Happy new year! It’s time for another annual review in which I look back on how the last 365 days turned out for me. I'll follow a similar structure as last year with these two prompts:
- What went well this year?
- What didn't go well this year?
Before we dive into the review itself, let's get the snapshot portion of this post out of the way. Keep in mind that lists like this always look more glamorous than they actually are:
- Finished up a 6-month digital nomad trial and settled back down in New York
- Improved a ton as a Product Manager at Metabase
- Went on several memorable trips with friends including Las Vegas and Brazil
- Surpassed 3 years in a relationship with my partner
- Published 14 blog posts
- Published 13 newsletter issues
- Finished 6 books
What went well?
🫂 Spending time with those I care about
It proved difficult to spend quality time with the important people in my life when I was in digital nomad-mode. At least to the extent that I would like. Luckily after settling back into a full-time apartment lease, that changed for the better. I saw family members on multiple occasions, was able to hang out with friends again, and spent more time with my partner. All extremely good things that made this year a memorable one.
🤝 Leveling up as a Product Manager
When I wasn’t spending time with others, most of my focus throughout the year went into my role as Product Manager at Metabase. I’ve been doing the PM thing for about 2 years now and I still see “opportunities for growth” popping up all the time. This can be discerning at times, but also tells me I’m heading in the right direction, which is encouraging through the right lens.
While my first year as a PM was about getting the excecution-side of the gig down, this past year felt different, with much more emphasis on managing and running projects at increasingly larger scales. I’m still not great at it, but it feels nice to see concrete improvement in the area. It helps when you work with smart people on a cool product.
What didn’t go well?
📝 Keeping up with creative habits
This is a disappointing one. Writing and reading are some of the most fulfilling activities for me, yet I let myself get away from spending time on them this past year. I need to get better at managing my bandwidth between my full-time job and creative projects. I used to block off an hour for this exact purpose before I started my work day. That worked really well for years.
Since I switched to early-stage startup life and more recently, switched to product management, I’ve struggled to exert the necessary discipline to respect that hour-long block of time in the mornings. Waking up and seeing 3 new Slack notifications where I’m blocking James, Katherine, and Omar from doing their jobs is a tantalizing prospect. It’s tough to see that and then let it sit for an hour, even though I know that I would be more productive long-term and happier short-term if I waited and gave myself that block of creative time. I just need to get better at following through, but hey, this blog post is a start. Let’s keep it going.
🏥 Discipline over health habits
Lack of discipline is a bit of a theme with this “What didn’t go well?” section. I was too lenient with myself in certain areas, which then turned into unhealthy habits, specifially two concrete habits.
First is overeating. I love eating, and don’t really have issues with weight gain, but man do I have trouble stopping once I get going. This normally results in me feeling uncomfortable or lazy as hell. And I’m pretty sure it’s not great for longevity. Second was substance control. I’ve slowly started smoking more and more since I moved to New York. It kind of snuck up on me, but I’ve realized that the nicotine dependence is real. I’m 2 weeks off it right now and I plan to continue that. As a bonus, it’s already making mornings easier to handle and headaches less frequent.
📚 Books I read
I read 6 non-technical books last year. I really got away from my nightly habit towards the end of last year which is a bummer. We’ll do better in 2023 but for now, here’s the list in chronological order from first to last:
- Four Thousand Weeks
- The Making of the Prince of Persia
- Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
- The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball
- The 4-Hour Body
📝 Blog posts I published
I wrote 14 new blog posts. This is much less than the 33 I shipped last year but better than I thought. I was actually on a good pace until the end of the year. I could do a lot more. I just need to show up. Here’s the list:
- This is Water
- 26 Principles for 26 Years
- Theory, Explained
- Meditations on Time
- On Multiplayer Analytics
- Self-Serve Analytics Building Blocks: A Spectrum
- 6 Months Digital Nomading: A Review
- Notes on Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman
- Making Dashboards Suck Less
- Notes on The Making of Prince of Persia
- Notes on Four Thousand Weeks
- Towards Modern Data Apps
- Quick Rules for Travel
- 2021 Year in Review
📬 Newsletter issues I published
I sent out 13 issues of Oversimplified this past year. This is the lowest mark that I started the initial version of this newsletter some seven years ago. Much like writing and reading, this got away from me in the back-half of the year. Plan on hearing from me more often this time around. Here’s the archive:
- Oversimplified: Volume 135
- Oversimplified: Volume 134
- Oversimplified: Volume 133
- Oversimplified: Volume 132
- Oversimplified: Volume 131
- Oversimplified: Volume 130
- Oversimplified: Volume 129
- Oversimplified: Volume 128
- Oversimplified: Volume 127
- Oversimplified: Volume 126
- Oversimplified: Volume 125
- Oversimplified: Volume 124
- Oversimplified: Volume 123