I love Spotify Wrapped. It’s such a treat seeing numbers and visualizations attached to your hard-earned listening habits, and I wish I had this for every aspect of my life. This is my attempt at hand-rolling a “Nikhil’s 2022 Wrapped” to look back on in future years.
I’m firmly in my mid-20s and this year has been one of the most transformative of my life, while being deeply joyful at times and incomparably difficult at others.
This post will come to you in two major parts: a retrospective of a handful of different areas in my life worth sharing from this past year, and a forward-looking exploration of my ever changing goals and aspirations for the year to come.
Speaking of Spotify, I listened to 27,707 minutes of music in 2022 which is way less than my previous years of musical eclecticism. I don’t own a car, and my gym sessions are punctuated by podcasts & audiobooks rather than music. The times that I do want to listen to something to drown out the world while I’m working are aided by Brain.fm now rather than my trusty “focus” playlists. It also seems that my musical tastes are solidifying and I’m finding myself listening to a lot of the same artists and genres, with Tom Misch topping my charts for the fourth year in a row.
My podcast consumption this year has unironically been the technology brother starter pack. Monoculture? I barely know her!
A fun tool that I started using this year to manually track movies & TV shows and organize things that I want to watch later is Trakt — you can see my watch history for 2022 here which unsurprisingly is mostly anime.
You can check out all the books that I’ve read in 2022 here. Interestingly enough, since 2020 my books read has ~halved each year. I attribute this to spending more time listening to podcasts and reading more technical papers & textbooks. Not to mention that in 2020 I still had a 2+ hour daily commute for a good portion of the year and then there was a pandemic or something.
Something else is that the books that I’ve “read” this year have been mostly audio. I’d be worried about my ability to actually read atrophying if I didn’t spend a significant part of my days reading dense technical content.
I definitely want to change this in the future. I’ve found that audiobooks work great for fiction and less intense books, but for the truly life-changing material out there I don’t think there is any way of getting around the necessity of wrestling with actual words in front of your face.
got more out of reading a book for 2 hours and moving 2 pages forward than out of previously listening to it more than literally 10 times— good user alexey (@alexeyguzey) December 26, 2022
last 3 years of listening to books instead of reading them were a huge mistake
As usual, I’ve moved around quite a bit this year. Between pre-planned trips, spontaneous adventures, and living across the country from my family, here’s where I spent my time (only counting places that I spent at least one night in).
- 242 days in San Francisco
- 63 days in Wesley Chapel
- 19 days in Mexico
- 12 days in Salt Lake City
- 10 days in Kelseyville
- 6 days in Seattle
- 5 days in Austin
- 5 days on a boat
- 3 days in Denver
I enjoy both going on trips and spending extended time in SF so it’s tough to completely balance the two. It’s a good problem to have and I’ve spent about ⅔ of last year in SF and I’m honestly very happy with that.
My writing goal last year was to publish 10 full-length articles, and I wound up with 4. However, I am proud that the things that I did write felt authentic and were topics that I felt called to write about. The notion of being pregnant with an idea rings true here. I wrote about CGMs, saunas, leaving my job, and psychedelics.
I’ve also been Tweeting a lot more. Part of it is having more to say, part of it is having less of a filter, and part of it is using Typefully which allows me to draft & schedule tweets without ever having to unintentionally get sucked into the dunkfest rabbit holes of the Twitter-verse.
One insane stat is that I’ve typed over 300,000 words into my personal journal throughout the year. That’s like 3-4 full-length books! Granted a lot of that is bullet points, the same stuff repeated multiple times, and mostly stuff that I wouldn’t even re-read, let alone others.
On the programming side, this was a year of buidling for me. Between the Recurse Center, 8 side projects, and 5 contract & consulting projects I spent quite a bit of my year in my IDE.
In previous years, this would have been one of the most detailed sections, but I honestly have not been tracking my biometrics as much as I have tended to. With sleep for example, I do passively track it with my Oura ring but only look at my data once a week as a gut check. I think I’ve done a lot of the upfront work on optimizing my health and am now in maintenance mode, which is a great feeling and gives me lots of mental bandwidth to focus on other things.
Without a doubt, this year has involved some major life events that I know will be pivotal as I look back at them. Here are some highlights.
- Mack moved to SF! We were long-distance for the majority of our relationship, and for the first time since our Florida days we are both living in the same city.
- I quit my full-time job at WhatsApp and have spent my time figuring out my north star and searching for the next hill to climb.
- To reinvigorate my love for programming, I did the Recurse Center and spent 6 weeks working on passion projects & learning technologies I was interested in.
- After a great 2.5 year run with amazing roommates, I moved out of my apartment in Bernal Heights and am now living in Genesis, a 33 bedroom co-living house full of scientists and founders in the Lower Haight.
- On my 26th birthday, I went on a very profound fungi journey and wrote about it.
- I spent 10 days meditating in silence at a Vipassana retreat in Kelseyville, CA.
This section deserves its own post. I have learned more about technology, business, and my own strengths & weaknesses in these past 8 months than I have in over 3 years of full-time employment, which tells me that this was no doubt the right decision.
I know what direction to head in (hint, I’m interviewing at AI labs & startups right now) and once I am more certain as to where this will take me, I hope to write a full retrospective of my sabbatical and the fun adventures along the way. Stay tuned!
This year was an insane year for technology, as AI productivity tools become better and more widespread. Here are some of my favorites, which have honestly doubled my overall productivity and have added immeasurable joy and delight to interacting with technology. I’m resisting the urge to sing specific praise to each one of these, but take it as a high compliment to anything at all that I include in this section.
As mentioned earlier, I read a lot fewer books this year but the ones that I did read certainly slapped. Here are my favorite reads.
Beyond that, here are some of the miscellaneous things (people, articles, podcasts, links, places, whatever) that come to mind from the year that have deeply inspired me.
- Building A Virtual Machine inside ChatGPT
- Quit Your Job
- The Art of Fermenting Great Ideas
- Felix Krause
- 4.2 Gigabytes, or: How to Draw Anything
- Alex Hormozi
- My First Million
- Bret Victor
- Andrej Karpathy
- Linus Lee
- George Hotz
- The Center
I handled goal setting a little differently this year. Normally I create a list of everything that I can think of that feels reasonable to accomplish in the following year which I try to remember, but inevitably forget as life unfolds and my priorities change. When I encounter this list again halfway through the year, the items on there feel very outdated.
Instead, what I’m hoping to do this year is create a list of broader objectives that I hope to make headway on throughout the year, while also creating a tentative list of key results (someone should turn this into a corporate goal-setting framework!) that will evolve and naturally change over time. I plan to visit this list of personal OKRs during my weekly review and continue to prune and reshape it as I get more and more feedback from life.
Without further ado, here are my OKRs for the year (with a few omitted for personal reasons).
🛠️ Orient career towards entrepreneurship in the AI / ML space
- Commit to a job at a startup in the AI / ML space
- Learn ML engineering and ship one major project to production
- Get experience managing a team of people
- Understand the hiring process by interviewing & screening candidates
📚 Become a better programmer and engineer
- Read Crafting Interpreters and build your own toy programming language
- Read Designing Data-Intensive Applications
- Go through an algorithms course end-to-end
🎨 Build and scale side projects while working in public
- Complete your Memex and publish relevant technical blog posts
- Launch at least one major side project with potential for passive income
- Write one longer-form piece on your Substack or blog every 3 months
❤️ Deepen my connection with the people in my life
- Go on a weekend adventure (camping & road trips) with Macc every 3 months
- Spend around 6 weeks of the year with family in FL
- Have regular (at least every 2 month) catch-ups with close friends
- Spend 1-2 nights a week hanging in common areas at Genesis, and go to half of the sunday dinners
🧠 Continue to grow spiritually and face my fears
- Apply to and attend a 3-day Vipassana every 3-4 months
- Practice martial arts (BJJ) for 8 bi-weekly classes over a month
- Try one new thing (restaurant, activity, place) every week in SF
💪🏽 Feel fit and improve both cardiovascular and muscular performance
- Run to Golden Gate Park and back (5K) in 25 min
- Bench 150 and squat / deadlift 250 for 1-rep max
So there you have it! My time of exploratory maximalism is coming to an end as I zone in on the things that I actually want to spend my time doing. The theme for this upcoming year is focus (in terms of career, relationships, and creativity) on the things that matter most to me.