2021 results: career, life and other things

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I want to share how 2021 passed for me.

At the beginning of this year, I wrote down 19 goals for my life and career. I failed 5 of them, 1 became not actual due to various reasons, 2 were partially completed, and 11 were successfully achieved. I think this was good enough :)

  • This year, I got an opportunity to switch from NLP to CV within my current company and took it - I wanted to try working in CV long ago. I have worked on a video super-resolution project, and it was fascinating. After some time, I became a TechLead of an R&D team in CV. There are many interesting activities, for example, working with an AI chip;
  • I made a personal website at last! I had plans to do it for a long time, but only this year could I bring those plans to fruition. I try to write paper reviews regularly and wrote ~20 this year;
  • I have started studying algorithms and data structures. My fragmented knowledge was enough so far, but I felt that I should fix this knowledge/skill gap. I’m solving Leetcode and going through an algorithm course. For me, it isn’t interesting or fun, but a necessity;
  • My latest paper review was about NL-Augmenter, and you can read it yourself for more information. Still, basically, there was a call for contributions to a new text augmentation library, I contributed. Now I’m a coauthor of the paper, and this was an important achievement for me;
  • I spent less time on Kaggle this year - published only one notebook and took part in two competitions (one was in-class, another one resulted in a bronze medal). Maybe I’ll be more active again in the future, but not sure.
  • Gave 8 talks/interviews - more than I have expected!


I read many books and novels, and this year wasn’t an exception. Goodreads shows 28458 pages read this year, and not all the books I read were accounted for. There were only two books relevant to my career, but both were quite good.

  • Cultural Map explains how people from different countries perceive the world and act. There are eight characteristics, which result in a lot of combinations. The author shows many examples of people from different cultures having difficulties aligning with each other. This is a wonderful book and is quite useful not only for job-related communications but also for casual interactions;
  • Atomic Habits was a reread. It is a helpful book with practical advice on forming habits;

While the books above are good for my career, I prefer reading Fantasy because these books are a balm for my soul :)

  • This year, there were two new books in the Cradle Series. Currently, this is one of my favorite series. It can be described as a western version of Xianxia. This is a story of a boy who starts with almost no magic powers but becomes one of the best. The plot is interesting, the worldbuilding is excellent, and a wonderful cast of main characters. I reread this series many times :)
  • I didn’t listen to audiobooks for a couple of years and decided to try them again this year. After listening to ~10 books, I think I prefer to read new fantasy books, but listening to the known old books is fine. And it is useful to listen to career-related books too;
  • Mage Errant is another great series about a magical world. Many characters are quite rational; the magic system itself is quite scientific - I really liked that. Another interesting aspect of the book is about people with mental or physical problems living in a magic world and using magic to mitigate some of their problems;
  • I read multiple fanfictions this year and really liked Cinnamon Bun - this is one of the most wholesome and positive stories I have ever read :) A beam of light after multiple grimdark novels;
  • A Practical Guide to Evil - this is one of my favorite stories now, maybe in top-5 in terms of the impact. It is shy of 3 million words and will be finished soon. The world is wide and diverse, the story is interesting, the characters are fun and cool, the humor is great, a lot of attention is devoted to politics, economics, diplomacy, logistics, etc. There were many plot twists that I didn’t expect. I especially like the concept of meta-manipulation stories. One of my favorite quotes:

“I like him,” Kairos mused. “He’s got that, what do you call it?”

“Cold-blooded ruthlessness,” I said.

“No, that’s not it. Ah, a knife,” the Tyrant of Helike said. “He’s got a knife.”

And there are exploding undead goats!

  • Bastion. Several years ago, I read all the books by this author and liked most of them. Then, several months ago I got a letter offering to join an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) team to get early access to his new book in exchange for the review. It was a unique and fun experience for me :)

General results:

  • I procrastinate a lot. The worst time waster - idle games
  • This year, I started drawing! I wanted to try long ago, and this year I was able to find enough time and motivation for it. Currently, I’m studying using drawabox. It is pretty challenging but good at developing fundamental skills. I think I have filled more than one thousand lists of paper already. And I try to repeat tutorials by artwithflo
  • Meditation. Previously, I tried meditation several times but failed. Now I was able to find a suitable way of doing it (by listening to calm music and focusing on my breathing) and feel that it helps;
  • Thinking in terms of You don’t “have” to. You “get” to really helped me power through boring but necessary things. And another thought, Do I really want to get better at this? helped me to deal with procrastination;
  • I rarely buy special editions of books, but there was a Kickstarter for the Stormlight Archive last year, and I decided to take part in it. This year I got the books, and they look gorgeous!
  • Living during the covid-19 pandemic is tough. There is a lot of negativity and uncertainty around. Also, before the pandemic, I was used to taking part in many career-related meetups, and they are gone now. Some of the events are happening online now. Still, they lack the feeling offline events and networking is different. At least I’m vaccinated;
  • I set some goals on physical, activity and they were partially successful. For example, even with working from home, I was able to reach ~12k average steps per day;
  • This year, I have learned about aphantasia. I have thought it is normal that I can’t conjure a detailed and colorful image in my mind, but it turns out that this isn’t normal, and many people can do this just fine!
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