2019 — A Year of Self-Improvement

Naim Ahmed
8 min readDec 26, 2019


a picture of 2019 in fireworks I think, probably sparklers — Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@nordwood

As this will be my last story of the year I thought it would be great to do some reflection, specifically in the area which I felt I have developed most in, self-improvement. This is a look back at some of the things I think I have managed to improve about myself throughout this year.


I’ve realised that just because education has finished for me doesn’t mean I need to stop learning. I realise I enjoy learning about topics more now because they are topics I have chosen myself to learn about instead of a syllabus telling me to. Also, helps when there isn’t going to an exam at the end with the added pressure that brings when trying to cram information into your brain. There is no deadline, no timeframe for me to consume information, I can go at a pace that suits me and take however long I want on a topic. I have recently begun looking at subjects such as psychology and neuroscience to understand more about the brain and more about us as humans, from things like how we interact and why we do certain things. This is obviously not at an academic level and most of the times something simple as watching a Youtube video a day or reading an article on the topic is enough. I am looking at topics that would help me in real life so I could use the information I am learning to help me in certain aspects such as my social skills (which aren’t the best) or trying to understand another persons point of view that is different to mine and being able to have respectful conversations even about things that we may not always agree on.


I had a goal last year to read a book each month. I don’t even have a recollection of the books I did read in 2018. It felt like I was just reading words to pass the time on the commute to and from University. I didn’t achieve the goal of reading 12 books in the end and I read about 5 that year. This year I decided to set myself the same goal, read a book for each month. So far, I have successfully managed to complete this but also this time round I kept track of each book I read for each month and I actually remember the books I have read as I started thinking more of what I was reading and how I could use it in my life. I looked at it from the perspective that even if I just took one thing from a book and nothing else then that book was a success as it benefited me even if it was the smallest thing. This way I do not see the books I read as a waste of my time. I am on my final 12th book for the year and the goal for the next year is to read 20 books. This time I will try to keep a book journal where I write down my own summary after every chapter I have read. Hopefully, this would allow me to remember more of what I have read.


Okay, the weird thing is I never really enjoyed English throughout my school years. It wasn't really I subject I liked or excelled in. I also never really liked writing so I have no idea where this came about. I think when I picked up reading I also wanted to start writing about the things that were on my mind even if I make no sense at all and I am absolutely crap at writing. To be honest no one is really reading this or any of my other stories so not like I will be criticised on my writing anyway ha. Guess it’s just something that can be fun to do when you aren’t being graded and not having to use pathetic fallacy or write about things you have no interest in whatsoever. Again I set myself a goal of writing a story each month and when this story is complete I will have achieved this goal. I am quite proud of this one as I find writing to be much harder than reading as I am having to create rather than consume. I kept this one simple, as I let myself write about whatever I wanted and it did not matter if it made sense or was only a few sentences long. The goal was to write something and publish it as a story on Medium. Simple. The goal for next year is to write 20 stories and I do hope I can improve my writing along the way and start improving. One thing I really need to make sure I try to do is to plan through what I will be writing about and have some sort of structure to follow, so hopefully, it will make some sort of sense when I am writing as this is all over the place right now but I do not care at all at this moment.


I have been learning to try and love myself more. I didn’t always pay attention to myself and it definitely didn't help. I ate like crap (still sort of do), gained weight and felt shit majority of the time. This year I have finally started taking care of myself and practising self-care and focussing on myself. I have started bullet journaling to keep track of my daily goals and check the progress of my short and medium-term goals. I have also recently started to practise gratitude and being grateful for all the things I have instead of looking at what I don't have, even if it’s the little things like access to clean drinking water. I definitely take a lot for granted in my life. Another aspect of self-care is grooming which has become a big part of my self-care ensuring I look presentable not only for others but also for myself (please, that profile picture was taken a while ago, my beard is much neater now, I promise). I have created routines for when I get my haircut, going to the barbers each month, cutting my nails each week and even creating a simple skincare routine for day and night. I didn’t realise skincare wasn’t just for women as I though skincare and makeup were the same things until I actually looked into it and found they were two totally different things. Also, keeping myself clean and the space around me ensuring my bedroom is neat and tidy and trying to give every item in my room a ‘home’ so, I always put it where it belongs. I have also tried meditating but unfortunately, I have not managed to do so successfully and hoping I find better success in the new year.


This was quite a big one for me. I have learned to realise more about myself, my strengths, weaknesses and things about me that were holding me back. I have looked back at moments in my past where I realised I have to take accountability for certain things that have happened in my life and not trying to put the blame on others. I have realised it is my own actions that make me the person I am and even though, others can influence me ultimately I am the only one in control of my life. I have been trying to live more in the present and question the things which I am currently doing in life and asking questions to myself each day has helped me become a better person. I have let too much time pass me by doing the same thing each day and not thinking about any of the things that I was doing and not being concerned about the future. I am now questioning each of the decisions which I make and figuring out the person who I am and the person who I want to become.

Comfort Zone

This was quite a big one for me and is something that is continuously ongoing. I’ve realised I never really tried to get out of my comfort zone and do things that scare me. I have always looked for the easy way whether it be checking the tram timetable to ensure I can get the tram that would be least busy, or skipping my 9 AM lectures so I don’t have to take the peak time tram and be squashed against people. I have begun taking cold showers to practise self-discipline as I have been quick to give up on things when they got harder which I wrote about before. Cold showers have allowed me to constantly do something each day that makes me uncomfortable and I am starting the day doing something I don’t like. It has allowed me to face things that I don’t like and get used to doing things that are hard. Whether or not you think cold showers provide any benefit it not the point (I don't really care much about the supposed benefits it brings), but cold showers are definitely worse than a warm shower no matter what season you’re in. I am hoping to build up my self-discipline so I can use it in different aspects in my life such as waking up early, sticking to a gym routine, eating healthy. This is an ongoing process and there may never be a single end goal where I achieve self-discipline but I hope it is something I can keep building. Self-discipline for me in succeeding and this was the year I finally realised that.

I am always looking to improve myself with each day, each week and month. I am constantly trying to learn things that interest me and open my mind to more things. I want to be a better person for myself first. This is always going to be an ongoing process. As long as I can look back at the end of each year and say that I have grown (not physically, unfortunately :( sad times)then I always see that as a win.

That’s it. I’ve done it. 12/12 stories. One for each month. These stories aren’t perfect and they don’t really make much sense. I am not the best writer in the world and I know no-one reads them but I am doing this for myself. I like being able to put my thoughts into words and it does feel quite relaxing when the writing just flows onto the screen. I have no idea where I am going with this writing thing I am doing but as long I am enjoying it I hope to continue doing it. When writing it sounds much better in my head then when I start trying to type it out it just doesn’t sound as good so, I really need to improve on trying to get my point across because a lot of the times I don’t make much sense. The goal for next year is to write 20 stories for the year 2020 (no correlation with the year) but, as long as I still get 12 stories done then I’ll see that as a success as even one story is better than none. Here’s to a good end to the decade and a great start to the new year and new decade to all the imaginary people reading this :)

P.S — Hope Solskjaer gets sacked we get Pochettino #MUFC