Hello, hello friends, family, colleagues, and whosoever else decided to click on a blog post titled “Reflection” by a random dude on the Internet. Welcome all!
I’m Ratik — a software engineer at Fueled by day, and artist-person-type-thing by night! Four years ago I started doing yearly reflections as an experiment and ended up really liking the process. What started out as an experiment has become a yearly practice!
Looking back at 2022
Yup… we’re starting this one exactly how we started last year’s piece. This is fitting in a lot of ways. I’m still Ratik. I still work at Fueled as a software engineer during the day. I’m still an artist-person-type-thing at night… albeit one that created less “art” than he would like this year. I’m still the same guy! 2022 was just a different year, a new year. A new… iteration.
I like iterations. I like the idea of living life in a way where each year builds on top of the last one. So, the fact that reflecting on 2022 is making it feel like an iteration to me is a great thing. I’m chuffed about this!
Like each of the last four years, at the start of this year, I’d jotted down a set of goal for myself in Apple Notes. These spanned everything from my career to side-projects to random fun things I wanted to do this year. Let’s see how I fared in achieving the goals I’d put down for myself this year!
Professionally, 2022 was a great year for me. I spent close to ten months working deeply on a Flutter app at work. This was the first time I was using Flutter on a real project and so the project’s experience not only helped me become a better engineer, it also taught me the ins and outs of building Flutter apps.
I worked with three other engineers on the project and at one point I ended up leading the project’s engineering team as well. This was a first and I’m a fan! I really liked it and would like to do it more. Hopefully next year? Fingers crossed.
Apart from regular “work” work, I wanted to do two other things this year.
1/ Update LinkedIn, résumé, et al
Being in a stable job can often make you forget that you need to keep your LinkedIn and your résumé up to date with what you’ve been doing at work. I’d neglected doing this last year and so I wanted to make sure I update these things this year. And I did exactly that — both these things are updated as of now!
2/ Write 6 technical blog posts
This was a struggle yet again. 2022 just ended up being more busy in terms of work than I had initially anticipated. This affected a lot of the goals I’d set for myself this year as you’ll read in the sections that follow. The writing goal was one such goal where I struggled to make time.
That said, one thing I did do this year in the “knowledge sharing” sphere was an internal presentation with a colleague. The presentation was on animations in Flutter and everyone on the team seemed to really like what we had to say.
This was a really fun process and I surely want to do more presentations (internal and external) as I really enjoy the process of creating a presentation and then sharing it with an audience!
(Personal) Work Goals
Outside of “work” work, I love to make “art” on the side as well. For this year, I’d planned a few of these side projects. Some I succeeded at, some I couldn’t make time for.
This year more than any other year was a struggle in terms of just sitting down and working after “work” work. On most days, I preferred unwinding and relaxing after work rather than work on a side-project. Unwinding for me was watching football or a TV show or movie with my girlfriend. I also spent a lot of hours watching one of my favourite Twitch streamers Alexotos build keyboards this year.
This way of living is new for me. I’ve always been someone who does a myriad of things outside of work. There were many days where I felt honestly quite shitty about how I was just not doing things that I genuinely did want to do.
After thinking about these feelings over the last few months, I’ve realised two things: First, I think I need to get a bit more specific with the stuff I want to focus on in a year. This should help reduce the scope of things I want to do and hence, in theory reduce the friction I face to actually work on side projects. This is tricky though as I know I’m someone who is interested in so many things and I often get ridiculously ambitious with the things I want do in a year. But, let’s see. I’ll try extra hard next year to be disciplined with my targets for the year.
The second thing I’ve realised is that… I think I’ve developed a bit of a habit of procrastination this year. Have I been cutting myself too much slack? I think I have. It’s important for me to write this fact down in this year’s blog post so I can actively work on this in the year to follow. I’ll report back on how things are going in another such blog post in a year. Wish me luck?
With that long-winded spiel out of the way, here’s how the side-projects for this year panned out.
1/ Refresh brand and website
I failed to redo my personal website for a second year running. I would have loved to have posted this blog post on my own blog for instance but we’re having to stick to Medium (ugh) for yet another year.
2/ Create the monthly, flagship newsletter
I wanted to start a monthly newsletter this year. Over the last two years, I’ve become more and more disillusioned with social media and using it as the medium where stuff I create lives. I wanted to change that. Email is the first and oldest social media platform and I love it to bits. I want email and an old school www to be how I publish things on the Internet for consumption.
I made some progress on this this year. I have a name for the newsletter and I have some of the custom email domain setup done. This project will surely be a priority next year. Stay tuned!
3/ Do at least 6 casual “just working” streams
I thought I would try my hand at doing casual “work-with-me” streams this year on Twitch. Surprise, surprise, you actually need to do things post work to be able to live stream them. I’m definitely still interested in trying this next year but I think this would be a stretch goal or a tier-2 objective for me. The first step is actually doing the work and only then can something like live streaming come into the picture.
1/ Produce S2 of Frndship Time (FT)
The weekly podcast I do with my best buddy Parth completed a successful second season this year. It was a blast to produce this through the year. We collectively produced ~40 episodes this year. That’s 40 weeks of not missing an upload as a team. This is something I’m very proud of.
We do plan on continuing the show next year. We are yet to formally plan season 3 so I’m not sure what form the show will take next year but I’m certain that whatever we end up doing will be loads of fun to create and listen to!
2/ Mini FT Projects
Podcast hosting and production aside, early this year was when we launched the website for the show. This was loads of fun to create! Although, maintaining it and adding stuff to the website through the year has been a little challenging. I’d planned on doing two mini projects for the website which I could not get to.
One project was creating a FT soundboard for the website. Through doing the show for two years, both Parth and I have collected some really funny audio bits of each other. I wanted to use those to create a soundboard for the website where listeners (read: Me) could go and play around with random audio bits of Parth and I.
The other mini project I had in mind was to create a space on the site to accept audio questions from listeners. This idea hasn’t aged well in my head. I will probably bin this for now as this isn’t something we need for the show presently.
Each year, apart from personal work goals I try to set a few goals that are geared toward enriching the soul. These are often centred around learning things or gaining a life experience.
1/ Learn French and watch a French film (without subtitles)
Sigh. Ratik being overly ambitious yet again. Okay google play Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift.
I absolutely did not do this. I still want to though. Maybe in a different iteration of life?
2/ Get a tattoo
I’ve moaned a lot about how I did not do a bunch of stuff this year. This is also one such thing. I do not have a tat… yet. But, one of the best side-effects of writing down these lofty goals down at the start of the year is that they really help you set a “theme” or “vibe” for the year. So, sure, I did not get a tattoo this year but I did end up thinking a lot about getting one and have some nice ideas about what I want to get.
I’ll let the ideas marinate in my head for a little longer before actually getting one of them on the bod. This is one to move over to 2023 for sure!
This particular category of goals came to be a thing for me last year. It went pretty well last year and I’m happy to report that it went well this year too!
1/ Charitable Giving
Like last year, I wanted to pledge a portion of my yearly income towards charitable giving. You can read more about my rationale of doing this here.
This year, I gave what I could to the Internet Freedom Foundation for the great work they do to advance democratic freedom for every Indian in a digital society and to ShareTheMeal to aid their mission of fighting the global hunger crisis.
2/ “Passive Income”
Under the umbrella of financial goals, I continued to think about a sustainable and logical way for me to generate “passive income”. One approach I came up with was by creating digital assets that could be sold. The asset I want to experiment with is… wallpapers!
If you know me personally or have been following my work for some time now, you certainly know how much I love (this and this) wallpapers. I also love wallpaper packs that creators I follow put out into the world. I wanted to take a stab at that as well.
I don’t have anything concrete yet but I did get an iPad this year and have been messing around with Procreate. Once I make something I like, I’ll surely put it out into the world for others to enjoy as well!
Oh, this is the saddest category this year. I ended last year on such a high with stuff related to music. I was playing the piano loads and was getting better at hand independence.
This year started the same way. I was doing pretty well till the half-way point of the year. I learned a great jazz standard called Skylark. It was loads of fun to play.
But, all this fell apart in the second half of the year. The primary reason for this I think was that the piano classes I was taking stopped and I stopped practicing on my own. Bad idea. I fell out of the habit of playing every week, working towards a goal every week. This was really detrimental to the music related goals I had this year.
I miss playing so much. Playing and singing give me so much joy. I really want to figure out a way to get back into a rhythm next year. I don’t know how I’ll do it yet but I really want to figure something out stat.
Similar to last year, I have another year of fasting intermittently under my belt. I wasn’t able to add any other tangible health goals for this year.
For next year, I already know that this category is going to be a big one.
After four attempts… this year… I FINALLY HIT MY MOVIE WATCHING GOAL! I wanted to watch 26 films this year (roughly following a 2 per month cadence) and I did it! I’m honestly over the moon about this one. It was so much fun!
This particular goal probably seems ridiculous to folks who watch loads of movies each year. But, for me, this is massive. I was someone who loved movies but just didn’t watch enough of them. I always ended up preferring to spend the night watching YouTube or watching a TV Show. Movies always got neglected as a result. Having this goal each year (along with my love for Letterboxd) has really helped me watch more movies and I’m really happy about that!
I failed on my book reading goal of six books this year. I was only able to read three. A realisation I had this year is that I’m “winter-reader”. My reading goes up in the Winter since I like sitting in the sun for a few hours every day and that is a great time to do some reading.
During the summers here in Delhi, my sitting in the sun habit goes out the window and so the reading slows down as well. This is just how I am, I’ve realised. I like to tie activities together. Another example of this is how my podcast listening was at its peak when I commuted daily to college.
Another thing that happened this year is that the Book Club I’ve been a part of for a few years… hasn’t been reading books. We’re instead choosing to have longer conversations about life, our careers, and our interests. The change has been really nice but it does come at the cost of me reading less. Earlier, the Book Club guaranteed at least some reading through the year.
Similar to my movies goal, a new fun goal I’d set for myself this year was of intentionally listening to records. I love music and I love listening to LPs from start to finish. That’s how I’ve always listened to music and explored artists. This year, I wanted to get intentional about it. So, how did I do?
Well, I have no idea actually. The struggle with this goal was that it was hard to keep track of these. There isn’t a (good) app or website out there to create a music listening diary. There’s Letterboxd for movies, Goodreads for books, TV Time for Television, … and nothing for music.
I tried to make my own system at the start of the year using Spotify and failed. I tried to set up a Google Sheet too but the process was just too cumbersome. All this just lead me to giving up tracking this goal.
I still think this is a great goal and I do want to do it. I’ll think a bit more about tracking this. If you’re reading this and have a suggestion on how I could track records I am listening to, let me know!
That’s all! That was a quick run through of everything I’d set out to do this year. I succeeded at some stuff and failed at other stuff. This is okay. This year was just an iteration. I’ll take whatever I’ve learned this year into the next year and we’ll do another iteration. I’m excited to start planning!
To end, I just wanna say that this blog post was just my experience. We are all on different journeys and progress looks different for everyone. No Gregorian calendar can determine our self worth! So, you do you, boo! Do stuff at your own pace, please? I’m rooting for ya! ❤️