Belated birthday resolutions

Sooo... the end of the world didn't happen. Continuing the 2010-initiated tradition, here are my thoughts on 2012 and beyond.

Table of contents:

  1. Why?
  2. Thanks, previous year!

    1. 2011.1 Understand my place on the web
    2. 2011.2 Take more risks
    3. 2011.3 Take more steps back, think ahead
    4. 2011.4 Use the power of choice
    5. 2012.1 Improve social life
    6. 2012.2 Eat less meat
    7. 2012.3 Develop management/leadership skills
    8. 2012.4 Learn about emerging markets and ideas
  3. What now?

    1. Regular body strengthening and stretching
    2. Travel and unwind
    3. Avoid processed foods
    4. Write and read more
    5. Take point/responsibility and lead something
  4. Onward, I say!

Why?

It's a recent tradition. Every year, so much changes that reflecting on the past is a wonderful and gratifying learning experience. This year I'm going to do things a bit differently, as I am looking back two years.

I wrote a similar post after my last birthday.

Thanks, previous years!

Here's what goals I focused on achieving for 2012 in my last entry:

  1. Improve social life
  2. Eat less meat
  3. Develop management/leadership skills
  4. Learn about emerging markets and ideas

And 2011:

  1. Understand my place on the web
  2. Take more risks
  3. Take more steps back, think ahead
  4. Use the power of choice

Going to look back two years and see how things have changed.

Starting off with 2011 first.

2011.1 Understand my place on the web

2011 Grade: D+
2012 Grade: C

In 2011, I started my own company after working at Mozilla. That actually helped me understand that the web is huge. In retrospect, it's good to have worked in different spaces on the web already. I am still in search of what my place is.

I've also met lots of founders trying to change the (web-)world in lots of different ways. Inspiring. Motivational. Hopeful. And yes that helped me understand what the web could be about much more than before.

But my gut feeling is that I still don't get what I am most the passionate about. Kind of a carry-over. I guess understanding one's place in the world is not exactly a one-year kinda goal.

I am re-concluding that the main reason I'm not doing well with this is that I'm not comitting much time to the web as a social medium. To mediate that, I'm setting a goal for more involvement in the coding world, and more blogging.

2011.2 Take more risks

2011 Grade: A-
2012 Grade: A

Great. Can do even more to get out of my comfort zone. For 2012, taking more risks has continued to be on my agenda.

  1. Changed jobs from a CTO/founder to early-stage engineer.
  2. From zero to regularly rock climbing, dancing, kiteboarding and snowboarding.

More details:

  1. I decided to leave my startup behind (SoWink), and move on to a different startup, as an early engineer instead of a founder. My long-term goals are to try things out on my own, and I am enjoying the opportunity to handle those at Humble Bundle. I am looking to learn more about building a product, prioritizing, organizing and generally keeping things running smoothly. Balancing engineering with product is something I will continually improve.
  2. Being serious about rock climbing, dancing, kiteboarding and snowboarding is something I am very proud of. The risks involved here are primarily physical. And it may not seem related, but the ramifications of taking on physical risks as well as career risks are very much relevant. My confidence and ability to understand things for how they are has gone that much further. I also took some emotional risks this year and I am looking to take more risks on all levels.

Learning from one's risks, turns out, can come much later. I am still learning from the risks I took in 2011.

2011.3 Take more steps back, think ahead

2011 Grade: B
2012 Grade: B

I'm about as happy with my performance of my time perspective as I was before. I still want to think further ahead. I would almost say B+, but that would be to make myself feel better.

Really, the reasons I am not an A here are:

  • I do not have much of an idea what I want to do in the next few years.
  • I don't plan ahead more than a few months, and even that pretty rarely.
  • I do not keep good track of where my time goes.

The positives are:

  • I adapt very well to a change in schedule.
  • I commit to sticking to hobbies (dancing, rock climbing, board skills).
  • I often stop to think about what is important in life.
  • Career-wise, I have been very focused on learning and finding fulfillment.

2011.4 Use the power of choice

2011 Grade: A
2012 Grade: A

I have been proactive about my choices. The main challenge here has been dealing with increasing responsibilities (moving several times, taking on many hobbies and increasing workload at the same time). All-in-all I should be heading towards an A+, but that's not happened yet for two reasons:

  • getting more organized
  • reminding myself how powerful choice really is. It's life-changing.

2012.1 Improve social life

Grade: A-

I would go as far as saying that I have found a home this year. Moving to San Francisco, meeting a large number of people, and making regular friends. I am still missing more friends (though that's probably because I'm such a social butterfly), and I've been proactive about making more.

A new approach is to determine more hobbies for myself and get into communities that will automatically turn into friends. Examples include kiteboarding meetups, yoga groups, and some relaxed activities perhaps. More on this below.

2012.2 Eat less meat

Grade: B

I've been regularly thinking about how much meat I eat. I did much better at this in the first half of the year. I lived in a vegetarian home, so not eating meat was easy! I still rarely cook meat at home.

After trying this out and somewhat succeeding, I'm debating whether my goal should be to only eat meat from animals that are treated properly, or give up meat altogether. Meanwhile, I am adjusting my goal to eat less processed foods. More on this below.

2012.3 Develop management/leadership skills

Grade: B

Part of this was given due to my job. Working at a small startup inevitably involves:

  • taking point on new challenges
  • taking ownership of aspects of a product
  • constantly improving internal processes as the team and product grow
  • understanding of scalability and performance

Most of what I could do better here revolves around:

  • understanding priorities for a product
  • being more confident in technical product decision
  • doing more pair programming and team building
  • focus much more on what innovation and skills I can bring to the table to really make the product and team shine

2012.4 Learn about emerging markets and ideas

Grade: A-

In a larger sense, the goal here is to be more organized and keep up to date with the reading I have. However, I met many people working in different markets. While most of them had to do with technology, I've been monitoring what's "hot" more carefully than in the past.

I am looking to stay on top of my readings better, and be more consistent about keeping up with into the economy, money, markets and new products.

What now?

This year had some interesting goals. I will keep working on them. Higher priorities, however, go to a few new ones for 2013.

  1. Regular body strengthening and stretching
  2. Travel and unwind
  3. Avoid processed foods
  4. Write and read more
  5. Take point/responsibility and lead something

Regular body strengthening and stretching

In 2012 I've taken on exercising more seriously. This has brought up important points about the strengths and weaknesses of my body. I've been sore and hurt a few times. Nothing out of the ordinary, but I wouldn't mind being generally more athletic. Making it an official goal should help!

The following would be good:

  • Yoga and regular streching (morning/evening routines)
  • Muscle strengthening (e.g. through rock climbing, running, board sports, gym, etc)
  • Regular chiropractor visits

Ultimate goal: less muscle imbalance, more upper body strength, more tone, more relaxed back and neck muscles, and better posture.

Travel and unwind

2012 was a busy year. After coming out of my own startup, I plunged into another, and have taken little time to step back and think. I feel pressed to do that. While I have been pushing my career forward, I have not thought out the implications and possible paths I am about to embark on.

I am also big on travel, and 2012 was not a highly traveled year for me. As such, I want to spend more time reflecting, unwinding, and traveling.

  • Spend regular time reflecting, alone and with others. At least 2-3 hours a week would be good.
  • Travel to Europe, at the very least visit Romania for 2 weeks.
  • Ideally, explore countries that are more significantly different than my past visits. Examples include South America, the Mediterranean, the Netherlands, etc.
  • Take some time off to unwind and think about the future (next 2-5 years). This includes taking at least two 4-day vacations.

Ultimate goal: to become more aware of the limitations of time, how much I can achieve, and understand myself better. Also, to relax and focus on what is truly meaningful and fulfilling for my life. Exposure to different cultures and countries would help enlighten my life path.

Avoid processed foods

After trying out eating less meat in 2012, I'm ready to move on. I have done relatively well without much struggle, and made conscious efforts that, when I do eat meat, most of the time I know it was raised and treated properly.

Continuing that trend, however, my effors are now directed not towards eating less meat, but eating less processed food. Processed food is typically full of preservatives, additives, and unnecessary ingredients and often cheaper alternatievs (e.g. cheaper oils/fats, corn starch, other substitutes).

The idea here is similar to the Paleo diet, but more flexible. Here is the gist of what I aim for:

Yes:

  • grass-fed, pasture raised meats
  • eggs and dairy from pasture raised animals
  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • mushrooms
  • nuts

No:

  • snacks, crackers, or generally any wrapped stuff
  • soy-based products (this'll be tricky)
  • low on grains (oats OK, bread OK in low quantities, occasional desserts)
  • processed oils

Ultimate goal: to feel more alive, more energetic, and keep chemicals away from my body. Also, to be more environmentally responsible and help promote a meat industry that I believe is sustainable.

Write and read more

In 2011-2012 I have written very little. VERY little. I feel the need to change that. It's important enough that I want to constantly monitor myself about it, and set a concrete goal.

I also have a large pile of books waiting to be read. Time to get on those as well.

Concretely:

  • write at least one blog entry per month for the year (this one doesn't count)
  • read at least 150 pages per month (4-6 books this year)
  • read more about particular topics
    • management
    • coding
    • self-growth
    • emerging markets
    • economy, investing, finance
  • contribute more open-source projects and write about them

Ultimate goal: promote reflection and self-growth, explore interests and sharpen my current abilities. Also, reading is fun!

Take point/responsibility and lead something

After trying my luck at leading a company, I have gotten the taste for leadership and responsibility. I am excited about exploring this. As my interest persists, I aim for the next few years to become more about communication, collaboration and pushing my comfort zone towards developing a product and playing an important role in leading a project. As such, I challenge myself to:

  • at work, lead some (uncomfortable) part of a project
  • in my personal life, find a new activity, hobby, destination or passion on my own and stick with it

One of the habits I exercise often is trying out new things. This year, I hope to find a new hobby. Of course, while I am doing this, I intend to keep kiteboarding, snowboarding, dancing and rock climbing at my best ability. I am interested in seeing how these hobbies will develop over time as new ones come by.

Ultimate goal: Become more comfortable and empowered on my own. Grow my personal life and career into new territories that interest me.

Onward, I say!

Around next new year, I will report back.

Thank you all who contributed to my life in 2012. It has been a wonderful ride with lots of new, exciting friends, enligthtening choices and promising future possibilities!

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