Dec 25, 20235 min read


2023 Highlights

Watching my son's personality develop

My son is almost 3, and it’s been astonishing to see just one year of language and personality development.

We recently went to a winter celebration his preschool put on, and it was such a contrast to watch him vs. the shyer kids on stage. He loves singing and being the center of attention.

At home, he can’t stop asking questions. I know it’s a common trope for kids to be ultra-inquisitive to the point of annoyance, but I love this stage where he is looking to his parents to explain to him how the world works.

He still loves puzzles and books. Most of all, he loves drawing and art. He constantly brings his creations home from school and proudly says “you made it!” (always getting I/you mixed up).

Watching him laugh while he colors or draws makes me think about how creative we are all naturally are, and I wonder when that instinct gets suppressed out of so many of us. My goal is to find that creativity in myself again, so as he grows older he can see the adults in his life pursuing their passions.

Renewed meaning in work

This year saw a dramatic increase in the scope and responsibilities of my CTO role at Motivo. That's, of course, coded language for “I work a lot more now”. Given I left Big Tech to get away from that kind of things, this seems like a terrible development.

However, I believe in what my company is doing now more than ever. This year, I spent significant time talking to investors and our customers about the shortage of therapists in the workforce. The problem we’re solving has shot up in my mind from “an inconvenience” to “one of the most important problems the field faces today.” And we’re the company by far the furthest along in solving it.

This is the first time in my entire 17-year career I’ve felt what I do with my 9-5 is making a meaningful impact on the world.

Spent time with extended family

Truth be told, I’ve lived here long enough that I’m ready to say: I don’t love Seattle. I knew the weather would be a massive adjustment, but I am absolutely floored by how expensive everything is. It’s basically 90% as expensive as the Bay Area but with much, much shittier weather. It’s incredibly beautiful here, of course, but you probably need to enjoy the outdoors way more than we do in order to make living here worth it.

That being said, my son got to see his grandparents almost every week since we moved to Seattle. I’ve had conversations with my parents that I wouldn’t have had if we lived apart. I’ve also gotten to spend a good amount of time with my brother and sister-in-law.

After having lived in the Bay Area away from family for more than a decade, I’m most amazed by the simple fact that getting together with them is so casual now. It’s nice to make plans for dinner as an extended family without buying a plane ticket.

I just wish we all lived in California.

Challenges entering 2024

Working too hard

Feeling passionate about work cuts both ways, and I now work harder than I ever have before. It’s also easier to justify working too hard if I believe in what I’m doing.

This year, I’m going to learn how to care about work deeply while setting appropriate boundaries.

No rituals

Related to the above, I’ve recently noticed that the clearest indication my life is off-balance is when my meditation practice drops off. I meditated no more than a dozen times this year. This means I spent almost a full year with my behavior driven by instinct rather than deliberate thought.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend the past few weeks at the end of the year re-centering myself. Every time I introspect, I’m reminded me how valuable reflection and mindfulness is, and I feel silly for not doing it more often.

What I want 2024 to look like

Theme: Joy

Why have I barely written this year? I missed it, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. For most of the year, it was easy to let myself off the hook: “I’m so busy! Work has been so hard lately.” This was obvious bullshit, since I wasn’t writing even when I had free time.

It’s only in the past few weeks that I realized I had put so much pressure on myself write for a purpose — start a newsletter, grow an audience, become a content creator, etc. I had forgotten my original goals to just express and clarify my thoughts, or to teach without expecting anything in return.

This year, I want to keep joy at the forefront of everything I do, to take pleasure in the process of pursuing my goals rather than just aiming for an outcome.


1. ✍️* Write consistently

When I started writing, I told myself I didn’t care if anyone read it. I just wanted to write for myself and hoped that people would find it valuable.

That was a lie. I wasn’t motivated unless I knew people were reading, and my standards for how many people need to read my work rose incredibly quickly as I built my Twitter following.

This year I aim to write for 30 minutes a day. More importantly, I aim to not care about growing my readership. I want to focus on being valuable to whoever comes across my work, and spending all my writing time simply enjoying the privilege of honing my craft and learning how to convey my ideas better. And I want to spend no time agonizing over what newsletter or social platform to use.

2. 🤖 Become an AI Engineer

By the end of 2024, I’ve set my sights on being competent at using AI to build products. I plan to start with online courses and books, gradually building up to be conversational in deeper AI concepts like transformers and Natural Language Processing.

I’ve been delving into these topics and have been delighting in the feeling of learning something new again. I want the joy of learning to balance out the equally-real anxiety I will become obsolete in the workforce without this knowledge.

To be honest, it was challenging to read my 2022 retrospective and find that I’m struggling with many of the same issues today as I was back then. But I sense growth too: rather than feel guilt or shame, I’m better able to have grace for myself and to try again next year.

Thanks for reading, and I hope 2024 brings you the success and meaning you’re hoping for too!