Many people I admire publish their yearly reviews, and I love reading those. I find it insightful to read other people's life lessons. So this time, I decided to give it a try and publish my own. I'll be honest, I feel slightly scared to post this since talking about my accomplishments feels like bragging and talking about bad experiences like whining. But I'm gonna do it anyway since courage is not the lack of fear. It's doing what's right despite being afraid.
I believe talking about my own life lessons is the right thing to do since it helps me better understand myself and can help other people going through similar struggles. If this post manages to make you think and reflect on your own life, I encourage you to try and write your own yearly review and inspire others to do the same.
To keep this post short yet capture the most meaningful things that happened, I decided to structure it in three sections, what went well, what went wrong, and what I learned. Each section contains three examples with a description of why this is meaningful to me.
What went well
I released my first open-source project, which has become a part of OWASP: https://raiderauth.com. At first, it got some attention, both from the media and the security community, but after some time, the development stopped, and attention stalled. I got sick and had no choice but to put the project on hold.
Recently I picked up the project again and will continue working on that in my free time. This year, I will focus on three goals:
- making Raider more mature
- lower the entry barrier to make it easier for other people to start using it
- and building a community around the project.
After numerous interviews, I found a job I'm excited about, which I just started in January, as a penetration tester for Modis. There isn't much I can talk about this yet since I only started, but I'd like to thank my new colleagues for the warm welcome!
2021 was, for me personally, the year I have learned the most in my life. Building a business from scratch is extremely stressful. But the pressure and stress have forced me to make radical changes in my life and find creative solutions to my problems.
Even though I haven't managed to build a sustainable business, I have learned a lot, and I don't regret trying. I managed to achieve many personal and professional goals, which improved my life significantly compared to the last year.
Both joyful and painful events teach you something. Someone said pain is just knowledge rushing in too fast.
What didn't go well
I had the misfortune to be sick for a few months. I had two surgeries, one of which went badly. I couldn't do anything productive for a long time. It was both physically and mentally exhausting.
I had plenty of time to reflect and think about what I was doing with my life. I realized that if this would've been the end of me, I am not satisfied with some of the things I left behind. This acted as a painful reminder that I and everyone I know will die sooner or later. And there's no way around it. Thankfully, now I'm fine, but this experience made me reflect on my life and reprioritize my values.
My risk planning didn't include me getting sick for long periods. I did not manage to build a sustainable business before the disaster struck. But that's okay. I did learn a lot by trying. Now I will continue learning while working at Modis.
I started writing on my book, but sadly, I still didn't make it a regular habit. I write occasionally, but I will only succeed if I make it a habit. This year I want to put more effort into making writing a regular practice, publish things more often and structure my ideas into something that resembles a book.
What did I learn
The only thing certain in life is death.
Death is a taboo talk in our society. No one wants to die, but we all know it's inevitable. Everyone has a limited number of days left to live, so the best you can do is make those days count and focus on what's really important to you.
Time is your most important asset. You'll never get your lost time back. Spend more of it on people and things you care about and less on doing insignificant things and people that affect you negatively.
The trajectory you're going in matters more than where you currently are
Life is never going according to your plans, and that's okay. More important than your plans is the trajectory you're moving in. When facing a complicated decision, I find it helpful to ask myself: How would I decide differently if I knew that I had only one year left to live. This helps me remove the short-term biases from the picture and figure out what is really important to me.
Nothing of significance has ever been accomplished by a single person.
No significant changes in human history have been achieved by lone wolves. Those are done by groups of people with similar beliefs. You might even belong to a group without realizing it. The people you hang out with, the ones you follow on social media. In each group, there are leaders and followers. You either lead or are led. Choose your groups wisely and follow your values when deciding what to spend your time and energy on.