Good riddance, 2022
This started out as me trying to write a “year in review” post, but to be honest I don’t have it in me. 2022 was a pretty difficult year for me, and I don’t terribly want to relive any part of it. Various family health issues loom large in that, but a ton of things went wrong.
Instead of looking back at all that, I want to spend some time thinking about how I want the New Year to go. Not in the form of specific goals, though I certainly have those (e.g., I’d love to get in more practice time at curling, and get a better grasp of programming in Rust). But this post is about some general themes I want to try and keep in mind moving forward.
In addition to various uncontrollable events of 2022 — or maybe because of them — I spent a huge part of the past year feeling scattered. I frequently felt like I was pulled in thirteen different directions, and I would get to the end of a day or a week and be unable to point at anything that got done.
One of the themes I want to keep in mind this year is focus. Another way of saying that is that I aim to do fewer things, but do them better.
That includes reminding myself to say no to things that feel more peripheral; to be careful of picking up new tasks where I can’t easily identify why I’m doing so; and to consciously step away from anything where I feel I’m no longer adding value or getting enjoyment.
Build deep understanding
Connected to feeling scattered, I’ve also felt lately like I only have a surface-level understanding of a lot of concepts.
I’ve noticed this most when I try to explain another idea to another person, and find myself quickly hitting the bounds of what questions I can answer. This realization has honestly been pretty distressing, as I really value being able to go deep on a particular topic, and hitting that wall is sometimes a bit of a shock.
So another theme that I’m going to try and keep in mind this year is building deep understanding, particularly for things I think of as my core interests.
A few examples that I have in mind include:
- Giving myself more time to read about, and experiment with, how computing hardware works at the deepest levels
- Reading books and articles from experts in tabletop role-playing games, particularly game masters discussing how they structure stories and adventures
- Experimenting with different baking techniques, and thinking about how the underlying chemical processes impact the results
- Reading more about the history of different science and engineering, approaching them as fields of practice rather than just lists of accomplishments
I could go on with more examples, and I’m trying to keep in mind that I probably won’t find time to go deep in all of these.
Instead, I want to remind myself to spend time and build understanding of the concepts I decide to focus on, rather than letting myself jump between different topics whenever they get hard.
Regardless of the above, I want to continue to remind myself that the people around me matter more than anything else, and that I should prioritize their needs and happiness over less important distractions.
This is a theme I think I did ok with over the past year, but which still deserves to stay top of mind. In particular, it’s easy to let work problems or upsetting world events occupy my thoughts and distract from the immediate people around me. I want to be more conscious about pushing those distractions aside.
A tension here is with my desire to say “no” more frequently. I want to prioritize the well-being of the people I care about, but also avoid letting others’ sense of urgency override my own priorities. That will likely take some work to figure out and navigate, but feels worth doing.