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Semi Annual Review 2022

How did the first half go?

2022 is maybe the most exciting year so far. I spent January still on my Erasmus semester in Barcelona. I had exams this month, but I still made time to explore new things. I had my first deprivation tank experience, tried light therapy glasses and went to a magic show by Luis Pardo.

I challenged myself to talk to a stranger every day: and found out that most people actually enjoy small talk. It opens for serendipity: I got to meet a guy on the subway who is from the same small town in Cadiz where I would go in a few weeks.

Living in places, not as a tourist, but by staying there for some time, is how I like to explore. After Beijing, Munich and Barcelona, I decided to go for my first digital nomad experience. I went to Cadiz in the sunny south of Spain for about 4 weeks. I loved the proximity to the sea in Barcelona, but I wanted to explore a more tranquile and nature-based place. A free room in an apartment with a charming lady in her fifties (it’s rude to ask the age right) brought me to El Puerto de Santa Maria. A small town at the coast line facing the peninsula of the city Cadiz. I am happy I did it and I learned a few things about myself and on how I want to live:

I did a windsurf course, enjoyed bathing in the sea in the late afternoon, and taking walks. I hope I documented more of my experience, but I particularly remember the horse riding day with Johanna and the day at the beautiful, mostly untouched beach in Los Caños de Meca. My nice host Lola proposed the trip and brought me and my friends Stefan and Juno from the windsurf course there by car (you need a car in Andalusia!). I remember the adventurous mountain trip to a beautiful lagoon in Algeciras with Hector and the monkey day at the rock of Gibraltar.

At the end of the month, I returned to Munich for an exam and got to see my friends again. I truly enjoyed my days with them and realized how my friendships had improved. I went skiing for the first time in my life with my old school friend Maxi.

And March was yet another great month. I got back to my family in Berlin and enjoyed Urban sports to the fullest. I went to lots of dancing classes, swimming, to the gym + sauna and I went on a bouldering date with a special person. On this date, I met a midwestern girl that for the first time ever gave me the feeling of a soulmate. We think alike in so many ways: the curiosity to explore new places and perspectives, being intentional, the desire for deep connection… I could go on, but I spare you the rest. I got hella lucky to meet this girl on a dating app: Bumble (yeah did not expect this neither). We bonded in no time and everything just seemed right. In June I went to see her family in the U.S. and had a wonderful time. I was surprised to find bigger cultural differences than I expected and changed my perspective on how I want to treat my family and see my friends. I learned a lot about my emotions and the value of thinking out loud. My highlights were the days at the family’s cabin by a lake, and the camping night at Lake Superior. Shaped by the car dependence in the U.S. and earlier in Cadiz, I was more determined than ever to get my driver’s license and finally started when I got back. In June, I also moved into my own flat in the heart of Berlin. Growing up in the suburbs of Berlin, its quite another experience to live in the most buzzing place and getting everywhere within much fewer time. Shortened commute time is worth a lot, because commute often was an impediment to go out in the first place. Now I miss the greenery at times, but you can’t have it all. As I recently learned, Berlin is one of the greenest cities in Europe, so I just need to take advantage of the many parks.

Status update of my life areas and goals

Life

I appreciate to be close to my family, because I know it won’t be permanent. I feel fortunate to live by mself in a place that is so close to work and central. A wonderful human being entered my life this year and I am learning so much about my emotions and childhood distortions (nothing dramatic, everyone has them 😉 ).

After my thesis submission, I want to consciously take more time to do things I tend to put off because x needs to be done first. I want to live my life today and not postpone it to the future. I want to try new things, do trips, invest in deep friendships, visit the people I care about.

Career

I set the goal to do 7 learning projects this year. So far, I did:

  • finish my first offline PWA (progressive web app): I am still not 100% happy with the app and it has some issues on Safari iOS lately. I’m thinking about switching to Obsidian, but the learning experience with Typescript and PWA features was the main motivation.
  • learn rust: read Rust in Action; completed all rustlings exercises
  • went to We are devs conference. I realized that I miss out on a lot of events in my tech sphere, because I don’t keep myself up-to-date. I found out too late that KubeCon was in Valencia this year. I would have loved to go. I want to stay more informed through Twitter (how I found we are devs), maybe LinkedIn and tech communities (meetup? online?). If you have any recommendations, please tell me :)
  • continue Uncle Bobs Clean Code Fundamentals video course: it’s highly entertaining and I have lots to learn. I stopped watching the course due to thesis pressure and other priorities, but I want to continue, refine my notes and eventually share them on the blog

I am interested to explore:

  • practice my vim / IDE shorcut skills. I want to explore another IDE than VS Code that has more powerful refactoring and automation capabilities (thinking of Jetbrains)
  • explore optimizations in the terminal. Starting last year, I leveled up my terminal with oh-my-zsh and some nice plugins, but I am still not using it to the fullest. I know about fzf but I don’t use it. Here are my dotfiles. If you have any plugin recommendation, please reach out :) I am also curious on the warp project and might try it out
  • learn about web3: the space and innovations going on.. On the tech side, I want to learn about substrate and polkadot. I visited a substrate workshop earlier and want to get involved in a project.

Habits

I see habits as the empowerment for positive change. Taking a learning hour off in the morning is the first step to reach my goal on the learning projects. Setting a rule to get to bed by 22.30 pm is my condition for a good start of the day and being productive. Yet, I am not particularily consistent. The only habit I am fairly consistent with is practicing Ukulele: it takes only few minutes and is fun. As part of my yearly goals, I decided to do a sweet free month and failed. My longest streak was 7 days, because of single days where I failed (also due to social pressure ^^). I only recorded 32 sweet free days this year until know.

My most important habit is journaling and while I almost always do it in the morning, the more important day reflection is in the evening, where I often fail. Mostly, I lack energy and am not in thinking mood. I need to take my winddown routine (yoga streching, meditation, chill music) more seriously. I also recently discovered iPhone + keyboard as a good mobile combination that works on public transport and avoids big bright light before going to bed. I just bought a stand for my iPhone - let’s see how that goes. I generally find myself to have low self-discipline in the evening (quite understandably as a morning person..) and often also don’t go to bed on time.

As a summary:

  • I want to be persistent with not allowing distractions in the morning. No phone in the morning (until 10am at least)
  • I need to acknowledge my low self-discipline at night and rely more on my sleep reminder to tell me to winddown. I want to incorporate yoga streching to see if it helps with sleep. I also experimented with theanine, but it seems to make me feel very sleepy in the morning and live stronger dreams. I want to sleep by 22.30 pm latest.
  • I want to meditate every day.
  • I want to try the no-sweet challenge again

Writing

I already wrote 9 blog plosts this year, 8 letters and published 5 book notes. This is more than last year, and I also got two positive feedbacks from strangers so far. I recently started tracking my blog analytics and found out that I get some fair traffic from Google and most of it on my Obsidian article on Journaling. So far, I’ve been mostly writing for myself and I want to keep it that way. However, I want to practice my writing style and build a small audience.

Inspired by Jen Vermet, I am thinking of joining the Write of Passage (if I get a scholarship). I also want to get some tips and feedback from writing friends. Maybe, I would like to be more active in an online-community. I recently joined Nesslabs.

Learnings

Say no. I still find myself comitting and saying yes to things I don’t want. Don’t make spontaneous, impulsive decision-making. Rather defer it and think about it in a quiet moment.

Being over doing. I feel I constantly have to do something. But sometimes it’s just nice to be with myself and feel my emotions. I often catch myself escaping my emotions.

Procrastination is a natural protection. I constantly tend to put too much stuff on my todos. I don’t need to feel bad that I can’t do it all. Many of it, feels exciting or important in the moment, but if it is really important to me just shows when I gain more distance from the thought. Do less and fully engage in what I do.

Don’t make it too delicious. I want to eat to feel good afterwards not to feel good in the moment. I often tend to eat too much in a single meal and feel tired afterwards. Eating something less delicious (usually also more healthy..) helps to eat for my health instead of against it.

Coffee is a potent drug for me. I get into highly focused states and have almost ecstatic levels of happiness at times. I need to be careful with it because it also causes diarrea (caffeine increases colonic activity..) and it seems to have a very long half life for me, which can interfere with my sleep.

Start the day early and with intention. It makes me feel much better.

Thought bits

I’ve been meaning to do an integrity report ever since I read Atomic habits and plan to do it (at least by the end of this year 😉). The core questions are:

  1. What are the core values that drive my life and work?
  2. How am I living and working with integrity right now?
  3. How can I set a higher standard in the future?

Lastly, I want to thank Jen Vermet, who reminded me to do this (yeah, it’s almost August already) through her review letter. I highly recommend her newsletter. Her letters are very introspective, personal and a great inspiration for me.


I’m excited for what’s to come in the 5 remaining months and you can expect my annual review at the end of the year! I want to finish off with a nice quote from an email signature that Michael Pollan read many years ago:

I hope whatever you are doing , you stop once in awhile and not doing it at all - The mind on plants, Michael Pollan

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