Reflecting on 2019 by Daniel Deutsch

Daniel Deutsch
Dec 28, 2019 · 11 min read
Photo by Daniel Olah on Unsplash — https://unsplash.com/photos/OlTjeydUpQw

Another year has passed and it is time to have a look backward to see what has changed, what can be adapted and improved.

Table of Contents

Finishing business law degree

This year it was time to finish the law degree. The remaining classes, were banking law, civil procedure law, and bankruptcy law. All proved to be demanding. Especially banking law was painful. It is important to understand that the content of this law field was very interesting but the organization and grading were poor. Hence I have some thoughts to share.

University, in my opinion, should be a place where people should help each other to achieve wisdom and knowledge. Too often this is not the case. Academic personnel sometimes degenerate into an insufficient examination body without any further help. This was the case with this class. The challenge that I was facing was the unprofessional way of grading and the poor help in learning the material. Surely many people just complain, but this does not lead to anywhere. One aspect for me was to inform the program director of this problematic field.

Another aspect was to grow with this experience myself. It classifies as a great example of hardships in life. Very often things do not go the way we expect. This does not necessarily mean that it is just the fault of others, but maybe there are necessary changes on both sides to be made. For me, it was identifying what the actual problem is and how I could change to get past it. Because in many situations it is the emotion that distracts us from seeing the real cause. In my case, it was the negative emotion of not getting past the exam. Changing the learning strategy was not enough as the knowledge was not the problem. It was, in fact, the person who was grading. Hence it was necessary to understand the grader's expectations. It was not to test knowledge but to follow a very simple examination scheme. After understanding this, it was doable.

The takeaways from this are:

  1. Understand the real cause of a problem by subtracting the emotion.
  2. If a person is part of a problem, examine the actions and views of this person.
  3. Always be persistent. No matter how often you have to try. Change the way of tackling the problem and adapt accordingly. Like a machine learning algorithm ;)

After finishing the master thesis the master's degree was done. Interesting for me was that it did not overwhelm me with feelings of accomplishment or joy. It was just something I had finished after many years of hard work. I think part of the missing joy from this is the very poor response from the job market. It is important to clarify that business law can be a very lucrative and interesting field to work in, but it does not comply with my expectations on how I want to live my life and especially my work life. This comes from my experiences in working in the tech industry, which seems to be better in nearly all aspects. Better payment, more flexibility in working, more promising companies, more diverse colleagues, better vibes. This is just my current feeling and observations, maybe I have not seen enough to judge this correctly.

Another thing to take away was the celebration of the degree. I was celebrating it with friends and family. This showed to be a very nice thing. Even though it was not so important for me personally to have the degree, it was for family members and friends. Hence the celebration was for them. Fulfilling their expectations and hopes is a nice thing and creates some satisfaction.

Evaluating the job market and company experiences

This is something every graduate has to do at least once in his life. Evaluating your value in the job market, selling yourself and getting to work with a nice company to fulfill your dreams.

As mentioned above this showed me that the legal sector has limited positive things to offer. It is a saturated and very competitive market. There are many law graduates. Many have similar backgrounds and the law firms take just the very best of them. As the law itself and especially the career path for becoming an attorney are very strict and tied to the country, it forces graduates to comply to a heavily regulated system. For complying individuals, this is no problem. It is difficult for the ones, that have unique ways of seeing, changing and improving things. And this is the main issue for me. Complying with antique standards, avoiding change as much as possible and treating everyone the same. In my experience, the legal sector has a tendency to go in exactly this direction, which is not very appealing.

Apart from this observation, I was also able to collect insights in firms and also in many application processes.

Takeaways are:

  1. Apply for many many positions and start as much as possible. This is the only way to identify your own strengths and needs for a job and also gives you a good overview of the market.
  2. Do not accept a job that does not fit your values. This is the number one factor for unhappiness in your life. Work makes up a big part of your life. You should enjoy it to the fullest and not accept the view of people telling you otherwise. Most of the time they are unsatisfied with it on their own and want to pull you down to their shit.
  3. Constantly challenge yourself and your standards for work. We live in the year 2019. There are ways of making a ton of money by just putting pictures on the internet. This should remind you that everything is constantly evolving and changing. There is no need for doing a 9 to 5 job and doing repetitive stupid work over a long period of time. If you find yourself in a situation like this, leave.
  4. Evaluate if a conflict provides an opportunity. In job life, one thing that keeps you from getting more or better is the fear of conflict. Avoiding unpleasant situations is a normal tendency but limits your growth (depending on the conflict itself). Therefore, evaluate if a conflict is necessary to push you in the right direction. And if so, face it.

Stopping non-profit work

One important thing was to stop my non-profit work. It was taking too much time and I am not in the position to do work for free anymore. It was always nice to do something for others but currently this is neither the environment nor the right time for me to do it. People perceive free things as worthless and it is, in fact, a lose-lose situation for me. I needed to understand that structuring non-profit work differently. It should ideally run on its own and just provide value. Things that drain your energy and do nothing for the organizer himself are a waste of time for all people involved. We live in a world where action is valued in money. Doing something for free means that you are providing low value. Even though this is not true my experiences till now have assured me this. That is why companies ultimately need to make money. Providing something always costs something. That is why every stable company has to make money to sustain itself. There is also some confusion about profit itself. Non-profit is often perceived as something honorary. But in fact, everything that provides value on a larger scale has to distribute its earnings. Profit is just what is left after subtracting all the expenses. It allows the entity to invest in itself to grow and become even bigger and better.

Starting another study

This year I started the Artificial Intelligence studies at JKU. I dreamed of going into more statistics and programming on an academic level. Now I was able to start this journey for new knowledge.

Key takeaways:

  1. Try many things. I think it is always good to start with many ideas and narrowing down on what you like. Same with the university. There is of course always an organizational overload, but it is necessary to keep yourself in a developing process. Finishing one intellectual field is not enough in my opinion. Life is about challenging yourself as much as possible. Today we have much information available and knowing things in just one area is just not enough anymore. There are too many competitive people around. You have to be good and diverse to be on top I think.
  2. Try a lot but enjoy failing a lot as well. This goes for attending classes. I try to do as much as possible, but depending on life around it will most certainly be too much to accomplish everything at once. So I enjoy the struggle trying to finish it and failing in the end. It is the pursuit of more that brings the reward and not the result. (I came to this realization after finishing the law degrees) Knowledge is not a sprint. It is a marathon. Working on things over many years is better than trying to get it done in a short time but not pursuing it afterward and feeling miserable while doing so.

Adopting a chilled mindset

One of the very most important realizations for me this year was on how to adopt a more chilled mindset. Looking at my past years I always tried to do as much as possible and also challenge myself as much as possible. I often did this with only having the goal in mind. The goal was always more important to me than the process and also my own being. But from an efficiency perspective, this is wrong in many ways.

First thing is that we can only control a small fraction of what happens around us. We can go in a direction, but most of the things will happen independently from our will. So this already helps in understanding that our actions have a small effect on the expectations we set us for ourselves. Therefore we can have a rather relaxed feeling about pursuing goals.

The second thing is that very, very often we do not set our own expectations but rather take expectations of others and make it our own expectations. This is very difficult to understand, so I want to illustrate it with an example from a day-to-day situation from a job:

The boss wants you to finish a project in three days. He has sold this idea to clients. He sets the expectations for the clients, himself, the company and ultimately you. You try to do your best, but it is not enough to finish it. There is the demand to work overtime and sacrifice your spare time in order to get it done. You had already relaxations plans instead of doing more work. You comply with the demand and do overtime. The project is finished poorly because of mismanaged expectations and time. The client is not satisfied. Therefore the boss is not satisfied. He blames you as you did not perform well enough. You get sick because you did not listen to yourself and your body as you needed relaxation.

This illustrative example happens so often to people around me, it is crazy. My developed mindset now is to not comply with the demand of doing overtime. Overtime is often poor management from the executive layer of a company. In the end, it is almost always a lose-lose situation. There are situations where it is fruitful and good to do overtime. This is the case when the project is demanding and the employee is motivated and wants to stretch. The employee starts from a solid healthy foundation and challenges himself with more work to grow. This is ideal. But this rarely happens. I feel like 90% of the people overdo it because other people demand it from them and then they get sick. Fear of conflict and fear of losing the job keeps them in this unsatisfying situation. Having a relaxed mindset for this and going home when it is enough for you is both brave and efficient. Better to have very motivated, healthy and rested employees then grinding them out and having them leave.

Still cold showers

It is now more than 2 years ago I started showering as cold as possible, every day. There was only one time ever since I took a warm shower. At this time I was having the flu and there was no point in harming the body with a cold shock when already fighting something. Apart from that, every day I face the merciless cold. Still often I hesitate. Long days, lots of work and just a feeling of tiredness tries to convince me that a warm shower is better. But every time I go with the cold and be grateful afterward. This year I think the 2 most important aspects of it are:

  1. Recovery enhancement after workouts.
  2. Psychological help of not getting too comfortable in life. It is the comfort of life that makes us weak. The body is actually pretty durable if you let it do its work.

More Yoga and meditation

My workout routine consists now of a lot of yoga practice. It seems to be an ultimate pursuit of mastering the body. All the possibilities of training your body and mind are incredible. Yoga is, first of all, a meditation practice. Meditation in various poses and movements. If used as a way of exercising the body it is also great. I currently have 3 types of yoga sessions for myself:

  1. Combining Vinyasa Flow with various elements of functional training and movement (inspired by the Ido Portal Method)
  2. Vinyasa Flow Yoga with emphasize on meditation/breathing
  3. Vinyasa Flow Yoga with emphasize on stretching

Depending on my schedule around, I try to fit in one weight lifting session per week, but it is optional.

Mediational wise there were various improvements. Those include:

  1. Improving Yoga
  2. Doing more breathing exercises
  3. Focusing on meditation during work. This was very interesting for me, but it helped a lot. Doing a meditation at work helps to become more aware of yourself and your emotional state. This helps a lot when having contact with clients but also in other things as doing some problem-solving. The reason is, that the quality of your work depends on the quality of your emotional state. Being 100% aware and in the moment allows you to provide results that are by far better than just ignoring issues within yourself.
  4. Focusing on feeling good. I thought “What is the reason we feel relaxed at the beach on holiday and not at work?” And the answer is “A state of mind”. Being relaxed is a state of mind and can be achieved everywhere with practice. That is why I was focusing on this as well. It can be a really wonderful thing to come home late on a rainy stressful day and just deciding to feel good. (It needs quite some practice I have to add) We perceive things as they are suggested to us. When all the people assure you that your day was bad you will want to believe it. But ultimately it is you who makes the decision.

Challenge life more

At this time life provides many opportunities. To really harness this power one needs to challenge the status quo. One thing for me was the realization that work should be distributed more. Any single dependency is bad. Ideally, you should always have more options. Everywhere. More places to work. More places to live. More people on different levels of intimacy. Options give you insight and allow you to narrow down on things that are important to you.

This will be the main thing to elaborate on in the next year.

  • Increasing options
  • Facing more challenges
  • Taking more risks
  • Taking more time for myself

About

Daniel is an entrepreneur, software developer, and lawyer. His knowledge and interests evolve around business law and programming machine learning applications. To the core, he considers himself a problem solver of complex environments, which is reflected in his various projects. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have ideas, projects or problems.

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Daniel Deutsch

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Business Law and Machine Learning. Pushing the limits to make the world a better place. Open for Projects of any kind.

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