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Biggest change I made in 2020 +

I'm sure many of you can relate to a feeling of ambition. After all, that's probably why you're reading this newsletter. I've always had huge goals and wouldn't let myself stop until I achieved them. This is one of my favorite traits about myself but it's also one that ended up harming me the most. I noticed that I would end up choosing to stay home and finish coding an algorithm instead of going out to see my friends. I would make almost no time for my family. Tldr: I'd endlessly procrastinate making time for the people who mattered most. Around midway through this year, I realized that isn't who I want to be. All the success in the world isn't worth a tradeoff with the people in my life. So I started making my life and my relationships my #1 priority. Every Saturday, I put down whatever it is I need to work on (because I guarantee it can wait) and I see my friends and my family. My mental health is a lot better than it was in the beginning of the year when it was all work and no fun. And now my productivity is even higher because I want to get things done and spend more time with the people I love.

Self discovery +

I've recently discussed this in my November newsletter but a few months ago I've come to a crossroads. As a full-time high school student, the time I have for anything outside of school is fairly limited. I can't "do everything," I have to choose. So, this leads to the existential question: who do I want to be? If I focus my efforts on something, I want it to be something that builds towards the person I want to be in 5 years (whether it's an astronaut or a sous chef). I spent a lot of time staring at walls and having conversations with some of my amazing mentors trying to figure out where I'm going. But somewhere on my 6th hour staring at my wall, it hit me. I realized I'm young. Yes, it's anti-climactic; but I'm young and my interests will probably keep changing. I'm going to continue working on the biggest problems I can find and keep building. Because no matter where it is or what I'm doing, I love building and solving problems. The focus is exploration. So, for now, when I'm describing me in 5 years, I'm keeping it simple. I'm hopefully just "a cool person."

My biggest mistake +

I, like many others, have grown up with an internal desire for results. Part of this comes from the education system and the need for dozens of accolades on a college transcript. This results-oriented mindset isn't necessarily a bad thing. In many cases, it allows me to stop worrying about the process and keep hustling until I get what I need to. But, there's a bigger drawback that I didn't notice until now. In my pursuit of results, I forgot to focus on basic learning. I focused on getting the next job, the next speaking opportunity, or the next article without just taking time to crack open a book and read. I skipped to building without reinforcing my foundation. In the long-run, I'm putting myself at a disadvantage. To solve this, for 2021, I'm prioritizing aimless learning. Allowing myself to explore with no end goal in mind, opens me up to a world of possibilities and ideas that I may have never even thought about before.