Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Year-end Reflection

And here we are on the last day of 2008. The new year is going to be here any minute now. I am sitting here thinking about everything that happened this year and am amazed by how much changes one can go through in a year both as an individual and also as a member of a community, a country. Life is full of changes and surprises, and that is the beauty of it.

As the last post of this year, I am going to look a closer look at my own changes over the last 12 months. I will attempt to do this every year from now on.

Major Achievements -
  1. Finished my Masters program in Electrical and Computer engineering. I'll be honest - this program is a breeze and it is hard to consider it as an achievement. But after twenty months of being in school it is also difficult to not list it.
  2. Read over 65 books. Not too bad. A pretty good selection on a variety of topics and authors. Tremendously fun and educational. This is the second year in a roll that I read over 60 books in a year. I doubt I will do the same next year - it is very time consuming. I probably will take a different approach and tackle fewer but more difficult books.
  3. Blogging. This one came as an accident, but it is well worth it. I blog almost entirely for myself. It is a great way to sort of keep tabs on myself. There is no greater way to achieve clarity in your thinking than writing. When I write things down, my confusions fade away. It is also very helpful to look back on my posts and see where I have been, the journey I took so to speak. TweakMyLife in particular has affected my life, for the better.
  4. Healthier lifestyle. I made a number of improvements on my dieting and exercising. I was able to set up better and more efficient routines and stick to them. Generally speaking, I eat fairly healthy now and my weight fluctuates within a good range. I also supplement my diet with a number of exercises such as Aikido, general gym workout, and Yoga. The result is satisfactory.
  5. At the beginning of the year I decided to gain a better understanding about all the major religions of the world, and that is just what I did. It was a very enriching and worthwhile experience. Religion, in all its shapes and forms, is the gem of all human wisdom. By studying them, I opened my eyes, not necessarily to their uniqueness (there is that too), but more to the Universal Truth that is shared by all religions. I find that each one is just a different path to the same mountain top. And I am in awe of the beauty, the absolute beauty, in almost all of them.
  6. Buddhism. During my study of all the major religions of the world, I was particularly struck by Buddhism. I found a connection with it in a very special way. I love its pragmatism and its rational approach. As a result, I devoted some time to study it in depth and that has become transformational.
  7. Goal-setting exercise. With two other classmates from the IEM program, we conducted a goal-setting exercise for the duration of the year. We tried a number of approaches, used lists and other means to help us track our goals. I believe the overall result was very good. All of us have become more productive in our lives. Many of the techniques I will carry over to the next year.
  8. Improving trading skills. I have spent some considerable time to improve my trading ability. Arguably I studied four of the most important trading books ever written and I believe they have fundamentally changed the way I think about trading. More importantly, I think they helped me to get rid of some of the bad habits I have grown accustomed to over the years. I am confident that what I did this year will shape my trading result in the years to come.
  9. Aikido. I consistently went to the class this year and practiced. I did incur some injuries and had to bail out for a month but other than that I kept up with my practice. Now I am a redbelt with four qualification tests completed and I am on track to become a blackbelt next year.
  10. French and Chess. I have been studying French for most part of the year and I have made some good progress. Same thing with Chess. I believe my overall understanding of Chess is improving but I do need to continue to play in tournaments in order to improve my rating.
  11. Overall I believe there is a good amount of personal growth this year. As an individual, I am more centered, and more ready to deal with changes. I have found a set of internal principles that I will use as my moral compass, and I am more at peace with myself. I credit this to the work I have done with religion/philosophy, meditation, and self-reflection. Although I have much work to do, my direction is clear.
Some Areas for Improvements -
  1. I wanted to write more, and eventually have some of my writings published, I but never got around to it.
  2. I wanted to at least put some effort towards working on a business idea, but that never happened.
  3. For a good six months there I was working on too many goals; a small number of goals with more focus would be better next time.
  4. I have not made much improvements on my career. However, my view on that seems to be changing. What is a career? Do I really need one?
  5. I need to make more progress on music.
  6. My weight is around 140 lbs. My goals was to reach 137 by the end of this year. But I am not really disappointed.
Fundamental Insights -
  1. One of the most important things in life, perhaps the most important one, is maintaining my mindfulness on the present. Living in the moment. The quality of my life, my overall happiness, depends on it. The past matters not, the future matters not, what I do today, this hour, does.
  2. Everything that ever happened to me, that is happening to me, that will happen to me, is supposed to happen. There is other way it can happen. Whatever the result is, it is for my benefit.
  3. There is a way that you can achieve happiness, systematically. Happiness is not only possible, but it is probably. It is not only probable, it is, in fact, inevitable. Work on your salvation with diligence.
  4. The answers are not out there, they are in here. If I want happiness, look deep within, and unearth what I already know.
  5. Trading is just like poker.
  6. Everything in life is the same. If you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything.

Overall 2008 has been a good year. I put in some effort working on the things that are important to me and I made good progress. I am happy with my work and where I am today. I am ready for the challenges and adventures next year.

Happy New Year! :)

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