I have not done a proper annual review on my blog for any past year. But since this time I tried planning for the year in a proper way, I think it makes sense to write a review post too. There is no structure to this yet and I will not start with a top down goal-by-goal review. Rather I will organize thoughts in a few categories and keep improving the structure as years pass by.
In the main, 2023 was much better than 2022 for me. I like to believe part of this was because I did a better job of planning and execution throughout the year. This was helped with some investment on a few tools and techniques upfront.
1. Learning & Projects
One of the major gripes I had with past few years was this feeling of being stuck in terms of learning and creating something on a regular basis. I was still adding value somewhere but not in my sense of self-worth.
This year brought a pleasant change in this regard. While not to a level I would like, I was able to chase pure learning goals and work on a few interesting projects:
- I switched my layout to Colemak-DH to help with my RSI.
- I was able to get into zettelkasten with the help of Org-roam, and picked up Android during the year to make a mobile app to fill some gaps in the workflow.
- Reading wise I went to a more satisfactory state.
- A few other small projects, gave one talk at EmacsConf, hacked around an old kindle to make a photoframe, upgraded my home automation set up, migrated to a lot of self-hosted workflows, made a few fountain pen inks from scratch, and wrote non-zero amount of posts on this website.
At work, I was able to work on projects that intellectually stimulated me more than the previous ~2 years. Though I believe this feeling was also coming from leaks from my non-work work this year. My most meaningful work days were days when I spent a big section of time on non-work things like working on a personal project as soon as I wake up, reading for an hour in the middle of two meetings, taking a nap during work time, etc. I have found these to help me focus and produce higher quality output in whatever time I do spend on work. This is probably not surprising to anyone who tries productivity hacking, but I think it's an important realization to note nevertheless.
In some ways, the changes from previous section had a shape of getting-back-to-something-I-know. But I went through more novel changes in my personal life. One really big step for me and my partner was adopting a cat. He is a 3-4 years old rescue who sneaked in our lives via a temporary foster commitment. Just going through many challenging and happy moments with him grew both of us a lot.
I attempted losing some weight this year and was able to get there relatively early. I started investment and becoming more financially-aware in general which I hope has helped but I do not know that yet.
I am not a traveller or generally outgoing person but with the help of my partner (polar opposite), I did a lot more travel this year. More importantly, I was able to actually figure out my why for travelling which has made me add travelling goals for the next year's list without any external push.
Cricket World Cup happened in India this year. Last time was 2011 when we won. I was hoping to feel a similar euphoria. But then this happened. Surprisingly it didn't hurt as much as 2017 CT final or the 2019 WC semis. Maybe I am finally able to leave what I can't control.
3. What didn't work out?
Two clear failures were: me trying to learn Kannada and driving. I didn't make any progress on these and am wondering why.
Additionally I found it hard to set up sustainable health routines. The beginning of this year was good in terms of me experimenting with diet and workout habits, but I left many of the good practices from there after 4-5 months.
I also realize that I could (and should) spend more of my time in ML related pet projects which have historically given me higher satisfaction than other kinds of work.
I recently came to see—objective chronological aspects aside—that long life could also be read from a perception of mind angle. The more memories you create (by more experiences, or being mindful, etc.), the longer the perceptual duration is. From that perspective I can clearly say that 2023 was the longest year of my life till now.
It's hard to sum up a full year and I will try to experiment more with how I can do this, but I am okay with writing this much for 2023. For 2024 and beyond, I am upgrading my goals to cover more intermittent time horizon as compared to just having life-scale and next year goals. Looking forward to them!