January 3, 2023 — 8 min read
This post is a personal reflection of 2022, looking at how I felt it went for me. I won’t be discussing the merits or flaws of New Year’s resolutions here. It also highlights my 'objectives' for 2023.
2022: it was a good year.
First, let me qualify 2022 with some (vanity) metrics:
I'm sure there are a few other things I've left out, but this list is the (pithy) gist of my 2022.
If I had to apply TJCX's asymmetric returns idea to the above, reading undoubtedly offered the greatest returns compared to the effort required. Reading demanding books or books requiring deep engagement from me has broadened my perspectives and allowed me to think more considerately. Reading grants us access to wisdom and ideas great thinkers have dedicated their lives to, in an accessible and digestible format. We don’t have to spend our lives doing the hard ground work they do but benefit from glimpses into the insights from their endeavours. Of course, this is only truly possible if we grapple with the substance of what we’re reading.
In 2023 I want to take a more leisurely approach to my reading. My 50 book goal for 2022 meant I couldn’t always consume books at an appropriate pace. Good books usually require careful consideration and reflection. Setting a vanity metric of 50 books in 2022 strengthened my reading habit, but putting undue pressure on myself to hasten through some books was stupid. As such, I’ll continue to read daily in 2023 but without a number attached to the number of books I hope to read. I want to read more of the classics and books outside of my domain of knowledge.
I’d like to write more summaries and reviews of the books I read. This has a two-pronged benefit. Writing ‘public’ notes will force me to ensure I understand the books I read (as necessary when summarising and reviewing them). Furthermore, this will hopefully drive more traffic to my site (which is one of the things I’d like to do for 2023).
Moving on from reading more, exercising regularly in 2022 (be it weights, running or just walking) helped me achieve a more stable mood and consistent energy levels. There are enough articles out there preaching the other benefits of exercising. I won't dive into it here. For 2023 I hope to build on my exercise routine by introducing more exercises focused on flexibility. I anticipate I'll face some difficulty finding motivation in the dark and cold of the UK. I think I'll be able to overcome this by joining a gym close to me.
If I had to pick a 3rd place item from my fickle list it’d be daily introspecting and journaling. I suspect prior to actively doing this, I did not give myself enough time to grapple with all the thoughts rumbling about in my head. There was a power vacuum that allowed chaos to overthrow order. I simply went from one day to the next without ever taking a beat and/or checking in on myself. Allocating a moment or two each day to absorb the day past or contemplating the day ahead has brought some semblance of order to the antics of my mind. Spending time in the evening auditing my behaviour and actions has helped me, very gradually, improve my trajectory.
Fumbling on past my silly list above, in 2022 I began to appreciate the unnerving fragility of life more than ever.
I won’t go into the reason(s) that lead to this, but the importance of not sweating the small things and embracing the gift of life is more prevalent than ever in my mind.I wrote a bit about this here
Cowering from turning off auto-pilot is no longer an option. Life needs to be lived. And I don’t mean in the conceited “live, laugh, love” sense. I mean actively recognising it could end at any point and the time to live is now, in the present.
Somewhat ironically, in 2023 I want to be more fearless. Passively living life is a no-go. I want to make bold decisions, take risks and learn to back myself and stare down my fears. As Nietzsche says, “Death is close enough at hand so we do not need to be afraid of life”. The Hero's Journey requires we journey out beyond the ordinary and overcome the challenges that await us in the unknown. Only then can we return victorious. We can never experience the marvellous and extraordinary if we can’t leave the safe lane, the normal, the boring.
So, in 2023 I hope to be more fearless and exile timidity.
I woke up one morning last year with no electricity which left me feeling bitter and resentful towards the government.
Fortunately, my laptop still had power and my UPS helped provide internet access. As such, was able to join my team’s daily standup/catchup. In that morning’s standup, I was primed to let everyone know about the infuriating start to my day. Before releasing my own personal grievances upon the team, I commenced a particularly contrived wellness check - asking the team how they were all doing.
In this shallow song and dance, with me yet to share my own news, I learnt about how missiles had hit the block of flats next door to my colleague’s block of flats in the Ukraine, how they had to take an evening train to get to safety but they were just happy no one was seriously injured.
My pathetic, juvenile frustrations that I was salivating to share instantly dissipated. Perspective came bulldozing right on in and I was hit with a palpable reminder to be grateful for my life and the things I have.
Despite things not being flawlessly perfect for me, I grew more gratuitous in the year past. In 2022 we saw most of the chaos of the pandemic tapering off somewhat, only for war, poverty and humanitarian crises to explode across the globe. My life has been relatively unaffected by most of these events and listening to the stories of colleagues impacted by these events brought me renewed appreciation for everything I have.
With that, I hope to continue to grow more appreciative and grateful in the year ahead; to learn to love and cherish all aspects of my life more, maintaining a healthy level of perspective.
2022 showed me the value of patience and persistence. Long journeys consist of small steps. Frequent habits resulted in large outcomes over the duration of the year.
This revelation was so impactful that I decided to write about it.
I’ll carry the validity of this truth with me into 2023, recognising not all results are instant (spoken like a true millennial). Specifically, I put off a number of projects and ideas in 2022 as they seemed too daunting, too big to even start on. I plan to dive into some of the projects that previously intimidated me, taking small, incremental, stabs at them.
On top of this, I hope to be more diligent in responding to habitual cues with positive routines and rewarding them accordingly.
2022 was a good year.
I experienced good health, gained wisdom, built useful habits, improved the relationships in my life and made headway in my understanding of the world. Dunning-Kruger reared its boastful head several times (and I don’t expect it’ll be particularly shy in 2023 either) but not enough for me to make too much of a fool of myself. I am grateful for 2022 and the lessons I learnt from it.
My view of what life has to offer was sharpened. I found a renewed passion for living life boldly, daring to leap outside of the realm of comfort and the crucial importance of banishing passivity from being. I grew few conscious of relishing the joys of life, unashamedly breathing in all the world has to offer. I began to replace my fears of not doing enough with life with a fierce desire to do more.
I eagerly look forward to 2023 and the adventure to come from it.