Last year, my friends Jordan and Zack inspired me to start the tradition of writing a yearly reflection. You can find their 2018 reflections here and here. If you're curious, you can find my 2017 reflection here.
A rare semi-professional headshot
Now before I dive into this year's somewhat belated reflection I want to say that I will mostly be focusing on my favorite parts of 2018. The things I want to double down on in 2019.
That's not to say there weren't failures. There were a lot. That's not to say I know where I'm going. Most of the time I have no fucking idea. Sometimes I feel alone. Other times I feel like I'm not working hard enough.
But I'd say I'm fairly self-critical. I've already spent enough time thinking about those things. So with that out of the way - let's get on with it 😉.
Last year I set two goals: "Transitioning into 2018, I'd like to set the intention to be more present. For me, this means making meditation a priority and keeping social media usage to a conscious minimum. On top of this, I'd like to make 2018 the year I launch a real project on producthunt."
I'm pretty happy to say that in 2018 I launched my first real product on product hunt! I've since shut it down for a number of reasons, but it was a great experience and I learned a ton doing it. More than anything it that starting a successful internet business is hard, but there's no magic. It just takes work and patience.
I'm still super interested in the gap year/alternative education space. I think there are some really huge opportunities. It scares me to say this but probably my biggest and only real goal in 2019 is to try again. I have fond memories of building the site when I was supposed to be thinking about Chemical Engineering and doing a complete redesign in a ~2 days when my friend Daniel sent me a new design.
I set a goal on Goodreads to read 40 books last year, not thinking much about it, or thinking that I would really get close. I ended up finishing 36 books - easily more than any other year of my life. Now obviously the number of books you read is a very flawed metric. The number of books you read doesn't really matter. But it is a semi-decent indication of how much you make reading a priority.
I learned so much from developing curiosity and a strong desire to read in 2018. Here are the 4 books that probably influenced my thinking the most.
So in 2019, I want to double down on reading, with a few special intentions:
- Don't keep track of how many books you read or try to finish books you're just not that into.
- Read as few books written in the past 10 years as possible. In 2019 I want to stop choosing books based on their current popularity even if subconsciously.
I published 44 posts on my blog in 2018, and also started a weekly newsletter that has been going for 18 strong weeks.
In 2019, I hope to keep publishing the newsletter every single week and writing the occasional blog post. The newsletter serves as a mini-weekly reflection for me. Each week I am forced to take an hour or two and audit my time. What did I read this week? What did I spend my time doing? What do I wish I hadn't wasted my time doing? What bugs me? What excites me?
In addition, having a newsletter is like having my own little community. Every week I get a chance to interact with friends and family and typically get a few responses. Thank you to anyone who took the time to write to me ❤️
I had a blast attending South By South West with my friend Hunter...despite getting super sick afterward from going into the trip sleep deprived, free drinks on the plane, and barely sleeping every night of the trip.
Do it for the 'gram
I did my first solo travel trip ever after graduating. ~2 months in Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Myanmar. I learned to ride a motorbike. Then road proceeded to ride it on some of the sketchiest roads in Myanmar and Thailand. I learned to cook Thai food for real. Let's be real - I'm still an amateur but I'm more than good enough to impress white people.
I learned how easy it is to just buy a ticket and go. I learned what it's like to be on the other side of the planet, no absolutely no one, and have to figure things out. I learned that you don't need a ton of money to travel the world (if you choose your location wisely). I lived fairly extravagantly and spent <4k including airfare over 2 months.
I also learned that partying with strangers in foreign countries just isn't that interesting to me. I actually wish it was, but that's just not why I travel.
I lived without a sim card for two months ... and never went back. If you've texted me in the last 6 months and I didn't respond... now you know why. It's shockingly easy to get around without a simcard.
In 2019, I hope to continue living my daily life with no sim card and do a lot more travel.
So far I'm off to a good start with Montreal already in the books, a trip to Minnesota coming up, and hopefully a trip to Japan in late 2019 or early 2020. Going to Europe is still pending how long my sister decides to stay 😊.
In addition, I'm hoping to get to some of the nearby national parks, and also attend my first music festival (I know I know, I said I didn't like partying with large crowds of strangers but you have to admire my commitment to trying to enjoy it).
I've talked about how the experiences vs things dichotomy is kind of a marketing ploy, but in the same way that I get pleasure from buying things I've always wanted to buy, I also really loved getting the chance to try things I've always wanted to try in 2018. Devoting time and money to learning something purely for pleasure is a luxury I am incredibly thankful to have.
I went surfing in the Pacific Ocean, took a mushroom foraging class, and learned to cook the boujee-ist food I have ever touched while drinking wine in Sonoma Valley. I somehow found an apartment in San Francisco (well that one wasn't actually that fun but it was a necessity).
In 2019, I want to take a little time to plan just a few experiences that I've always wanted to try, and that I will remember for years to come.
Next weekend I'm going skiing at Tahoe for the first time. I have such clear memories watching videos Shaun White and Co. snowboarding at Northstar. My snowboarding will definitely be a bit rusty but I'm super excited to finally go skiing @ Northstar.
I'm still exploring possibilities for things I want to plan in 2019. It doesn't have to be much. Honestly most weekends I am more than content hanging out with friends, exploring new cafe's, and reading.
I talked about getting back into piano in my 2017 reflections. Since then I've dabbled occasionally and even bought a used keyboard for my apartment. It's been a ton of fun getting back to reading sheet music and making music again. And I think there's something about having a skill that you enjoy practicing while at the same time knowing that you will never be great at it.
I stopped writing this article for a few minutes because writing this made want to play for a bit.
In 2019 I hope to start taking piano just a little bit more seriously. Practicing consistently, and at least trying out taking lessons for a few months.
More than any of these individual things, I want to avoid complacency in 2019. I don't mean that in the most cliche sense that I want to "grind" or "work my face off" but just that want to stay hungry and excited about life. I want to make 2019 count.
Starting a full-time job has been a huge adjustment. I now have more free time and money than I've had for my entire life. I've watched more Netflix in the past 3 months than I watched in total over 4 years of college.
I have the job I worked hard to get. And I enjoy it - but there is so much more out there. People to meet, people that become friends. Things to try, and skills to learn. Some of which will becomes passions.
There's nothing wrong with watching a bit of Netflix, especially if you love it. But that's not what gets me pumped about being born in such an amazing time.
And that's it. I wish you all the absolute best in 2019. Thanks for reading.