Date: 2023-01-04 | reflect | reflections | reviews
In 2022 I shifted into what I'll call a Reflection phase. In many ways it's a natural foil to an Observation phase - a falling action to a rising action. This has resulted in a less "fun" Ham but perhaps also a more "sane" one.
This phase shift was triggered - I believe - by a shift in underlying values, resulting in an array of small changes acrosss my domains as behaviors shifted to accomodate their new value foundations.
If I had to summarize these changes I'd say I find myself getting a little slower, a little older, and a bit more particular. I think that's okay.
I've refactored my life organization model into The Creation Cycle. It's the simplest scalable system I've created for modeling and generalizing effective cycles. I currently use it as a framework for most things - from life organization to project plans. This reflection will mirror that structure.
In 2022 I got engaged to my partner, left my job as a software engineer at Instagram, became a software engineer at Reddit, deleted my social media, traveled for 85 days (~23% of the year), shipped 4 businesses, served 74,562 views, made 0% progress towards financial independence, and generally got old and lame.
Understand what you’re trying to accomplish and the domain in which you play. (The Creation Cycle)
- Total Trips: 16
- Total Days: 85 (23% of year)
A new joke that popped up after my engagement is that it's going to be hard for us to pick a honeymoon location as we've already been "everywhere". Obviously this is an exaggeration - there are a lot of places I haven't been (namely 3 of the 6 populated continents) as Megna likes to regularly remind me.
That said - the data shows that I travel a lot and consistently more than I expected / wished to. I think this serves as an interesting case study in balance.
On the one hand I'm grateful to be in a position to travel as much as I do. I often take it for granted and forget that many don't have the same opportunity to do so - my mom's recent post-Paris renaissance serves as a poignant, personal reminder.
On the other hand I think it's important to pay attention to these struggles. Each one is a signal that some imbalance / inefficiency may exist - even if it's a #firstworldproblem.
Most visited: Atlanta (4 trips, 21 days)
I spent a lot of time in Atlanta this year focused on family. My brother graduated and started college, I wanted to ensure their first international trip ever (/ in a lifetime) went smoothly, and I had to meet the dignitaries of member clans pre-treaty-signing.
Skiing: 3 trips (4 planned), 17 days (21 days planned)
I've skiied a lot since I first learned in 2021. It was a great way to get out of the house and meet up with friends in person during a global pandemic (even if it wasn't the CDC-recommended choice) and pushed the boundaries for what I was comfortable doing. It also gave me a glimpse at some of the wonders of cold-weathered wilderness - I usually travel away from cold weather so have never really seen snow-capped landscapes in person. They're beautiful.
But after two seasons at several resorts I think it's time for me to hang up my skis. I've written a longer post on why I'm done skiing but it really comes down to it not feeling worth it to me - the main detractors being its cost, not "loving" it, and high implicit risk.
More Adventure: 9 trips, 47 days
The rest of my travel spawned from weddings and associated activities, bucket list travel locations, birthdays, and ofc my engagement.
- No skiing (but travel to mountains okay)
- Quality > Quantity (less, longer trips - ideally several days each)
- Health first (ample rest, good sleep, limited stess / effort)
One of my largest struggles this year has been a phase shift in what I find fun / adventurous / meaningful. I've spent much of the year trying activities new and old that sparked joy and reflecting on the value it brought me. A large finding is that many of the activities that have consistently sparked joy in past years no longer do - at least not in the same ways. This is what I call a (life) phase shift.
In my early 20s, and definitely in my year in DC and first few years in NYC (what I call the "honeymoon phase" with the city), I spent a lot of time out with friends exploring new places / experiences, going out to clubs / bars / shows / events, and generally exulting in the wonders of young-energy-with-money-to-fuel-it (even trying to make a business out of it).
I dub this an Observation phase - lots of resources towards finding / trying / experimenting.
The thing about these Observation phases is that a lot of bets don't pan out - a large part of learning is figuring out what doesn't work so you can reposition to what does. At that point in my life I was broke wrt experience / knowledge with a wealth of time / energy / new-job-funds so this investment in Observation / discovery really made sense. Add on the implicit wonder of experiencing the unknown - especially when joined with others on a similar journey - and the equation for Observation-led Adventures makes sense.
Yet Observation phases by themselves are usually not sustainable. There are very few areas of reality where discovery sans capitalization can be a long-term strategy (without unlimited time / resources).
Most discovery / growth (Observation) phases are thus accompanied by a capitalization (Creation) and simplification (Reflection) phase. The capitalization phase is focused on capitalizing / leveraging the newly discovered opportunities to generate returns on the opportunity and the simplification phase is typically based on optimizing the portfolio - doubling down on the bets that panned out and cutting those that didn't.
I think the simplest metaphor is probably with food. We all like food and we all like finding new foods / restaurants to try. So we try new foods / restaurants (Observation). However we don't only eat new foods at new restaurants because that's very expensive in time / money / cognitive load and honestly not all of these foods / restaurants we try are very good and very few are better than our current favorites. So most of the time we eat a small rotation of our favorite things from our favorite places (Creation) and occasionally try new restaurants we think could be good (Observation) and then we update our rotation based on our new-found knowledge (Reflection) - keeping the best ones and discarding the ones that don't work for us.
We can also see this happening today in our current market correction / recession. In Tech - companies got fat and bloated with money which they used to make a lot of big bets on experimental things in the hope that some would be "the next big thing" (Observation). Most didn't work out so now that money's tight they're entering the simplification (Reflection) phase to cut their losses and double down on what's working.
So this is my argument that growth (Observation) is not sustainable as a sole focus.
For those wondering, I believe that a good capitalization (Creation) / growth (Observation) ratio is somewhere around 80/20. Most resources go towards things that are working, some to new things that could work.
Okay - back to Adventure. My current hypothesis is that I'm now deep into diminishing returns territory for the discovery (Observation) phase. I've tried a lot of things and learned a lot about the world / myself in the process. Thus new things tend to have less chance / magnitude of being wholly novel (which reduces the implicit wonder of exploring the unknown) and their odds of being a top contender for my time is even lower (and that's assuming the experiment comes out positive which is not a given).
In other words - my current top 10 is the top 10 things I've discovered / capitalized on in my life. There are likely some things out there that have the potential to be in my top 10 that I've missed (and others that will be in my top 10 as my values continue to change). But the likelihood of actually finding something that does that in a random Observation session has dropped dramatically over the past 5 years as I've explored a critical area of the available opportunity space.
So I think I'm in a Reflection phase (and probably have been for most / all of 2022). I'm cutting back on the things that aren't bringing me top 10 value and doubling down on those that do.
In many ways, this is the core of minimalism: More of what you love, less of what you don't
In other words, I'm getting old and lame. And that's okay.
One of the biggest happenings in 2022 is that I got engaged to my partner Megna. In Paris. With both our immediate families.
On the one hand it's scary / unbelievable. I've never done this before and it seems like a really big life decision - one with far reaching implications into both our lives and those close to us. It's also something that I wouldn't have guessed I'd be doing even 2-3 years ago (in my growth / discovery phase when I analyzed the monetary risk of moving in with her). So the questions of - is this the right choice? is this the right time? are we doing this right? - are very real.
On the other hand it feels like the right choice. In fact it feels so right it doesn't even feel like a choice - at least not one that leads to change. It seems like a choice to continue what we've been doing for several years and what we hope to continue doing for many more (so much so that when we get a "congrats" we're like what did we do?).
All this to say that I'm pleasantly surprised about how all this turned out and am very excited to see where we have to go. It's scary. There is no "right" decision. But it seems right to me.
Also note to young-self that the impromptu vacation to North Carolina to visit that girl you liked but weren't sure she liked you back worked out.
The Research domain is new this year and really represents the core of what an Observe phase is to its parent Creation Cycle - "The first step of any process is to understand the domain". Research is basically a strategic, intensive investigation towards understanding so makes sense these are closely related.
For my life - Research is really around formalizing the problems and questions that are important to me and working to solve them rather than allowing them to sit and fester - common symptoms being bouts of stress or anxiety leading to poor sleep and irritability. There should be large overlap here with other domains of my life since those are the areas important to me and thus worthy of resources to better understand and optimize. So here I'll just list some high level things I researched and link to their respective domains where we'll go into greater detail.
Some areas of Research this year:
[Create] - Business
I've been really focused on how to iterate on my businesses more effectively. I've largely been disappointed with the speed and quality of my business cycles which I believe to be the root of my struggles here. Considering this is essentially my infinite game, this is something I would like to get right as soon as I can so I can reap the rewards longer. So I've spent a good amount of time / money(probably too much when compared with application) learning more about this.
- Validating and shipping businesses - YC (Build Sprints, Startup School)
- Effective business iterations - The Lean Startup, creating The Creation Cycle
- Efficient business technologies -> see F# and CloudSeed in Business
- I dove into Functional Programming, Domain Driven Design and eventually landed on F# as my go-to language - Domain Modeling made Functional is excellent if thicc which goes for most everything Scott Wlaschin writes on F# for Fun and Profit
- Customer Research - Finding the Right Message
- Along with all the research required for various Shares / Creations I've made as prototypes to test these learnings
[Create] - Career
I've been very interested in what a meaningful life looks like for me as that provides an endpoint from which to work back from to better understand and compare potential next steps / paths. This was especially important for me this year as I considered leaving my job at Instagram and figuring out what was next.
Some resources I thought were interesting:
- What makes a career meaningful - 80,000 hours
- Effective Altruism - essentially trying to math out the most impactful actions individuals can take - GiveWell
- Effective strategies for positive, impactful careers - Give and Take
[Create] - Shares
Shares has returned as a core subdomain of mine and I really wanted to make it work for me but it was very costly and the quality wasn't up to my standards. So I did some research into how others were doing this consistently.
- Public speaking, stories, videos, YouTube, scripts, automation, and creatorpreneurship - Ali Abdaal's Part-Time YouTube Academy and lots of random blog posts / videos / etc
I also did some intensives into the kinds of tools / equipment I use to go through my life:
- Running gear - shoes
- Daily wear - pants, shirts, socks
- Computer stuff - mouse, keyboard, laptop
- Apps - Deleting my social apps
I spent way too much time and money on these pursuits but I expect them to bring 1% improvements for years to come which is my best justification for these nonessential purchases.
- HamForGood: $86 (-16% vs 2021's $102.04)
For the past 10+ years, creating projects in the hopes of making money off them has been a substantial domain of focus for me. The exact form and resource allocation has fluctuated over the years but the core idea has remained the same (also the general lack of results, which I'm working on).
The first such gig of mine I can remember was a video game review blog serving ads I made in high school. I was subsequently permabanned from the ad network.
During this phase of Reflection and career shifts, I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to do in this life.
- Where do I want to end up?
- Where does my current path lead?
- What do I need to change to course correct?
Creation continues to be a core pillar of that vision and I've taken steps to further develop what that means for me.
- A generalized framework for effective creation -> The Creation Cycle
- Shares refactored from a core domain (and sometimes a no domain) into a subdomain of Create
- CTECH (previously Art) removed from my domains altogether though will likely live on as they align with other pursuits (like SMASH_THE_BUTTON in Shares)
I don't think this is a final version of myself. One of life's few guarantees is change and I reroll these basically every year. But it does feel like it's the most stable representation of my infinite game yet produced. Call it a standard release for now.
Title: Technologist / Tinypreneur
- Create - Build a better world
- Revenue: $165.37 (+NaN% v 2021's $0)
- Profit: -$$$$$
- Businesses shipped: 4 (+NaN% v 2021's 0)
I believe that you must perform many full, quality cycles of a thing before you get good at that thing. IME this quantity is 100+.
I also believe that most domains follow a power curve - 10-20% of the domain population makes up 80-90% of the impact.
The Simple Scalable System I've been utilizing to try to leverage both beliefs is one of tiny bets - many cheap iterations, doubling down on those that work.
Unfortunately I've been utilizing that strategy primarily in theory. In reality I've shipped very few things with dubious quality via very long cycle times and at large expense. Ultimately that's been disappointing and is my current prime suspect for disappointing returns.
On the bright side, this is an input so the quality and quantity of full cycles is completely under my control. All I have to do is do it.
And I have been getting better, just not yet where I want to be. By the end of 2022 H1, I'd only launched one business (CloudSeed). Since then I've launched 3 other MVEs making heavy use of the CloudSeed framework / boilerplate to reduce costs - though none are yet monetized so not quite a "full" cycle.
- [Active] CloudSeed - A project boilerplate for SvelteKit + F# (previously C#)
- Problem: Takes a long time to set up a new fullstack project
- Solution: Everything you need to spin up a simple, scalable fullstack app w SvelteKit + F#
- Positioning: I found myself wasting a lot of time duplicating project code so wanted to make an efficient boilerplate for myself. If nothing else, I've used it to great success to improve my own workflows.
- Status: Active - 2 sales this year and I use this for all my projects and update it regularly with better paradigms as I find them (like this 1% perf improvement)
- [Passive] Genspo - A simple site to produce random word pairings
- Problem: Inspiration is a flighty thing and sometimes you just need a spark to get it going
- Solution: Make prompt generation simple
- Positioning: I rerolled random word generators a lot in my time making generative art and saw many others integrating this into their workflows as well. Some research showed that this was a surprisingly active area though with little path to large monetization - perfect for a tinypreneur.
- Status: Passive - Still running with tiny usage. Still think it's a good idea / useful though limited path to monetization and reduced synergy w my life (now that CTECH is non-core) make its value prop a bit less appealing. I think I will come back to this in a few months and revalidate.
- [Active] Cronlog - Make your data from various apps actually useful to you
- Problem: I have an app for everything, but it's hard to actually make this data useful
- Solution: Pull this data into a central place and provide easy to use graphs etc for what actually matters
- Positioning: This is hard to scale but has high synergy with what I already do regularly in my Reflections. So worst case no one uses it but me and I get to speed up my calculations each year (see example usage in Health).
- Status - Active - just shipped in December. Small, positive response but unclear path to monetization / scale. I kinda think it's too broad and could benefit from being super niche instead.
- [Archived] Hangout - Curating the best happy hours in East Village (and maybe the world!)
- Problem: Cheap, quality happy hours are hard to find in NYC
- Solution: Make these easy to find and compare
- Positioning: This is a tarpit idea that doesn't scale. So maybe by nicheing down to a specific neighborhood we remove scalability concerns and increase ability to capitalize on market. Also wanted to try working with Megna on something and she's a fan of happy hours. Also wanted to look into forms, pagination, etc w SvelteKit.
- Status: Archived - Ultimately felt a bit too tarpity / non scalable and with limited synergy w my life. Maybe would've been good a few years ago in my Adventurous Growth phase
Some things I need to work on:
- More full, quality cycles
- MVEs must include a path to scale / monetization
After 3.5 years I left my job as a software engineer at Meta / Instagram. I had the pleasure of working with incredibly smart / collaborative people, on systems of mind-boggling scale (#trillions), supporting products used by billions every day. That's the kind of role I was looking for going in and it delivered.
But it was time for a change. I coalesced on 3 big values that mattered to me for my next steps of my career and I felt that there were likely other roles that would fit them better:
So I went job searching (as a Senior Software Engineer) to see what I could find. The search itself was a bit different from my 2019 job search - largely due to the difference in target levels and the kinds of organizations I was interested in.
My infinite game is Simple Scalable Systems of impact so I was uniquely interested in getting hands on with orgs scaling at high rates (like +20% / year) to continue to battle-test my own systems / skills. My hypothesis is that these kinds of problems are much more relevant to my infinite game and thus have a much higher chance of paying dividends going forward.
I spent 51.4 hours over 2.5 months on my job search resulting in an 82% pass rate. After weighing the options, I eventually landed at Reddit.
I won't go into too much depth here but some of the big value alignments I saw that made this opportunity seem like a good fit:
- Personal Impact - Reddit is one of my top social platforms along with Twitter and YouTube (esp now as I've deleted most apps). It's where I find deep discussions on things I'm intersted in like r/fsharp, r/experienceddevelopers, and r/basebuildinggames
- World impact - Reddit provides a great place for in-depth discussions on anything. You want free speech? You've got free speech - mostly and moreso than I've seen on any other mainstream platforms.
- Company Impact - Reddit, in my mind, is under capitalized. It has a huge chance to grow many multiples in a few years if it can execute with good strategy.
- Growth / Leadership opportunities - Reddit is much smaller than Big Tech. It's not a small company but has many of the same opportunities as one. Should be lots of opps to lead more projects and scale systems / business +10%
- Real-world tech - Reddit seems to be relatively practical in its tech stacks - using widely used, battle-tested technologies. One of my big gripes about Meta was that we used mostly home-grown tools. To be fair, many of these were better than anything on the external market for certain usecases - particularly because they actually scaled to planetscale which is something most products don't do (because they don't need to). But they also had their shortcomings and one is that for me I couldn't take these technologies / skills with me. Sure the underlying concepts were universal but it is annoying to get very good at certain things that are unnecessary / inapplicable in other areas.
- Well established - I didn't want to join a company without a proven business model or without an HR team. That's a lot of risk of instability and I'm a risk averse person. Reddit has been awhile for quite some time and grown a large team which signals decent operational internals.
- Good pay - If I wanted to work for no pay I would work for myself. So if I'm working for others I expect to get paid fairly.
Lots to learn and ship in 2023.
- Views: 74,562 (+42% vs 2021's 52,477)
- Leads to Projects:
- CloudSeed: 95 (33% of traffic in time range)
Note: These numbers are smaller than previous year's Shares stats as they are now tracking a much smaller number of assets. 2021's stats shown here have been filtered and recalculated accordingly.
My Shares continue to be some of my most highly-trafficked creations and another core domain that has consistently existed in some form for over a decade. I have struggled over the years with how to prioritize and position it within my life and have recently flipflopped back to having it as a core sub domain.
The truth is I get a lot of value out of these personally and their usefulness towards my life cycles as a whole are strong secondary reasons for continuation. I think writing / sharing is how you know what you think - it enables a more thorough examination of your thoughts / beliefs allowing for further refinement of these ideas. At least that's what I use it for.
I've had two mindset shifts here that I think have increased the value and reduced the cost enough to make it worthwhile to spend more resources on:
- Workflow simplification - Simplifying hamy.xyz's tech stack and my YouTube channel's production format
- Quality + Relevance > Reach - Narrowing my strategy and topics to just those things that are relevant to the rest of my Creations
- Consistency > perfect - Releasing what I have
This has reduced the cost of these cycles which has increased my enjoyment of doing them and, surprisingly, seems to have helped them find a more consistent (if much smaller) audience. This also means that each Share is more valuable to me personally - leading to more impact per cycle.
Build a simple #fsharp web API with Giraffe https://t.co/NyLBJFJVvy #FsAdvent pic.twitter.com/y6fbd4j1X8— Hamilton Greene (@SIRHAMY) December 7, 2022
In the past year I've narrowed my focus towards what I currently call: Simple Scalable Systems - which is essentially my strategy for effectively tackling most things. In practice this has been a lot of shares around how I try to build effective products - using my favorite technologies (F#, SvelteKit) and promoting several of my businesses (CloudSeed).
2022 HAMY LABS YouTube Analytics
HAMY LABS YouTube
- Views: 49,797 (+28% vs 2021's 39,012)
YouTube continues to represent a significant portion (~67%) of my reach. This traffic isn't currently as valuable to me as posts on my site as it's not currently monetized, it's often more clicks away from the Creations I'm promoting, and the content doing well on the platform is less relevant but it serves as an excellent secondary channel and I think lends a good bit more trust / credibility to the brand.
Looking back, one of the main reasons I started my channel was to get more comfortable with public speaking / presenting. My style isn't the most entertaining but I def think it's improved informationally by many multiples and has now reached the quality of a decent tech talk which is what I wanted personally / professionally. Most of this I think was just intentional iterations - Ali Abdaal's Part-Time YouTube Academy (which I took this year as Research) holds that your videos will likely be cringey til you've created at least 100 of them and I'm right at 97 so seems about right.
The other reason to start the channel was to reach a wider audience and the data seems to support that.
- Scripting Generative Art in Python - 25,253
- Blender: Rotating Objects with Python - 4,133
- Svelte is better than React - 2,914
I plan to continue publishing videos in my streamlined tech talk style - really focusing on highly relevant topics for my Creations. The relevant ones don't seem to get as much reach but those they reach are much more relevant to me and my creations - so again quality + relevance > quantity.
It's fun, I learn a lot, and my tiny following seems to enjoy it.
- Views: 24,765 (+84% vs 2021's 13,465)
My websites continue to be the backbone of my online presence. I still hold that if you do not have an independent presence on the web then you are likely overallocated and reliant on the whims of external platforms (i.e. Elon's Twitter, pay-walled Medium).
That said, they're still great for discoverability so you should still leverage them as much as you can.
Note: The following stats are only from 2022-10 on as I moved my analytics and was too lazy to merge the datasets.
2022 top traffic sources to hamy.xyz
Top Traffic Sources:
- Google - 5,262 (60%) - A huge amount of traffic comes to a few posts about specific, largely irrelevant technical topics. So a big number but not that useful to me.
- YouTube - 530 (6%) - Pretty good amount of traffic which I think speaks to the usefulness of YouTube as a second channel. This stuff is highly relevant as those are mostly the things I bother to make videos about.
- Twitter + Reddit + sergeytihon - 619 (7%) - This supports the usefulness of cross-sharing to other sites - mostly those that are text-based (sorry IG).
- Note: sergeytihon runs the F# weekly newsletter and yearly F# Advent calendar both of which I've contributed to this year.
2022 top posts - hamy.xyz
Top (relevant) posts:
- My last day at Instagram / Meta (Badge Post) - 598 (6%)
- Build a simple F# web API with Giraffe - 418 (4%)
- Godot: Script with F# - 393 (4%)
- Others: Note that 4 of the top 10 (1, 3, 5, 8) are not really relevant to me but receive a huge amount of views - mostly from Google. These are posts I created a while back and will keep up to date to continue receiving traffic but is not really synergistic with my overall brand.
Reflect on the results thus far - how can the next iteration be improved? (The Creation Cycle)
- Meditation: 61% of days
- Exercise: 55% of days (-8% v 2021's 60%)
I've undertaken several experiments in better health. My current guiding mission is to "live a happy, healthy, and impactful life". For the past several years I think I've been undervaluing the health part.
Some of my biggest findings include: potentially being sleep-deprived for a large portion of the last decade, being addicted to social media, and the impacts of an always-connected day.
Some things I've experimented with:
- Better sleep -> less going out late, less alcohol, less late night screen time -> more energy, more stable moods, + smarter (?)
- Less interruptions -> phone on silent all the time, notifications off for most apps -> less distractions, more slow / deep thinking, better use of time, + smarter (?)
- Less unintentional screen time -> notifications off for most apps, deleted social apps off my phone -> broke some serious unconscious habits -> less distractions, less zombie time -> more time towards things I care about
More on Digital Minimalism: More signal, less noise.
Overall I think most of these had positive outcomes and I'll continue to pursue them in some fashion. I really think the idea of protecting your focus is critical to personal volition and autonomy and thus for leading / building a meaningful life.
My body has continued its downward trajectory into less fit, #dadbod territory. This isn't terrible but I would like to be a little bit more fit - data shows this becomes increasingly important to ward off negative outcomes as I age. It's very much a use-it-or-lose-it area and I'd rather not lose it.
2022 time spent on cardio - from Strava
- Cardio: 38h (-16% v 2021's 45h)
- Running: 46 runs, 174 miles, 25h
- v 2021: 64 runs, 291 miles, 43h
- Biking: 37 bikes, 285 miles, 13h
- v 2021: 5 bikes, 54 miles, 2h (not fair comparison cause only had it for 1 month)
- Running: 46 runs, 174 miles, 25h
- Strength training:
- Active Days: 136
- Total Volume: 185,735 lbs
My view on running's place in my life has shifted over the past few years. I still enjoy it immensely - it's a core satifaction - but I don't have a need / want to get much faster / better, just to continue practicing. In the grand scheme of things it's a cardio I enjoy so it's less important how I perform, more that I show up and perform. As such I'm now measuring its value more now from the perspective of
timesPerformed rather than
performance and I'm normalizing this in the form of quantity and time.
2022 strength training data - from Strong, visualized with Cronlog
On the other hand cardio by itself is not enough. I think strength training is critical to long-term health. Where cardio helps the vascular system (your engine), strength training helps the musculoskeletal system (your frame). I do much simpler, smaller workouts these days - usually at home.
- Shoot for exercise 70% of days
- Prob need to stretch more
- Savings Commitment Rate: 40% (-34% vs 2021's 61%)
- Financial Independence: 30% (+0% vs 2021's 30%)
My finances took a big hit this year in the face of several headwinds - some external, many internal.
- I got paid less - Meta stocks dropped 70% over the year and I didn't get paid while between jobs.
- I spent more - Lots of research and capital improvements for my self / HAMY LABS plus some fairly large tax burdens
- Stocks tanked 20% - While I think the most important financial indicator is Savings Commitment Rate which is independent of many external forces, the whole idea is to target Financial Independence which is largely market driven. Thus a downturn in markets still shows up in metrics I track.
My Savings Commitment Rate is the lowest it's been in years. The effective rate is likely a bit higher than this as I've included my tax burden here as part of spending to keep things simple. But even without the burden it's still lower than usual do to a high volume of discretionary spending (i.e. Wants rather than Needs).
2022 Spending Breakdown by Category over time
Top spending categories (sans Taxes):
- Observe (32%)
- Trips and travel - 64% (20%)
- Adventure - 25% (8%)
- Connection - 11% (4%)
- Needs (28%)
- Rent - 50% (14%)
- Food - 22% (7%)
- BECFFEE - 14% (4%)
- Projects (18%)
- YouTube - 88% (16%)
- Capital Improvements + Big Buys (18%)
When we look over time, it's clear that my spending increased quite a lot this year vs previous years. By category there's some red flags but nothing super crazy. I think the crazy becomes more clear if we breakout by the top sub categories:
- Trips and travel - 20% - driven by my many trips and excursions this year (Adventure)
- Capital Improvements + Big Buys - 18% - I bought a lot of things I wanted /shrug (Research)
- Projects - YouTube - 16% - driven by equipment and learning expenses
- Rent - 14%
- Food - 11%
This makes it more clear that my top 3 expense categories are all discretionary and all significantly larger than many of my core recurring Needs. These are things I'll be looking to cut down on next year.
2022 Financial Independence % over time
Markets go up and down and this year was a big down year. So we can see that my progress towards FI was exactly 0%. This can be disheartening but the truth is this is normal - our economy cycles every 3, 5, 8 years. Any wealth strategy that does not take this into account is not rooted in reality.
It's typically bad practice to goal on things you can't control as it's a bad indicator of whether you're working on the right things or not. This is why I goal my finances on Savings Commitment Rate - this is something I can control and is a core component of both understanding how sustainably you're spending and how it impacts long-term financial independence.
2022 Savings Commitment Rate by month
While I didn't do as well this year as I had previously, I did continue pumping money into stocks. This is my strategy - the Simple Path to Wealth. Even a downturn when money is tight can be an opportunity - an opportunity to buy the same assets at a reduced price. That is if you're willing to take some short-term losses and risks and ultimately believe in the long-term value of the US stock market. This is a bet I take because if those assumptions are false then my money won't have any value anyway =).
- Less discretionary purchases - I can probably lower Capital Improvements by a large % though trips and travel are very likely to remain the same / go up esp as have large fam expenses coming up
- Less unreasonable Projects investments - This is my infinite game so on one hand I should be okay spending here. On the other the amount I spent on some of these projects was egregious relative to their returns so need to cut these on my path to profitability.
- Journal: 26% of days
Discovering the core shifts in my values was stressful. I wasn't sure where they were coming from and the symptoms were popping up everywhere.
- I didn't want to drink as much
- I didn't want to stay out late
- I wasn't interested in going to shows
- I wasn't sure I needed a job
- I was willing to pay for BECFFEE each morning
I had to slowly come to terms with the fact that while these values, these feelings were different - they were authentic. I wasn't hiding from something. I wasn't lying to myself. I really, genuinely just didn't care about a lot of the things that I'd valued so highly so recently.
Operating like that wasn't true - like nothing had changed - would be disingenuous to myself and those I connect with - even if business as usual was the less painful / awkward option short-term.
- I did want to stay in and read a book
- I did want to get out early and pay for a BEC and two coffees before lunch
- I did want to explore the deserted main street of the tiny town we passed through
- I did want to get enough of my favorite socks that I never have to wear a non-favorite sock ever again even when I haven't done my laundry in awhile
So that's where I am. I'm feeling slower, older, and more particular than I have in the past. It's had wide-ranging effects, big and small, on how I have fun, how I interact, how I view purpose, etc
And that's okay. It's scary. It's different. But it's okay.
- I probably need to journal more. I think this would've helped me understand and come to terms with this transformation faster and w less stress.
As the cycle of 2022 comes to a close - one of Reflection - I'm looking forward to that of 2023. Most cycles start again and in my cycle (The Creation Cycle) Reflection is followed by Observation.
I'm sure this phase of Observation will be different than the ones of my early 20s but I'm equally sure it will have just as much Adventure as the previous ones. Just maybe a bit slower and less varied.
Here's to a 2023 filled with Observation (growth / discovery / your-fave-synonym-here), Creation, and Reflection.
Health and prosperity.