It's that time of year! In this post I do some looking back on what I had planned for this year, how it went, what I learned, and all that good stuff. It's a long one this year!
I am grateful for the opportunities I've had to see friends this year. We made it out to Vancouver and spent lots of time with good friends out there, I made it to windsor to visit another couple and a circle of friends kept up our weekly paint night calls.
As we get older I can see how we grow apart, though, and that does sadden me. I'm not one to try and force things, so at the very least I want to acknowledge this change and keep an eye on it. I think as work (and life) inevitably takes people to different places you also learn to look for community locally. This has meant getting to know neighbours and community groups, which has been uplifting.
As I am wont to do, I set a lot of goals that didn't get completed - but many of them I put a sizeable dent in! Let's check it out:
❌ Do one Digital painting everyday.
I made it about 6 months before I fell of the wagon on this one. I was really making great progress, though! I was using procreate most of the time. I found it fun, but after a while I realized that working on one thing a day was limiting me from exploring what I could do when I took my time. Still glad I tried it.
❌ French Flashcards 85%/year (292/365 days).
This one I also gave up on after about 5 months. I came back in on it in the last few months, but I've dropped off on flashcards a fair bit, and french too. I miss it, and I hope I can find some way to practice intentionally this year.
❌ Complete "how to draw" by scott robertson
No chance on this one. This book was (and still is) way too technical for me. I'm not optimistic that I'll be doing it anytime soon, or perhaps ever. At this point, my honeymoon phase with the hobby of drawing and painting has worn off and I'm not spongeing up each and every resource — now I just want to draw for fun — it's a good place to be.
❌ Stop reading hackernews (Except for weekly digest)
Nope, didn't pull this one off. In the last few weeks I've managed to just check a weekly digest, but... yeah, I still browse in down time.
✅ Read 15+ books
Yep! Read a lot of comics too. See the section on books below for some favourites.
✅ Finish and release Firn
I finished Firn a while ago; pretty close to the start of the year, if I remember correctly.
✅ Quarterly Projects
I managed to do a new project each quarter - read on to the next section for more details on that experiment and how it went.
Projects (one project per quarter)
This one is a bit of a long section, and details the things I tried to build this year and what I learned from doing it.
At the start of 2022 I decided I would try to do one project per quarter. I worked on a game, a cooking web app, a series of paintings and a comic. I managed to finish the paintings and the cooking site, but the game and the comic did not get finished.
This idea of a quarter-per-project was an experiment. I wanted to try a lot of different things this year, but not get too carried away doing something I might not like but felt I should keep doing due to a sunk cost fallacy. Anyway, below is a quick list of what I came away with:
- Building a game was more fun than building a web app
- Breaking into games takes more creative energy and effort than building yet another web-app. It's also difficult to break into the mindset I want to be in where I activate my imagination.
- Building a webapp is more fun when trying / using new tech (thank you Phoenix LiveView)
- I thought the paintings would take longer to do, but because I was working small they didn't really need 3 months of time.
- Comics, like games, take a ton of work. The comic made me laugh the most, since it was a silly story, so I did manage to get the imagination going and have fun.
This was a great way to try a sample of different projects to see which captivated me most. Secretly, I was hoping that I would find a singular passion through which to submerse myself 1. With that said, I would like to entrust the building of web-apps to my work-time and trust that it will provide me with sufficient learning and experience, and go forward more with artistic endeavours. So, in that sense, the experiment was a great success in helping me narrow down my time.
Also, in retrospect, this experiment taught me that I can be less rigid with time. Around a year ago I was still quite enmeshed with PIM (see this post) but that has started to change. I don't feel the need to rush to have a project out / done by a certain time. Now, having a project per quarter almost makes me cringe (probably because using the word quarter makes me feel like a corporate drone).
At the end of the year, I think I learned that I crave expressing my authentical self and I want that to happen through adventures with other people, through exercising the talents and skills I've been privileged to cultivate, and by learning new things.
It was an interesting year for me because I dove deep into comics! If I remember correctly, it started with reading Interviews with Seth as well as Inside Moebius. I also read a balanced amount of technical books, non-fiction, and fiction.
I read a few technical books as well as some self-improvement books, the most useful of the latter being Nonviolent Communication. I read a fair bit of self-improvement books; I find something hopeful and optimistic about them, but I'd prefer not to write about it here as it feels a bit preachy. I'm just doin' me, pal.
I finally made my way through The Brothers Karamazov - I'm not sure how much I really appreciated, but I'm glad I made it through after my false start the other year. I also read Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami and I enjoyed it, about the same I always enjoy Murakami's work.
Looking at my list, I'd like to read a bit more fiction in the coming year. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt comes to mind, as well as The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe, which I've seen recommended a few times.
I started a new job in June, and it's been going well. This site isn't a place for talking about work, for the most part, so I won't dwell too much on this. All in all, I will say I'm grateful to the friend who reached out to me to suggest I join their team. I've learning a lot and I think I've found a place where I'll have sufficient variety, challenging work, and a company who's values mirror mine (more than any company I've come across yet, at least).
Fitness and Exercise
In February I got covid and it fucked up my lungs. I still run out of breath occasionally if I'm talking for extended periods, or climbing stairs. So, with that, after about three months of feeling sad and scared, I decided I should do something about it and try to slowly start exercising.
In May, after finding a new apartment, I decided I would try joinng a gym. This wasn't part of my "goals set at the beginning of the year", but I'm a big fan of "just start a new goal regardless of what time of year it is". I have been doing the 5x5 stronglifts program since May, and have managed to do it consistently 3 times a week, with 2 days of swimming between that. I hope to keep it up in the new year. It improves my mood and I feel more confident. I am more sore, but it's the good kind (and hopefully it stays that way).
I didn't ride my bike as much as I would have liked this year, save for getting around town and getting groceries.
What's next for 2023?
Well, it would appear that I should maybe set some more realistic goals. Or should I set goals at all?. Well, surprise, I already have. But I'm not sure if they are the kind to write up.
I will say, though, that I hope to continue my journey in personal growth and self-improvement. There is a lot to learn about myself. I hope to become a better communicator, work through some stuff™️ with kindness and compassion, and continue living a healthier day to day lifestyle. So, in that sense, I don't so much have a list of daily goals, such as "paint something everyday" 2. If anything. I've become quite the opposite from last year's approach. I'm working toward a newer creed of some kind. It looks something like this:
- Sleep, Diet, and Exercise (body & mind) are at the top of the pyramid. If I can maintain a healthy balance of that, the positive effects will cascade outward to other parts of life.
- When it comes to how I spend my time, I want to ask myself - does this give me energy, or does it drain my energy? and go from there 3.
- Accept that I am a curious person and that means I'm somewhat of a generalist. Let's see where that takes me instead of feeling like I should be an expert or pro at doing one kind of thing!
I think that's all I will say! I can see in this reflection that I'm stepping away from "maker as identify" quite a bit, so I think this year will be interesting. I think I see myself becoming a bit more flexible about what I get into. Rather than have a rigid schedule in which to build something, or a certain domain I push myself to explore, I think it's time to try the opposite.
The experiment continues. I hope you'll join me back here as I poke around and learn some new stuff along the way.
This is actually something of a harmful healing fantasy where I imagine myself to be really good at one thing which will bring me recognition / respect.
I mean, who am I kidding, of course I want to write that down.
Of course, draining things have to be done in life, but for that I also wish to think less about how I should be doing them, so much as that I choose to do them because I want something beyond the completion of a draining task/effort/etc.