As the year comes to an end, I wanted to reflect on 2019. It’s been a good year, one filled with joy and fulfillment.
I first focus on the two resolutions I made, followed by other things worth noting throughout the year.
My two resolutions were:
- To get into good physical condition
- To make a positive impact past the self
My plan of action for both resolutions could not be further off. Despite that, I think I accomplished #1 but failed #2 (which I’m okay with).
To get into good physical condition
The goal was to fully recover from my foot surgery, then get into shape by weight lifting, jumping rope, and swimming. My target body weight was 164.5 pounds.
In April, a former coworker invited me to join his tennis team. What I reckoned would be a seasonal activity became a new passion. I stopped going to the gym, swimming, and jumping rope altogether. I instead played tennis 4-5 times a week for up to 4 hours per session.
I was initially quite fixated on reaching my target weight. But I couldn’t fight the urge to overeat on occasion. Rather than criticize myself as per the norm, I learned to embrace occasional gluttony, knowing that it was not habitual. I reached 165 pounds by summer and now hover around 167.
To make a positive impact past the self
Man, what actually happened could not be further off from the original plan. I wanted to form another company whose mission was to reduce workplace waste. I codenamed it Project SCU – Sustainable Corporate Utensils.
I was highly motivated to get started. I drafted initial designs and researched equipment/manufacturing costs. But I didn’t have confidence that the company would ever become profitable. I called it quits without investing anything other than time.
I felt some disappointment for a few days, but shifted my attention to things that I could control. Tennis was one. Traveling, socializing, reading, and cooking being others.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year was my discovery of USTA tennis.
The USTA tennis system has been a positive experience and has allowed me to play at various tennis centers throughout the Bay Area. Some matches are held at public parks; some at gated country clubs; some were even held in indoor tennis courts with towel service! I’m stoked to say that the team I’m part of finished the regular season undefeated at 10 wins 0 losses. I’m quite excited (and nervous) about our first playoff match in January!
More importantly, I’ve found an incredible community through tennis. My team is based out of Fremont Tennis Center. My teammates are predominantly Indian. Most team members are between 30-50 years old, and just about all are first generation immigrants. The group are a lovely bunch, and we’ve become friends off the court.
I was fortunate enough to fly another 22 times across 36,388 miles this year. This included:
- Taiwan: to visit family and friends
- Japan: first international, non-business solo trip
- Washington: to explore Seattle and Mount Rainier National Park
- Tennessee: to truly explore a Southern City for the first time (Nashville)
- Georgia: for work meetings in Atlanta, but also rekindle with old friends
- Orange County: to visit my beloved family
In May, I had two weeks of free time between jobs. I spontaneously flew my retired my dad up. Over the course of four days, we explored Muir Woods National Forest, Yosemite National Park, Pinnacles National Park, and 17 Mile Drive. It was by far the longest we spent 1:1 time together, and I could not be happier with the outcome.
Lessons from a failed venture
I recently dissolved my company in November. It had operated at a loss of $40,000 over two years. I learned a lot, have no regrets, and would rather try again than to go back to school.
During the time I formed the company, I desperately wanted to focus on something other than my full time job. In retrospect, I had entered a highly speculative business and was willing to spend (i.e. lose) money to learn as I went. Funding the business forced me to learn about negotiating with property managers, ensuring my accounting and finances were done properly, and gave me more incentive to read business books.
My office space was in Las Vegas. Before starting this venture, I last visited Las Vegas when I was 21 years old. In the past two years, I’ve flown to the city 3x and drove 2x. As a non-gambler, non-drinker, and non-clubber, I was overcome with boredom on every visit, Hoover Dam being an exception. I’m okay not visiting the city for another 10 years.
Some business books I read along the way that are worth mentioning:
Books Worth Reading
Another cool thing that happened this year was that I read (and enjoyed!) non-business books for the first time in years. I forgot just how much I enjoyed reading for leisure. Books worth mentioning:
- Bad Blood: Secret and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – John Carreyrou
- Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy – Kevin Kwan
- Reality Check: The Unreported Good News About America – Dennis Keegan
Reality Check was particularly an eye-opening book, and one relevant given the current political and social climate. Its premise is that news outlets, perhaps through their need to survive stiff competition, report an overwhelming amount of negative press. Good news isn’t sell-able. And therefore folks have a perception that the world is going to shit. But there’s a lot of positive, uplifting news going on. My two primary takeaway is that I should not let news outlets dictate my mood (which it had been).
Good year. Joyful. Fulfilling. Happy. I look forward to 2020.