notes. Read, take notes & then apply the concepts where you can.

So, read books & then take some key points to implement them in your professional or personal life. Of course, this applies only to non-fiction books.

For me personally, I read a lot on writing to improve my writing style. If I am reading articles or listening to podcasts on writing without engaging in some form of writing exercise, maybe I can understand the points but cannot internalize the learnings. Because I am already engaged in writing projects as part of my blog, I am able to appreciate the points being made & try to apply them where I can.

So, GO FOR IT!!!

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Write, Write, Write!!!

In this age where we only type either on a keyboard or on the phone, we do not write as much as we should. However, writing releases all those cobwebs in our brain & lets in sunshine bringing clarity of thought or at least less cognitive load on the brain. (That is why journaling is sometimes called "Brain-dump"). All it requires is

  1. A writing pad
  2. A pen or pencil

Also, why do we have to overload our brain when we can write things down for later recall.

I try to write as time permits. But I aim to write at least one page everyday.

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Personal Knowledge Management - PKM

This is something I am trying to develop - a personal knowledge management system for the topics I am studying on. There are huge number of books, articles, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos etc on PKM which is quite interesting & useful for professionals.

I read lots of books & conveniently forget what I read once I close the book. It's sad how much knowledge goes to waste. If we can implement at least one idea from a book we read, that would make a lot of difference to our thinking & actions.

I got to know about Personal Knowledge Management from a book "Building a Second Brain" (Author - Tiago Forte). We can write notes in books or word documents but how can we relate them to each other? How can we relate them to what we already know & can we derive actionable insights from our notes? Can we retain what we read for a considerable length of time? It's a fascinating rabbit hole to go down into.

It's a work in progress but I hope to use it to improve the way I take notes & derive actionable insights from the books I read.

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Seed of Simplicity

This is one of the core tenets of my blog. To keep things simple. Even thought it is a straight forward concept, it is not easy to implement in this age of distractions & complicated jargons.

As I mentioned in my "About Me" page, I consider simplicity as a seed because to keep things simple, we should water it with clarity of thought to distill something to it's core essence. To develop clarity of thought, I find writing very helpful. Writing gives us that clarity & identify gaps in our thinking.

So, to keep things simple, we have to nurture our clear thinking habit & write things down.

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