During the pandemic, I had the idea to do some online versions of the training courses I used to give to dev teams. I couldn’t get my head around video editing and got lost in the rabbit hole of perfectionism. So, eventually, in January, I decided to start off with text content on Twitter. That was a great decision! I had over 150 coffee chats this year and learned some really great perspectives on life, and had some interesting discussions about the tech space in general. I grew my Twitter account to more than 4,000 followers. It might not sound like a lot, but I made some incredibly great connections with people, not followers. I’m also very grateful for the opportunity to speak about Django’s ORM at PyConDE in Berlin and DjangoCon EU in Porto.
Key takeaway: It’s about people.
Tools used: Genuine interest; trust in karma; zoom (for the coffee chats)
Believe it or not, I lost about 15kg (that’s 33 lbs for my American friends) and was able to maintain a healthy weight with a body fat percentage of below 10% for 4 months now. Also in January, I started with a combination of Tim Ferriss’ slow-carb diet and intermittent fasting. That brought down the first 5kg (11 lbs). The real breakthrough started when I added some physical activity to the equation back in May. I set a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day and put a simple yet effective weight training of just 12 minutes per week on top of that. This one was inspired by Doug McGuff’s “Body by Science” book.
In summer, I reached my goal of 10% body fat, but I didn’t stop. The relationship between effort and results was so dramatic I became curious about what my body is capable of in other areas. With a lot of research, and help from physiologists, doctors and biochemists, it took me an insane amount of blood tests, supplements and experimental medical treatments, to surprise my GP with an insanely positive improvement in all of my blood test values, from cholesterol to hormones. Believe it or not, I even reduced my age by a few years (as measured by an epigenetic age test), and my thyroid problems (which I was told required a life-long supply of hormone pills) are gone – along with any sorts of headaches and neck pain.
Key takeaway: Making your health a priority is easier than I thought. It takes a huge effort in the beginning to overcome bad habits, but after that, improvement seems to take just a minimal dose of effort. Physical health is the foundation for everything that follows.
Tools used: whole foods, freshly cooked at home; AG 1, cold exposure; gym equipment; lots of experiments
Our mind is a weird place: Generally, we are pretty good at giving advise to our family or friends when they face a problem, and yet, we are almost never able to find good advise for ourselves. I struggled with brain fog, some sort of general discontent, and some bad habits over the last few years. I knew some of the mechanics of our mind and brain, such as its response to dopamine, oxycontin, serotonin, and other neurochemicals, but I felt incapable of acting on that knowledge.
This year, I learned a lot about mental models, and I developed a mental “framework” to assess what’s going on inside my head mindfully. It took some time, and experiments with micro-dosed psilocybin, to get closer to a bird’s perspective on my own mind.
Besides these experiments, putting myself out of my comfort zone made me calmer, more content, and more productive. As everything is connected, I attribute a lot of this progress to my new routine of daily walks. What also helped a lot was changing usual habits: Learning a new skill, for example, in sports or art, without the urge to take that to perfection, or travelling in solitude, put me in a more alert and mindful state over the year.
Probably the most important factor that kept me on track was: accountability. I reflected on my goals, my setbacks, and my next steps with close people. Finding someone who you can trust, exchange thoughts with, and who reminds you of your goals without judgement is so important for making progress. I am so thankful that I have such people in my life.
Key takeaway: Controlling your mind helped me focus better, having accountability partners helped building healthier habits even in tough times.
Tools used: Journalling; Meditation; low stimulating activities, such as walking; psilocybin (micro-dosed)
Of course, one year is too long to be a story about just successes. There were setbacks. A lot of them, especially in the second part of the year: I got some bad news from my family and a close friend – these kinds of news that really set you back. Amidst these situations, I almost lost hope. And with it, I lost the motivation to keep building my habits, too. As bad as it was, eventually, it was a reminder to keep going and to value the time with my loved ones even more. In the end, it was not as bad as we expected, luckily.
This photo was taken in Yosemite – just between Mirror Lake and Half Dome. My trip to California this year was probably the craziest trip I have ever done. Started on short notice as a business trip, I made it a road trip from SoCal to San Francisco for two weeks. The beauty and the sheer size of the mountains in Yosemite or the trees in the Redwood National Park impressed me, but also helped me to put some things into a better perspective. It was a trip I enjoyed in solitude – also something I have never done before. And yet, I met so many great people there. Some I met just there, and others were Twitter friends. Some even took a day off to show me around – I had rarely experienced this kind of hospitality before. Thank you for this!
Not only were there setbacks this year, but I also missed some of my goals: I still find myself procrastinating for some time, but it improved substantially. I need to improve on that.
Also, I am not yet consistent with writing. There are two aspects of this: One is the personal, my daily routine of journalling and brain-dumping my thoughts. Although I realized how much it helps me in the long run, I still skip it sometimes.
The second aspect is creating content around tech topics: While I did manage to post (almost) daily on Twitter, my list of long-form content ideas for my blog is increasing and more often than not, my schedule did not allow me to write more. I will need to re-evaluate the priorities here and dedicate some focus-time for this.
Some people asked me how my bees are. This was another skill I picked up in 2022: beekeeping. So far, they’re doing well, and hopefully, I will get honey next year. Will keep you posted!
Learning about my own health, my mindset, and in general, growth as a person has been something I have intensively researched since 2020. It took me until 2022 to finally focus distinctly on the practise. I plan on collecting and verifying all the data and research to publish it later.