2023 was not the best year to me.

It was a year of smaller amounts of growth, stagnation, and heartbreak. I’ve learned myself better and am starting to notice some mind shifts happening that are going to lead to great things down the road.

So let’s dig into what happened and see what we can learn from it.

The Good

The biggest life event this year was bringing Gizmo into our lives. He’s completely changed our household, and it’s already hard to imagine how things were without him. There’s been a ton of hardship around adjusting to having a puppy and training him in the way we need him to be, but there’s also been so much joy and happiness. He’s so smart and sweet and his annoyances, while big to us, are not that terrible in the wider scheme of things. We really lucked out and found the best boy for our first dog as adults!

A photo of a young dog with brown and white fur and brown eyes, grinning up at the camera with his tounge hanging out the side of his mouth.

Other fun life wins from the year:

Even though growth felt a lot slower career-wise this year, looking back I definitely did keep leveling up:

And I was able to keep investing in my side projects and network too:

The best part of so many of these things is that they layer and impact each other. I was able to use the stuff I was learning in Joy of React and while studying for the Contentful exam to improve the projects and codebases I was working on more than once. I got a lot of practice understanding large codebases and taking the frustration to euphoria pipeline. lol Working on all these tasks I created a lot of architecture design docs, which gave me great talking points that I used in my presentation on documenting your progress. It all feeds into each other, and it’s really nice when you can directly see how.

The Bad

Like most people, I have some general gripes about the year:

But I got hit hard 4 times this year:

It just didn’t stop this year, and I don’t think I realized for a very long time just how badly it all affected me. Any one of these situations would be emotionally draining for lots of people, and I dealt with one every few months this year. It’s no wonder I’ve been striving so hard just to have some calm in each day.

The Lessons

So, what can I use from this year? Of these big bads and so many decent wins, what can I learn?

Final Thoughts

I’m usually the kind of girl that loves planning and setting goals and all of that. But I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I don’t think it actually serves me. I basically never reach those goals, or take the time to break them down into next steps so that I can actually be successful with them. It just makes me feel bad every January 1st. There’s no need to put myself through that.

I started doing a “word of the year” thing a few years ago, which I like the idea of better.

In 2021 it was grit. This was the best one so far, the most inline with how I felt. And I got my first job in tech this year, so my grit really came through for me.

In 2022 it was manifest. Now that I had the job, there were so many things I wanted to do. It didn’t work out at all like I thought. But I did still get promoted and grew a lot, so it felt ok overall.

In 2023 it was build. I wanted to focus on my foundations - build up my skill, my finances, etc. This year didn’t turn out that way at all. It became more about surviving and processing and staying afloat.

But I did still manage to build some this year. I built new friendships, continued improving my skills. I’m even starting to tear down some of my personal demons and rebuild healthier brain wrinkles, change how I think about and view my world and my place inside it. It’s good to remember that it wasn’t a complete loss of a year.

So many of the things I want for myself are big, abstract, long-term ideas that are really hard to put into SMART goals. I’m tired of dreaming big and only dreaming. So this year, though I may not ever set specific goals or pick a word for the year, my intent is to focus on setting up and improving the systems and habits in my life so that my life better suits me, and allowing myself to feel and take up space and be uncomfortable. It should be a year of being seen and finding clarity and being more present.

I’m trying to remind myself to consider life an adventure. So let’s hit the road and see where it takes us. 💖