Reflections from 2023: Lessons for the future

I recently turned 24 on the 23rd of December 2023.

I felt very empty. I felt lost. I felt a distinct lack of clarity. I didn't know what to do with my life. Everything felt meaningless.

This isn't a new feeling, it has been coming and going for the past year. I've talked to some people about it and the most common advice was:

Get married, get kids, and you won't have such thoughts anymore.

Maybe I'm wrong but I feel like this is very bad advice. This is just like a bandaid. You're not fixing the core problem, you're just running away from it.

Get more responsibilities == being more busy == less time to think

PS. Just before someone says, I should find someone. I'm currently in a relationship and I'm happy with my partner. No kids yet but that can wait a few years.

I think a lot of people are like that

They put their meaning of life to external things. To some, it is their kids. But then once the kids grow up and move out, they feel empty.

For some, it's a career. Once they retire, they feel empty.

For some, it's people. They put all their meaning behind a person, and when that person goes away, they feel lost or worse, "go" away too.

I've come to realize that this is normal to some extent

The reason why I say "to some extent" is that this is a period of reflection and adjustment. A lot of people are stuck in this phase and don't move forward with their lives.

If your not moving forward, your moving backward.

This isn't some new information, I think everyone realizes that at some point. One of the "influencers" I've watched this past year, Dan Koe created this visual that describes what I'm talking about.

How To Make Money As A Creative On The Internet - Dan Koe
Source

Most people are in the bottom left part of the diagram and that's where it can get dangerous.

Thankfully, I'm very blessed in my life and have gotten myself out of this situation many times before. It's not easy but the more times you do it, the more structured the process becomes.

Chaos -> Clarity (Tamerlan's Edition)

There really isn't a step-by-step plan for getting out of chaos as every situation is different. But I have some general principles that always help me.

Principle 1: Get your foundations straight

Before going on the journey of figuring out your life, you have to first get your base ready. By that I mean, fixing things like sleep, diet, exercise, etc...

You don't have to do them all at once. Pick something, fix it, and move on to the next thing. For me, my foundations are:

  • Sleep – Make sure to sleep and wake up at appropriate times.
  • Diet – Eat three solid meals a day.
  • Exercise – Work out at least twice a week.
  • Cleanliness – Keep your house clean and organized.
  • Meditation – Meditate at least ten minutes a day.
  • Relationships – Keep in contact with your loved ones.

Principle 2: Write down your values and goals

Values are your non-negotiables. It's bigger than goals. It's how you want to live your life.

I can't give you any tips for defining your values but make sure to write them down somewhere. Once you write down your values, it's much easier to develop healthy goals.

Healthy goals are goals that align with your values.

Principle 3: Prioritize Creation

I believe that humans are made for creation. Creation brings joy and purpose in life. So for whatever goals, you have set for yourself make sure most of them are creation goals.

Instead of saying, "I want to read 20 books this year."

Say, "I want to write 20 book reviews this year".

One focuses on consumption and the other focuses on creation.

This isn't to say that I haven't done well this year

This year was life-changing.

This was the year where I had most developed my mental and emotional states. I've come to realize that I wasn't a "nice" person. I was mean to people, I hurt a lot of people with my words and actions, and feel very guilty about them.

But at the same time, I've learned to forgive myself and others.

I've learned to listen to my feelings and not let them control me. I'm not saying I'm perfect in this yet but at the very least, now instead of "being" angry, I "feel" anger.

Instead of being sad, I feel sadness. I hope you get my point.

This change was the result of me being in many difficult situations with other people and being exposed to meditative practices. I've meditated before but never actually studied spirituality until I came across Sam Harris and his app Waking Up.

Other Notable Achievements

Career

I'm doing well professionally, I've realized that I love building stuff for developers and am into DevOps more specifically platform engineering.

I've done some work on that this year at Volvo Cars. I'll continue investing in that heavily this year and transition to a full-time role in that space.

Here are some quick lessons I learned regarding work:

  • Pursue high-impact tasks as they are the ones that will push your career forward.
  • Work with interesting people as much as possible. I wouldn't have known my love of developer tooling if I hadn't worked with the platform team at my company.
  • Burnout happens from meaningless work. If you truly like something then go all out.
  • This might sound contradictory to the advice above but always remember to prioritize your relationships and mental/physical health over work.

Content Consumption (Books, Videos, Courses)

I've consumed a lot of content this year, most notably:

  • Read 30 books
  • Subscribed and read lots of newsletters about entrepreneurship
  • Took a few tech courses on Udemy.
  • I watched ALL of ThePrimegeans videos and other tech channels too.

In my opinion, I took this a bit too far. I used it as a procrastination mechanism. If you want to learn more, then check out my article on it:

Productive Procrastination: A Programmer’s Edition
If you look at my YouTube history, you would mostly see one face.

Fitness

I've learned a lot about fitness this year, especially with keeping sustainable training and diet programs.

When I first started lifting, I was really into powerlifting-style training but that burnt me up after a few months which made training very unenjoyable and inconsistent.

So I had periods where I would train for like 3-6 months consistently and then skip 3-6 months which reset all my gains.

I've learned that:

  • Working out is something you do for life. So do whatever you can to make it sustainable.
  • Eat your veggies, it's more important to be healthy than to be jacked.
  • Be very careful with change because it can ruin your consistency and that is the most important thing.

Content Creation

I haven't written as much this year but I should have posted at least 20 articles. This is by far my biggest disappointment.

If I had to guess the main reason why I haven't written as much is due to the lack of clarity. I always write forward, meaning that I would pick a technology to learn and write about it.

But this year there wasn't anything specific that I wanted to learn outside of work. I was also very confused about my future as a software engineer, so didn't know which direction to move to.

Anyway, I don't want to make a lot of excuses. Next year I'll do a lot more content as I have more clarity on what I want to learn and share.

Entrepreneurship

This year I took the leap of faith and started creating my own products. I have a lot to say about this but I already wrote an article on it. It contains all the lessons I've learned about indie hacking.

I’ve been indie hacking for a few months. Here’s what I learned.
Ever since I’ve started to lurk on Twitter, I’ve been introduced to the world of indie hackers. If you don’t know what that is, it’s essentially creating your product from scratch without any ridiculous investments from VC firms. The goal here isn’t to build a billion-dollar business but something that

Closing Thoughts

This year was difficult but a great year nonetheless.

Expect some more content next year on DevOps and spirituality.

Finally, I would like to end things off with one of my favorite quotes by Alex Hormozi.

Extraordinary results come from doing ordinary things over a long period of time.