Preetam D'Souza

My 2021 Year End Review

What went well, what didn't go well, and what I learnt in 2021.

For the first time in a long time, I have decided to put together a year end review—and, you know, actually publish it.

Here's the plan:

  1. What went well
  2. What didn't go well
  3. What I learnt

What went well

Mirai Labs — I was able to 10x our revenue! This is the single accomplishment I am most proud of this year. It is incredibly satisfying to do what you love and do well. And trust me, we're just getting started. (If you'd like to work with us to build something awesome, get in touch.)

Music — I've been writing a lot of new music regularly. I got kind of obsessed with synthesizers so I've been tinkering around with several softsynths as well as hardware synths to get a hang of them. It's really mind-blowing what you can do once you understand how they work. I still have a long way to go but I'm not totally lost anymore at least. Also, my YouTube covers have been doing really well. My two most recent videos (1, 2) became my two most popular ones of all time. My subscriber count also grew more this year than ever before. I plan to keep up the momentum in 2022!

What didn't go well

Releasing things — I have an annoyingly persistent habit of making things and not releasing them. Some of this is due to perfectionism, some of it from being lazy, but most of it is from taking too long tweaking something and my interest eventually fizzling out. I plan to be extra conscious of the 80/20 point and force myself to just release my project if I'm at the point where it has value and nothing noticeably changes after a work session. So if you see some things in 2022 that aren't as ultra-polished as I usually'll know why. But on the plus side, I hope I will practice the art of shipping regularly, and that eventually my speed producing quality content will improve as well.

Training — I completely tore my right distal biceps tendon at the end of April and was out of the gym (and using my right arm in general...) till the end of September. Even now I am continuing to rehab my bicep to full strength. I am being especially cautious with loaded supinated positions (chin-ups, curls, back levers). Obviously, I did not set any PRs this year because of my injury. However, I am incredibly thankful that medical science has found a way to re-fuse a torn bicep tendon and for having a great surgeon who patched me up and assures me that my bicep will be back at 100% again once I nurse it back to full strength. Looking back on it, I think this experience was invaluable: it forced me to re-evaluate my training to make sure I consider not only muscle, but connective tissue when programming. I plan to continue rehabbing my bicep back up to 100+% strength and setting some PRs again—safely—soon!

Reading — I barely read for the second half of the year once Mirai started picking up steam. I plan to block off an hour for reading in the afternoon and before bed from now on.

Sleep — I've been pulling a lot of long work days and weeks recently. Sleeping 5-6 hours was pretty common the past couple of months. The lack of sleep is limiting my growth from training and it has to change. I plan to set a hard deadline on stimulating activity (programming, making music, writing, etc.) so I don't get carried away into the wee hours of the night.

Meditation — I had a very strong meditation practice last year but I lapsed into inconsistency this year. I plan to get back to a schedule that worked well for me in 2020: training around 11AM for 1-2 hours, taking a shower, meditating for 20 mins, eating a huge lunch, and taking a nap.

Japanese — I didn't study any Japanese this year. I think I even forgot some kanji that I had learnt previously. I plan to purchase WaniKani, which worked really well for me through the free tiers, and make a serious dent in the 2000+ kanji I still need to learn.

Travel — I barely travelled or met up with friends this year. This is unfortunate because I've travelled and lived in different places regularly since college. There's something completely liberating about packing up and going somewhere new. But since 2016 I've stayed mostly in one place, primarily to focus on Mirai (and Maru at the time). The COVID panic hasn't helped either. On the plus side, my wanderlust has been steadily growing and I plan to thoroughly quench it with extensive adventures next year!

What I learnt

The right opportunity can change everything faster than you can imagine. One of Mirai's clients was our largest source of revenue this year and what I thought would take a whole year happened within a few short months. Be ready to rock 'n roll when opportunity knocks.

Word of mouth is surprisingly potent. Several of Mirai's clients this year came to us on recommendation from previous clients. This marks another year we haven't had to do any outbound sales. Provide excellent service and it will be noticed.

Just give it a go and see what happens. What ended up being my biggest client started out as a random inquiry that didn't seem that exciting at first. First impressions can be misleading. If you aren't locked in to a long-term commitment, it isn't a big deal to just try it out and see what happens.

Lean on experts to take care of things that are boring for you. I hired an accountant this year for Mirai and it's oh-so-easy to do my taxes now. I also got to work with an amazing physical therapist to rehab my bicep during the early recovery phase from surgery. Spending money to save your time and energy for things that spark joy is 100% worth it.

Be skeptical of information being fed to you. The madness of crowds is real. Pay close attention to the incentives that motivate the people you listen to—when the incentives are overwhelmingly one-sided, your B.S. detector should be going off hard. Do your homework, evaluate the data yourself, weight your analysis against the world, and come to a conclusion that makes sense to you regardless of popular opinion.

Be wary of ideological movements of any kind. Every ideology is, by definition, wrong because it sees the world through a single, heavily smudged, lens. To see Truth, you need to see her clearly from every possible point of view. Claiming you found Truth when all you've really seen is the haze cast from the oily crap on your lens is embarrassing at best and lethal at worst. Let go of the ideological baggage, see the world as it is, not what you want it to be, and study it from all angles before you come to a conclusion.

You don't need the perfect setup—just do it. I used to obsess over the program I used to write. I'd try Google Keep, Apple Notes, vim, iA Writer, etc. All of this was a total waste of time. I just use TextEdit now in plain text mode so I can't fuss with any fancy settings and actually, you know, write.

Drawing 2021 to a close

I could go on endlessly about my takeaways for this year but, as promised, I don't want to endlessly tinker, lose interest, and never publish this. So I'm calling it a wrap here.

Here's to another year of learning and growth! Let's make 2022 the best one yet!

Preetam D'Souza
January 1, 2022