Year Review 2023

02.01.2024 | 12 Minutes

Another year is about to finish so it‘s time for a short review. Normally I do this in private (with some friends) but I think this year I'll try something different.

I'll split this article a bit up into several sections so if you're not interested in one you can skip it. Let's start with my initial thoughts and targets for 2023 at the beginning of the year. Since 3 or 4 years every year a friend and myself are defining our main goals for the upcoming year and sharing them with each other to build up some "pressure" to ourself. I defined 5 goals for 2023 some are quite large others are easy to achieve but need consistency.

Defined goals and the results

Planning for Canada 2024: In the middle of 2022 I decided that I want to live in Canada in 2024 for 12 months so I’ve set the goal to plan and prepare this in 2023.

Handover my board member work: Since 2020 I'm head board member of a local sports club. This is something I'll discontinue in 2024 so I wanted to work towards the goal that we have someone who will take over for me.

Conferences: In the past I've done multiple talks at conferences. In 2022 there where also some but nothing really huge. So for 2023 I was planning to give at least 2 conference talks.

Books: I've read 12 books in 2021 and only 5 in 2022. As I love this hobby in my free time it's quite hard to keep doing it with all the things going on. That's why I defined the target of min. 6 books in 2023.

Appointments / free time: As my calendar is really full nearly every week and you can count the free weekends on one hand, I wanted to step a bit down in 2023 and have at least 1 evening per week for me without appointments and ToDos.

Results

2023 had the focus of Canada preparations. Although I still have tasks left, I prepared a lot for the moving to Canada in March 24. I applied for the Visa, checked most parts with my company, booked the first apartment for Halifax, rented a garage for my car and motorcycles, coordinated appointments and where I can store some of my belongings. This leads directly to my expectations for 2024. I'm so excited to move to Canada for 12 months in March. This is going to be a huge adventure and some kind of dream and life goal hopefully comes true. Since years I wanted to live in Canada for a longer time and now, in 2024, I can make this dream come true.

Since 4 years now (from 2020) I'm a board member at the local sports club. While moving to Canada I can no longer do the work there and therefore we needed to find someone else who's taking over. Thankfully we found someone at the Volleyball division who will do the job. I'm really grateful for this, so that the club still has all it's important positions filled with people.

There was a time in my life, around 2016-2018, where I was giving many conference talks about different web technology topics like Ionic, NodeJS, Web Components and more. In the last years I reduced this due to much pressure and stress to a max. 1-2 per year. In 2022 I haven't given any conference talk beside an online one. So I wanted to give 1 or 2 in person in 2023. Sadly due much other topics, see the points above, I haven't found really much time to prepare a new topic and submitting it to an call for papers. So I haven't given conference talks in 2023. The only thing I've done in this direction was giving some workshops for NodeJS topics. That was fun and definitively something I want to keep doing.

Books are my most loved hobby. I've read a lot in my younger times and then stopped it a few years completely. Since I picked it up again in 2020 I'm sticking to it. This also reduced my personal stress-level a lot. After a hard day (or week) taking some time for myself and reading a book makes me happier and I can focus on other things than my daily life. I easily reached my self-set goal of 6 books in 2023 by November and I have read 7 until now (25.12.).

The most annoying part of my target list is the last point. That's because I haven‘t met this goal on any week this year (except in January 2023). That's something I definitely need to change. I need give me at least one evening a week where I do nothing and focus only on things I want to do (like reading). This is maybe one more step to improve my overall health.

Statistics and health

Watching habits

Everyone who knows me a bit better, knows that I love statistics and keep tracking things and plan in preparations. So I also want to analyse, mostly for myself, some statistics of this year.

In the previous sections I've told you that I nearly had no free time in the evenings. This is something you can also see on the statistics. Sine 2013 I'm using the service Trakt.tv to keep track of what I'm watching (movies and series). The cool part is, besides keeping track of the current episode of a show, they provide you yearly statistics on what and how much you have watched. So for reference I took a look at the previous years of 2020, 2021 and 2022:

Year Type Watched Hours
2020 Movies 69
2020 TV Shows 477
2021 Movies 70
2021 TV Shows 364
2022 Movies 35
2022 TV Shows 331

Two interesting things here: I'm more a TV show person than a movie person. Movies really need to track attention from me to make me want to watch them. The second thing is, that the trend is going backwards. Every year I'm watching less looking at the total hours. This now something you can also see for the year 2023: Watched movie hours are 18 and watched TV show hours are 157. That's a drastically decrease and shows, one more, the lack of time (and also interest) on watching more. In comparison this is 52% less watched movies and TV shows. Some other reason for this is, that I'm no longer paying for any streaming service since the summer. They got really expensive and I'm mostly using trial months or sharing the account of a family member for a few weeks if I really want to watch a specific show.

Health

Health is another part where I focused this year a lot. Besides my sports activities I'm already doing, like playing Volleyball 2-3 times a week and doing athletics in the summer I also improved my health overall. I'm tracking now my water intake every day as well as caffeine intake. Also my weight with a bluetooth scale is measured and I'm storing nearly all information inside Apple Health. Since September I picked up running to my weekly sports activities and I build a habit around it. According to my Apple Watch I've done only 7 running workouts in 2022. In 2023 I've done 24. 17 of them in the range from October until the end of the year. I'm actually a bit proud of this. Just on the last day of the year I've done my best 5K run at a local running event.

Me running a 5K run at the last day of the year 2023

One particular thing that improved my overall wellbeing was that I started journaling. First I used Obsidian (see below) but since November I'm now using the new Apple Journal App. I know, it's not the best one but it's doing the business for me. I want to write down some thoughts and things that happen and it improves my overall satisfaction. That's good for me and everyone around myself.

Tracking Expenses

I know, I‘m in a very privileged position as a software engineer earning enough money for everyday circumstances so I definitely don‘t have the need to do this. But since 1st of January 2023 I‘m tracking every expense I‘ve made to see how much money I spend and, more important, where and for what I spend it. Since years (maybe since 2015/2016) I‘m paying everything and everywhere by card (mostly using Apple Pay if it‘s possible). So if I need to withdraw cash mostly I don‘t know where the money is spend because cash can‘t be tracked automatically. That‘s the most reason why I don‘t like cash. Nevertheless I tracked and noted every expense I‘ve made in 2023 and this felt super cool. Not only that I can now analyse where I spend most money I also can now actually see where I can make improve. It also helps to think twice about an expense. Is it really required or just a short reaction to something „oh cool I want it“? So I hardly recommend tracking your expenses. There are plenty of apps out there which helps you with that but you can also do it like myself with a simple Excel sheet. This is also doing the job very well (because what can handle Excel better than numbers?!).

Social Life and Events

In 2023 I enjoyed some really cool events. The year started in February with some Skiing and the wedding of my brother. It was a small wedding with family members only and I really loved it. Shortly after that, at the end of March we travelled for 2 weeks to the east coast of Canada. There we stayed in Halifax and Cape Breton and in the second week in Prince Edward Island and Bridgewater with some friends. I love the scenery and cozy-ness of Canada during the winter. Was my second time there (last time in Montréal in 2018) in winter and that's something I mostly looking forward into the next year again. Also in March my nephew of my brother was born and he's so adorable! Will really miss him during next year. After 2 (or 3) years of pause we had this year again our family get-together from my mothers side. It's a huge family and I always love to see them all. There where actually so much more so I added some here: We played a lot of Volleyball and also had some really great days gathering with friends. We had many birthday parties, went waterskiing and wakeboarding on the river again, I participated for the first time in person at a Formula 1 race in Austria (thanks to PlanB.), I went on 2 holidays with friends (Croatia and Slovakia) and just before Christmas we went to Dresden for a 3 day trip.

Me on the roof of a fire car taking pictures A cove in Croatia with blue water and nice, warm weather

Work Life

Work is taking a huge place in my life. Not only that I "need" to go to work every day, I also love my work and it often feels like a safe space where I can do the things I know best. Since I started at PlanB. in September 2020 the company has developed a huge step forward and I still enjoying every day there. Not just because I like all the people there also because we have interesting projects and the ability to provide our knowledge to make the company better every day. I wrote exactly for this an article a few weeks ago about staying more than 3 years at the same company.

I'm also excited how my work life will be improved in 2024 when I will work from Canada. I'm staying at the company and my boss is super supportive to streamline the process of working outside the EU at PlanB. As I'm now the first one who's doing it for a longer time, we currently figuring out the best process for it and I'm really thankful that I have the opportunity to build this process with the company together and also collecting experience for both side with the working model. I'm super excited for this!

In February I integrated a new habit / tool into my (work) life. I cannot handle my life without the wonderful Things 3 app from Cultured Code for all my day-to-day tasks and future items. To this incredible tool I added Obsidian notes to my daily life. This helped my to keep track of what I'm currently working on and what I achieved in a week/month. I also started to document every meeting I'm participating to have these information later available for myself and all the others if I search for something we talked about. It's actually also the app where I prepare my workshops and articles (like this one right know). I even started to develop my own plugin which adds me a mapbox map from a coordinates block.

Race track of Spielberg, view onto the race track

Side projects

Every developer knows this problem, that you start a ton of side projects in your free time but actually never finish one. That's only partly true in this year. E.g. the blog website with map and tracking for my Slovakia holiday was a side project which worked really well. This is also the base for my current project, my "new" personal website. It will launch before I move to Canada. It will also have article categories because I'll start blogging more frequently and not only about technical and work related things. My blog posts about my time in Canada will be added there as well, so people soon can filter for categories which they're interested in.

I created a website for my girlfriend for her psychotherapist work and also improved and digitalised many processes inside our sports club. This results to less work for everyone who's volunteering at the club. Also in future there will be added even more that makes the bureaucratic stuff in Germany less stressful.

I'm also hoping for 2024 I may can pickup some of my side project ideas and bring them to life. But instead, like in past years, I will not put any pressure on myself in this topic.

Looking at you 2024

I think 2023 was a good year and I'm really excited for 2024. I know, we should no longer have expectations on the new year (looking at you 2020) but I may have the best time of my life coming up this year and I need to admit that I'm really excited for this. And of course I will let it know everyone who's reading this blog.

Cheers to a new year, Aaron