Note: this post is a work in progress. Expect formatting to be changed, more links to be added, as well as wording-phrasing to improve. However the main ideas seem to be already present in the text. I decide to made it public in this unfinished state because I am making an experiment in the next few days, and if I delay the publication for the whole time, then it might never appear at all. Feel free to leave your comments or recommendations below!
Once again I would like to follow an inspiration and an example of Chris Guillebeau and participate in the fun that is annual review. I have told many of my friends that I tend to overlook and underestimate my achievements on any given scale, having ideas and ideals which are always out of my reach, and I find enumerating all of the accomplishments very satisfying, often discovering some surprises in the process.
Same applies to this time. I had quite a difficult time during the second half of 2014, and the first thoughts about how the year went were “well yeah… I have failed, again”. However, as I started writing the lists I could come up with much more positive things than negatives. And while yes, I haven’t gone to Australia for RYPL and still haven’t finished my PhD, on the other side I have been to WDS for the second year, I had taken violin lessons for several months, and I have gathered the courage to leave the “safe and quiet” place and take the chance of moving to Hamburg
What went this year:
- Groups, communities, connections. At the end of the last year, I decided to step up as a leader for Live Your Legend groups in Bremen and Hamburg. I was able to hold monthly meetings in Bremen from January through October, a few meetups in Hamburg from January to June, and one in Hannover in May. I visited a Desire Map book club meeting in Berlin when going through the process myself in January. I also continued to be active and show up at multiple meetups in Hamburg, increasing my involvement to include software-related groups with presentations held in German language.
Through the meetups I met several people who I came to value a lot, think of as my friends, respect so that I can ask for their advice or opinion in challenging situations. And also a few people who I really enjoy being around.
- Travel: I made another trip to the States: WDS in Portland, OR, then San Francisco (with visiting an Abraham-Hicks seminar!). I revisited some of the places in Germany, properly revisited Osnabrück, visited Tostedt and Buchholz (in der Nordheide) when contemplating a move, and walked through the fields in Hittfeld when I decided to get off the train and take a better look at the station building. Finally, I made a day trip to Potsdam after the conference in Berlin.
WDS was an incredible experience, such that I keep thinking of it as the most important event of the year. I cannot imagine another place or time of the year which gathers so many people who share very similar set of values to mine, and then organize it with such tons of fun and unending stream of inspiration. I met a lot of wonderful people there, done some bits improv at a meetup (with Amy Angelilli) and at a WDS academy (with Gary Hirsch). Closing party included a hot-air balloon and dancing with throwing colors at people around – awesome new experiences.
- Dreams / unreasonable things. I have followed up with my words from the last year, indeed found a teacher to learn the basics of playing the violin, and took lessons from Jan to June. I also gave up the apartment I had been renting and eventually found my way to move to Hamburg. I kept experimenting with challenging myself in different ways in the 30-day challenge format, and generally was satisfied and glad that I took those challenges, even if not all of them went perfectly well.
- Music. On the consumption side, I went to Thirty Seconds to Mars, Lindsey Stirling and Linkin Park live concerts in Hannover or Hamburg, as well as watched livestreams of Placebo and of Lenny Kravitz from iTunes Festival. On the creation/playing side, I had my first ever jam session, as well as participated in a few band rehearsals at the university.
- Photography: I switched to shooting in RAW, which gave me more control and freedom on the adjustment of the appearance of the photos.
- Software dev: I kept learning small things throughout the year, accompanied by some larger concepts (as testing the legacy code, test-driven development, modern C++) from a couple of books, some online video lectures/presentations, and a personal visit to a conference. I helped my colleagues several times with debugging their code.
My rich experiences at the beginning of the year also resulted in the best posts on LikzLife (LOVE; Berlin. Travels.; Thirty Days of Improvisation).
- Eventually, I have upgraded my notebook to a newer and a much more powerful MacBook :)
What did not go well this year? I have a much shorter list here, but the items seem to be heavy, have larger scale and higher importance:
- The worst thing of all was the time period between the end of WDS and my successful move to Hamburg. I had strong anxiety/panic attacks/extreme weakness during that time. For many days I had been barely functional, thus I had not been very good with keeping all the commitments and time constraints. My creativity was simply nonexistent, even insufficient to legibly describe what was happening with me. I was not sharing anything. I dropped most of my communication channels and spent huge amounts of time on trying to distract myself with reading and watching online videos. That was bad. Very bad.
- Many of the big plans got stretched, postponed or cancelled: finishing the PhD by mid-October did not happen; I didn’t produce an album and did not complete even a few songs with which I could be really satisfied; I did not go to Australia for RYPL.
- My LYL LOCAL groups slowly died out over the course of the year, with people not paying attention to the Facebook group announcements, not participating in polls for organizing the next meetups and not showing any other signs of activity. A guess would be that my lack of leaderships skills (and lack of long-term persistence as well) resulted in failing to keep people interested, failing to consistently making these meetups valuable for them.
- There were some of the less grandiose, but still unpleasant failures/not-happenings. The band rehearsals did not resulted in the intended performance. I was the third and the least experienced guitar player, and the choice of the songs kept members doubtful if they need even two guitars. I didn’t visit any DTM races (but watched two online). I did not go to Marseille nor to Munich. Meeting with locals / couch surfing during trips to the US and Berlin didn’t happen as I would like it to.
- The whole career-related stuff including choosing a direction, researching companies and applying for jobs didn’t go as expected.
If to talk about lessons…
- Some things take much longer than expected.
- Planning in advance can be beneficial and take a lot of stress off.
- Risk is fun when things work out, but can be very devastating when they don’t.
- Sometimes, it may be just too early for a certain development. Patience is a great good. If I want to do or have something, I often want it right now, because I am afraid that the more I wait, the less satisfying it will be, or even the less likely I will get it. But that’s not true. Sometimes it is actually for good if I don’t get something I through of as desirable. Something else might appear to be better, for now or for all. But the important stuff won’t disappear, and the valuable things may even have more effect when they come at the right time. Pushing harder to get them, however, might have the opposite effect of making things much, much worse.
Take imperfect action (from WDS).
See the opportunities, and look less for the challenges.
Some things just don’t stick.
Interests change with time. Sometimes, it is direct consequence of aging and getting experiences, sometimes it might be related to the type development: shifting the attention to develop weaker information-gathering and decision-making functions (from MBTI).
I like making unreasonable things that are positive for me, and surprise others with telling about them. I like to be uniquely me.
Trust in my own feelings and intuition makes wonders. Which are my primary and secondary functions, by the way. But with the main focus of my former education on math, logic and IT, I sort of come to believe that everything needs to have a reason and be justified. However, for my own good a reasonable thing may be not enough or bring nothing.
There are always plenty of opportunities around, and there will be no moment when everything is sorted out and nothing is on the radar, thus such moments needs to be created proactively – sometimes even planned and scheduled in the calendar as the meetings (or retreats) with self.
For the same reason, prioritization is important, as well as some sort of planning. I am a spontaneous type and a fixed plan can kill my desire to do anything, even the things I like a lot. However, a general direction and some structured framework can be very beneficial. It helps also to move forward with the things that are not urgent but are still important: unfortunately, sometimes they don’t solve themselves, but being reminded and consistently taking small actions may work out even big stuff.
Spending some time to take notice of the good things (and appreciate them / be grateful for them), as well as remember our desires makes a lot of difference in the mindset and the mood in the long run.
People make a huge difference. Yes, I learned and even experienced it last year in Connect With Anyone online course, and at WDS. This year I was blessed to hold a few meetings for Live Your Legend LOCAL in Bremen and Hamburg, as well as attend a meeting of Desire Map group in Berlin, and a few workshops during the WDS. Also, my friend Nadja Petranovskaja held two salons in March and December, which gathered amazing groups of people. And with these various meetings.. Sometimes it was the actual discussion topic and the shared advice that helped, but I received even bigger value by just being able to share, to talk about things that are important to me without fear of being ridiculed. Often, during the act of talking I was telling about something and realizing how this thing could be important to me, which helped me to bring it more to my life afterwards. Awareness, that’s the right word. The meetings helped me to become more aware of my life, of my values, as well as of what is out where, how other people think and feel. Surprisingly, even just knowing that somebody else has the same problems as me was often enough to relax about it and a new solution would appear by itself, or a known one will manifest itself almost effortlessly.
Places make a difference. I still haven’t figured out if the ideal working space exists, and with most of the real ones I have some kinds of discomforts… But for the place of living, it is important that the home feels safe and helps to recharge. Staying at odd places in Bremen hurt my energy levels and confidence in myself. Moving to Hamburg manifested a certain level of inner peace and a new point of reference: “what I am going through is hard, and things aren’t working out perfectly, but I am really happy to be here and go through this experience”.
Experiences are worth more than things. However, things do matter, especially those that we use every day, and if possible, they should be kept in a perfectly functioning condition, repaired or exchanged when necessary. My MacBook had display problems since the end of May but was workable, and I was postponing to solving the issues. However, these problems made me use it less and less, giving me a shot of stress each time I was about to use it (what if it completely breaks now? what if I’m making it worse) and thus dampening my creativity. I feel it especially now as I got the new MacBook. It is perfectly functional, but I still have a hint of a sinking feeling when I want to use it. It will take time. And this was not the single case this year, and I am still carrying the consequences of not acting immediately.
A lot of things are currently ongoing, such as learning to sell my stuff on eBay (through experience), researching the way to the desired career path (through reaching out to my extended network), and generally forming connections with people.