Reflection (2023)

Published: 31/12/2023

Ratik in 2023
Ratik v.2023

Over the last four years, I've been able to build a tradition of doing yearly reflections. As part of this tradition, I start each year by coming up with a list of things I want to do during the year. Then, as the year is coming to a close, I look back at how I fared and write about the whole experience as a blog post.

Welcome to the 2023 edition of my annual reflection!

I'm so excited working on this year's blog post as I'm finally in a position to write and publish things directly to my website. I've wanted to do this for the last three years and it is finally possible. I successfully moved away from Medium this year and now have full ownership of the words I write and publish.

Before jumping into the meat and potatoes of this blog post, a few bits of housekeeping:

  1. As always, a disclaimer: We are all on different journeys and progress looks different for everyone. No Gregorian calendar can determine your self worth.

  2. These reflections tend to build on top of each other. As a result, here's links to blog posts from previous years: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.

"Things I'd like to do in 2023"

Back in January of this year, I jotted down a note to myself on my phone titled: "Things I'd like to do in 2023". After 2022's super ambitious goals, I wanted 2023's plan to be much more focused and crisp.

Here's what I the note said:

# Fitness

- Keto (hopefully through the year)
- 16/8 IF
- Experiment with 36 hour fasts

# Professional Goals

## Fueled

👉 Project Work

- Continue as is

👉 Knowledge Sharing

- Company-wide tech talk

👉 Evolve Internal Processes

- Make 2 meaningful contributions to the Flutter template
- Make 2 meaningful contributions to the Compose template
- Write 2 blog posts for The Cache
- Try to write an IntelliJ plugin (?)
  - Plugin to help create relevant files to build a new screen in a Flutter app

# Personal Work Goals

- Produce S3 of Frndship Time
  - HD episodes is the focus of the year
- Re-do the website
  - Focus:
    - Decouple from social media as much as possible
    - Social Media as a medium to amplify others' work and personal work
- Start <redacted>, the monthly newsletter
- Create and launch a product as a side project
  - Look at side project ideas for inspiration

# Soul Goals

- Get a Tattoo

# Financial Goals

- Pledge 5% of the annual income to charitable giving
- Create and sell a wallpaper pack (?)

# Music Goals

- Produce 2 music covers

# Fun Goals

- Watch 26 Movies
- Listen to 26 LPs
- Read 6 Books

The note has a bunch of categories, followed by goals / things to do within each category. This year was the first time I prioritized the categories: Fitness was the most important category for me in 2023, for instance.

After jotting down the note, I pretty much forgot about it. I looked at it every now and then of course, but the note's main purpose was to act as a loose guide for the year. I often think of these notes as my "theme" for the year. They represent how I'm thinking about an upcoming year.

So, how did things go then? I've broken down this year's analysis into three buckets: Greatest Hits, Somewhat Successes, and Unfortunate Misses. Additionally, there's a catch-all, fourth bucket to cover miscellaneous things (projects, new hobbies, skills) that happened through the year. I couldn't have predicted these at the start of the year.

2023's Greatest Hits

After failing to achieve my fitness related goals over the last few year, I made fitness the priority for this year. This hyper-focus lead to me achieving every fitness goal I'd set for myself. YAS!

Fasting data from 2023

As of today, I've been on a (fairly strict) ketogenic diet for 355 days. During this time frame, I've fasted for ~16 hours on most days. I even experimented with 36 hour fasts on seven different occasions. It's been one hell of a ride. My larger aim with these goals was to get more fit, lose as much weight as possible, and inculcate healthier lifestyle practices. I've been successful in checking all these boxes!

Out of all the targets I had for myself this year, doing 36 hour fasts was hands down the most left of field experience. I wouldn't say they were very difficult to do but they took so much emotional and physical resolve. I'm not sure if I will indulge in them again — at least not anytime soon. Daily 16 hour fasts on the other hand were very easy to do and have become a part of my lifestyle.

Screenshots of the Six Flags mobile apps with roller coasters in the background

Professionally, I had a pretty solid year. I was part of a nice and chunky project at work that I co-lead development efforts for. As part of the project, we built cutting-edge, state of the art mobile applications for Six Flags, North America's largest amusement parks chain.

The Six Flags Android and iOS apps got released in July of this year to a brilliant reception. After the apps went live, I spent time documenting my takeaways from the whole experience here.

Outside of core work, I also gave two talks this year: one internal (at work), and one external. I found out about the external talk through my friend Gyan. He reached out asking if I'd like to speak at a hackathon being held at IIT Delhi. The talk had to be about working as a software engineer directed towards high school and first year undergrad students.

I'm glad I said yes to this speaking opportunity as I ended up enjoying the process of talking to people a lot. In 2024, I will try to seek out more such speaking gigs for sure!

The presentation I gave is available for viewing on my YouTube channel.

Another hit this year has been the medium (ha!) on which you're reading this blog post: an all new personal website!

Screenshot of the GitHub repo containing the new website's code
ratmobile 😎

I finally did it. After years of planning and collecting inspiration in my notes app, I finally sat down this year and built my personal corner on the Internet from the ground up.

Rebuilding my website from scratch has been a very rewarding (and fun!) experience. It's helped me pick up new skills like writing Typescript and React code. The project has also helped me get closer to my goal of wanting to de-couple from social media as the home-base for things I create. I'd rather my website be the place to interact with things I've built. I'm so chuffed to have managed to take a small step towards my vision this year.

Two features on the new website that I'm very proud of are: (1) the music player (non-Safari users: scroll up to the top of website and play some tunes!) and (2) a dedicated webpage to showcase my collection of custom mechanical keyboards. I consider these two features as "mini-apps" on the website. Over the coming years, I want to make more such mini-apps for the website to make it a living, breathing vehicle for all things Ratik.

Another win this year comes from the "fun" category: Watch 26 movies. This goal was absolutely demolished this year. According to my Letterboxd, I ended up watching 42 movies instead of the 26 I wanted to. Woop!

Screenshot of movie diary from Letterboxd

My movie watching goal and I go long back. This goal dates back to the year I started my tradition of writing these blog posts. I came up with this goal because I had completely stopped watching movies. I still liked movies but I could never get myself to start one. I'd instead always choose to watch a TV Show or a bunch of YouTube videos. I wanted to change this and so came the movie watching goal.

A huge factor in me wrecking the heck out of the movie goal this year has been my girlfriend, who's a massive movie buff. I don't think I would have have been able to surpass the goal without watching things with her this year.

Out of the 42 movies, here's a list of movies I recommend everyone to watch:

Somewhat Successes

A work-related success this year was being able to contribute to evolving internal processes and tooling at my workplace. I helped evolve our project templates, CI/CD practices, and even helped build a tool to bootstrap new Android projects by choosing a project template.

I think there's still loads of things that can be done to improve things further. I plan on chatting with my manager about this in 2024.

Two years ago, I set myself a personal financial goal to contribute to charitable causes. As an outcome of that, I was able to pledge 3% of my annual income to causes I care about in 2021 and 2022. For 2023, I wanted to bump my contribution from 3% to 5%.

I failed to reach the 5% figure this year but made sure to at least get to the 3% mark. My contributions went to ShareTheMeal and Wikipedia this year.

I plan on keeping this goal around for 2024 and try to get to the 5% in the new year.

Reading and listening to LPs were both hit or miss this year.

My reading goal was for six books and according to Goodreads, I've been able to read three. I'm frankly okay with this as the goal isn't to maximize reading, it is to at least read something. Plus, I started reading a lot of books this year and ended up pausing or abandoning them. I paused books if I found them dense and dry. I abandoned books if I wasn't able to get into them. I think this is a healthy way to read and want to continue reading using this lens.

Screenshot saying 3/6 books read in the 2023 Goodreads reading challenge

The three books that I did read this year were all fantastic and I wholeheartedly recommend them. I've listed out the books below along with a short blurb about my experience reading them to pique your interest.

1/ The First Thing About You

'The First Thing About You' is a coming of age story about a high school student with a rare, genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy (something I suffer from too!). I discovered this book on Blake Watson's blog and picked it up instantly. It felt really nice to consume media with relevant disability representation. There were many occasions where I found myself nodding along with what was being said.

2/ Chess Story

Chess Story is a novella about an epic chess match played between a grand-master and mysterious man. On a ship. Yup.

I forget where I discovered this book but boy am I glad I did. It was a nice, easy, but intense read. My interest in Chess has been ever growing since I watched The Queen's Gambit on Netflix. This book fed right into the part of my mind that wants to play and improve at Chess.

3/ Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

'Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore' is the debut novel by Robin Sloan. I've followed Sloan's newsletter for a while now and his app 'Fish' is something I recommend to everyone near and dear to me. It was high time I read something long form by him.

I loved reading 'Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore'. It was so fun! I vibed with all the themes present in the book. I'm planning on picking up Sloan's latest book Sourdough next!

I set a music listening goal for myself in 2022. I wanted the goal to help me listen to more LPs from start to finish, similar to how my movie watching goal helped me watch more movies. I failed at the goal miserably last year as I didn't have a set way to track my listening habits. There's Letterboxd for movies, Goodreads for books, but nothing really exists for Music.

After reading my 2022 blog post, my friend Arun recommended I try's Scrobbler to collect listening data to help with the music listening goal. I installed Scrobbler back in January of this year and let it keep track of whatever I played on Spotify on my MacBook and iPhone through the year.

Screenshot of a profile showing songs listened from 1273 albums in 2023.

It's the end of 2023 now and as I look at the data Scrobbler collected, I can't really make much sense of it. Sure, the data is impressive, but it doesn't tell me what I want to know. Like I said, my aim with collecting listening data was to see how many LPs I listened to from start to finish. However,'s backend only give me a list of albums from which I played a track — any track.

As a result, its hard to say how I did on this goal. I've surely made progress and I'm motivated to design a system for the years to come to let me track music listening exactly how I want to. It might be time to create a Google Sheet and go fully manual with this.

The final somewhat-success for this year is the newsletter project.

This project's motivation stems from my love for email newsletters and my pursuit to decouple things I do on the Internet from social media. I want my website and newsletter to be the way people find out what I'm up to.

I failed to launch the newsletter this year but a lot of planning and set up work did happen in the background. Another bit of progress I made towards achieving this goal was running a private, single-subscriber newsletter. The single subscriber was my girlfriend. The newsletter ran for the duration of her birthday month. My ulterior motive behind doing this for her was to get a sense of what goes into running a newsletter. I liked what I experienced and I can't wait to revisit this goal in 2024! Wish me luck!

Unfortunate Misses

2023 had its fair share of misses. Failing to get a tattoo was one of them. I failed for two reasons: (1) I still don't know what I want as a tattoo, and more importantly (2) figuring out the logistics of getting to a tattoo parlor in Delhi on a wheelchair gives me the heebie–jeebies. I have one idea though: I plan on reaching out to an acquaintance, who's a tattoo artist next year to ask them if they would be willing to come over to my place to tattoo something on me. Let's see how this goes!

Another miss this year was failing to build and launch a side-project, or what I like to call a "home-cooked" app now. I could argue that a home-cooked app I worked on this year was the website you're reading this post on. Building this website took most of my free time after work. But, when I set the goal for myself, I had other things in mind.

I will be have this goal next year too as I'm itching to build and launch something new. Home-cooked apps are my bread and butter as a software engineer x designer x creator person.

Those were the small misses. There were two standouts as well:

  1. Not producing season 3 of Frndship Time, a podcast I host with my friend Parth
  2. Not engaging with any music-related hobby (playing the piano, music production, etc.)
Illustration of Parth and Ratik, the hosts of Frndship Time

Season 3 of Frndship Time failed to happen due to us falling off the production wagon. Life happened and we lost the momentum we had gained in 2021 and 2022. We did try to record and produce the show this year, but as the year went on, production came to halt. I think Parth and I do want to revisit the show at some point, it's just a matter of when.

On the other hand, failing to engage with music-related hobbies happened as a result of other interests and hobbies taking precedence. No regrets on how I prioritized hobbies. But, I genuinely miss doing music related things and I want to make getting back into music my number one priority for next year.

Miscellaneous 2023 Happenings

Other than the things I explicitly planned on doing this year, 2023 also consisted of various random happenings. Some are old projects that got revived and finished this year. Some are new hobbies and interests that will make their way into my 2024 blog post.

I'd like to wrap up this year's post by leaving you with a brief run down of random happenings from my life. I'd like this section to be a reminder that no matter how much we plan, in the end, what happens, happens and that is that.

Attended a Keyboard Meet-up.

A table with rows of mechanical keyboards laid out

And saw some fantastic keyboards and keycaps.

A vintage, TKL size mechanical keyboard with beige keycaps
NCR 80
A 60%, winkey-less purple mechanical keyboard with beige keycaps
Elvenmonster's Martingale
A 65% keyboard with the GMK Greg keycap set
Lord Greg

Got myself a mirrorless camera after saving up for two years.

A FUJIFilm mirrorless camera around a guy's neck

Clicked photos around the house.

A stovetop with warm light coming from the exhaust.

And clicked photos of my favorite things.

A glass with iced black coffee.

Learned to solder!!!

Soldering iron and solder over a PCB for a keyboard.

Entered the vinyl rabbit hole ... new hobby alert?

Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd as a Vinyl record

Got myself an espresso machine!

A photo of an espresso machine in warm light.

Finally got around to re-doing my desk setup with design help from my friend Noel.

A screenshot of the schematic for a work desk.
A work desk under contruction, being made in wood.
Desk (before)
An external monitor, mechanical keyboard, and mouse under warm lighting.
Desk (after)

Tasty desserts displayed at a café
Happy New Year!