2024 Growth Nugget 🌟

✅ 10 point checklist to achieve more this year

Happy New Year!

As the new year sets in, many of you might have already created your new year resolutions, planning to achieve goals, have new aspirations, and explore new things. Like all of you, I also do this every year. However, mine might be of a different style. I do it as a yearly ritual of reflections and resolutions. Reflections include my achievements, mistakes, bad habits, good habits, and dues. Resolutions include new habits, areas of improvement, KRAs, and what success looks like. This way, I don’t worry about thinking about this stuff over the whole year and can be content with things.

Reflection and Resolution Ritual Mind Map

In my yearly ritual, one of my KRAs was to better help the community. I couldn’t think of a better way to do that other than sharing this 10-point checklist on how you can achieve more this year. The advice is especially from a tech perspective but could also be generally advised. Now, you might be getting a lot of these from various other sources, and they are all good advice. But for me, good advice is the one that is easy to follow.

Knowledge Graph of 2023

I will be covering 10 things that you can do, including resources to get started, so let’s start this new year with great zest -

1. Don't set Goals; set Habits

We are often asked for our goals in life or what we would like to achieve. But I think it's hard to accurately answer. We often underestimate or overestimate our abilities or the effort required to achieve it. Hence, we set either too high expectations and get disappointed when they aren’t achieved. A better way to be better is to set habits instead of goals and have clear indicators, e.g., Instead of saying, "I will become the best developer in technology X," dedicate 1 hr every day to practicing it.

To get deeper into this, do read "Atomic Habits" this year.

Action Item - Pick up 3 Good habits.

Action Item

Start working on a Side Project.

2. Start with Why?

The reason we fall short of accomplishing more is not having consistent motivation. It happens to the best of us where motivation comes in highs and lows. If we set a goal just one day and hope that we have that same energy throughout the year, this is unrealistic. Hence, you need to know the why. Why are you doing it? And an answer that can stay consistent for at least the next couple of years. Doing a job to have financial security is not a good enough why. You need to ask yourself a bigger reason that can push you to have a constant dose of motivation, e.g., for me, the why was to create a product that generates value because I felt so content when I could solve a problem, and people felt happy.

Read: "Ikigai"

Action Item

Think, Why are you doing what you are doing right now?

3. Bring Clarity to Mind

I have noticed and myself faced that today’s constant digital distraction has made our minds chaotic. This makes it challenging to have clear thinking and make good decisions. We dump ourselves too much into day-to-day work in the name of productivity that we don’t even think clearly about why we are doing so many things. I would say a lot of stuff we do is completely unnecessary and not useful at all. I was trying to look for a solution to this for quite some time now as I lacked that clarity as well. Then I stumbled upon meditation, and that completely changed the way I think. I had clarity like never before.

Read - "How to Train your Mind"

Action Item

Meditate for 5 mins.

4. Morning and Evening Rituals

Building upon the last point, I have also added morning and evening rituals to my routine, which have been profoundly game-changing. Morning and evening rituals are daily activities I do at fixed times (morning before I start my work and evening after I end my work). Before I start my work or engage in digital distractions (phone, messages, social media, and emails), I write down my thoughts for the day and what my mind thinks is the most important thing I want to achieve, and check them off first. Then, at the end of my workday, I revisit my day and add any leftovers for tomorrow. This way, I never miss a thing and accomplish a lot one after another.

My Daily Ritual

Action Item

Do a morning ritual.

5. Read > Listen > Watch

We love getting the dopamine rush of watching reels or an endless stream of videos. I also was addicted to watching back-to-back tech videos in the name of learning. But I later realized that I would only remember a fraction of it. Then I flipped the equation, doing more reading, then listening, and, if still curious, watching. Research shows that the brain forms more strong neuron connections when we read stuff and build vivid imaginations in our head. I have realized that I retain more knowledge this way and also apply it better. After all, it's not enough to just consume but to create.

In a typical day, this is what my knowledge packet looks like -

  • 60% Read (Books, Blogs, Newsletters, Research Papers)

  • 30% Listen (Audiobooks, Podcasts, Interviews)

  • 10% Watch (YouTube, Documentaries, Entertainment)

Action Item

Pick up a good book (See here for inspiration).

6. Don't Just Consume, Create

This brings me to the next point: create, not just consume. Creating content not only lets you revisit your concepts and find new ways to apply that knowledge but also builds a great community. The content you create is your passive personality that works on your behalf even when you sleep. I get new opportunities from an article I created 3 years ago. There is always someone like you who understands things the same way and is waiting for an answer. A simple way to think about content ideas is to document everything you do. Most of my posts are my own questions that, once I get an answer to, I write it. For example, if you were trying to fix a bug and there was no StackOverflow answer but eventually you solved it, take 10 extra minutes to write it as well. You will be fixing problems and building your own brand.

Action Item

Write a Blog Post.

7. ❤️ Side Projects

An even better way to learn new things is to build something with that knowledge. Don’t shy away from getting your hands dirty and writing code, whether you are a student or a CEO of a company. Knowing how to code is a superpower many only aspire to have. We often assume that we understand the tech until we actually try to build something and then get stuck on a seemingly trivial issue. This level of hands-on experience is what really converts theoretical knowledge into practical skills. You should also think about solving actual real-world problems instead of just building POCs (Proof of Concepts). Understanding end-to-end UX makes your technical/engineering skills ten times better. Plus, you also open up the world of possibilities for your product turning out to be a true invention and getting actual use out of it.

Action Item

Start working on a Side Project.

8. Measure Your Learning

Growth comes from learning. We often don’t realize it, but we tend to stop learning after we finish school or college. Maybe because we are not graded for it anymore. Hence, we need to score ourselves and check if we are learning enough or not. A great way to do this is to revisit your resume. The only time we probably do this is when applying for a new job, but by then, it’s already too late to learn something new. By revisiting your resume, you can check what new things you have learned since the last time you updated it. My suggestion is to update your resume every 3 months. You will be automatically motivated to learn something new.

Action Item

Revisit and Update Your Resume.

9. Networking is Key

You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. Hence, it's important to make sure you have the right five people who help you grow. This would need you to meet new people regularly, ask them specific questions, follow up on that advice, and repeat that cycle, which might turn into a long-term mentorship. Networking also opens up new potentials for doing crazy stuff. It's no less than strange that all my career opportunities have been because of networking. It's also important to be selective about networking. Start with a topic of your interest and attend an event/gathering around it. Then build upon those same speakers/attendees that you found interesting. You never know; your next jump could be just a handshake away.

Action Item

Attend the nearest tech meetup and network with 5 strangers.

10. Have Fun While Doing It

Lastly, nothing is for sure, so don’t take anything too seriously. You will do much better if you enjoy doing it. We often do things and bloat ourselves with tasks when influenced by others in the form of money, status, or desires. Ask yourself, would you still do what you are doing if you were not being paid for it? Then do what you really love to do and find a way to earn money from it. If you are in a situation where you can’t follow it radically immediately, then create a step-by-step plan, starting with financial security. Build a 6-month emergency fund and bring your burn rate to a minimum, then start dedicating a fraction of that time to your passion. Gradually increase that time commitment and make the final switch once you’re confident. Believe in yourself; no one has got it perfectly right, and we are all trying to figure it out. After all, we are all monkeys with a plan.

Action Item - I would like to share the poem "Slow Dance" by David L. Weatherford, which reminds me to have fun while doing it. I hope you like it!

Slow Dance
Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask "How are you?"
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done,
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
'Cause you never had time
To call and say "Hi"?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

David L. Weatherford

Have a great year!

Best Wishes!
Aman Sharma

Join the conversation

or to participate.