A 10 Min Diary: Thinking About 2023
Reflecting on the year ahead
“As the final pages of this year’s diary are filled with memories both vibrant and fleeting, I am reminded of a tranquil autumn sunset. The sky, a canvas of warm oranges, pinks, and purples, as if painted by the masterful brush of Makoto Shinkai himself. Each memory, like a leaf falling from a tree, holds a story of its own. A story of growth and self-discovery. As I reflect upon the year that has passed, I am struck by a sense of nostalgia, yet at the same time, a sense of excitement for what the new year may bring. Let us turn the page, and see where this journey takes us next.” — ChatGPT
Ten years from now, we will look back at the events that unfolded in the December of 2022 with nostalgia and introspection. The world will never be the same again.
Looking back at the goals I set for myself at the start of 2022, here’s how things went;
- I did not write a lot of poetry this year. Almost two years passed, and the book I was writing was still a work in progress. Let’s see how many poems I will write in 2023. However, I am not keeping any specific targets this time.
- I did not switch my job or take any big career bets. In 2021, the market was extremely rewarding for a job switch, but the latter half of 2022 was about rising interest rates, economic uncertainty, and layoffs. I focused more on stability in these macroeconomic conditions.
- I did not end up building a community of 100k+ folks on LinkedIn. I am at ~45k followers at the time of writing this diary. While metrics give a sense of progress, I am pretty happy with how things are. I shared more details on my annual metrics and growth on Linkedin in this post. One goal for this year is the same as last year ~to build a good and meaningful community of 100k+ folks without using unethical or cringe hacks.
- I planned to build and publish two apps of my own. The ideas and some parts of the design were ready, but I did not finish them. To be honest, I was just lazy. However, I am continuing to build them slowly. I also planned to make a video game. That didn’t happen, either. I had an epic failure in terms of building stuff in 2022.
- I did make a new Catflix Comic and also made YouTube videos related to Gaming. I was testing the waters to do something instead of nothing. Two other goals I set for myself that I did accomplish.
That said, there were also a lot of unplanned things that happened.
Highlights of 2022
2022 was a lot of changes and new beginnings in life. I was able to balance my slow living strategy and make these transitions. Here are some noteworthy moments.
- Started the year with WFH. It was ok but was certainly a bit lackluster. I used to work solely from my room; honestly, I hardly remember those days. Most of them were similar and mundane. Changing location from time to time and upgrading my workspace would have helped a bit.
- I relocated to Bangalore in June to move to hybrid work. I used to go to the office for about ~2 days a week. It did look like a good change. The flexibility was lovely, and I took full advantage of it.
- One new habit I tried to inculcate this year was walking. I bought my first smartwatch and started tracking my steps and other parameters. I walked back home almost every day I went to the office. It was a 3 km stretch. It turned out to be an excellent habit to make.
- Since May 2022, I have started tracking my monthly expenses. I built a financial system where I assume I make 30K INR per month and have to plan, save and live every month with just that (in Bangalore). This includes all living expenses like rent, food, travel, internet, electricity, commute, and even any essential shopping. It’s an absolute hard limit. This, however, does not include some one-time expenses that I incurred while moving to Bangalore or some gadgets I had to buy. Guess what!? In all the 8 months I planned for, I never exceeded 30K INR per month. I could even build a savings fund from the small amounts I used to save from this limit. This was a great way to manage expenses and prevent unnecessary lifestyle inflation. I plan to publish a separate blog post on living under 30K INR in Bangalore sometime soon. #StayTuned
- 2022 was a year of podcasts and interviews. I watched/listened to countless of them across YouTube. The amount of awareness and learning I get from these podcasts is insane. I often keep one running in the background while doing mundane tasks or working from home. Learning from other people’s experiences and making them our own is a powerful and efficient way to gain exposure. Overall, I found this new habit extremely useful and efficient.
- I wanted to get hands-on with my experiments and put something out there in the real world. One of the things I created this year was www.xqbuilds.com. It’s like my personal website. It’s a build in progress, and I have many ideas to implement further. It was rewarding and gave me practical experience designing, building, and deploying something from scratch.
- 2022 was also the year that I finally started investing in the stock market. I did a lot of research, analyzing business and technicals and understanding economic trends. I also did a lot of asset diversification and built my entire personal finance portfolio. This includes stocks, MFs, emergency funds, and other assets like FDs and NPS. My overall portfolio did fairly well, and I am all set for 2023.
- On the professional career side, I got promoted to Senior Software Engineer. I didn’t switch my job and decided to stay as I felt a bit of stability and flexibility in my current role, which might not be there elsewhere. As I always say, the work-life balance I had helped me do all these other things. I did give one Google interview in January 2022 when the recruiter approached me. It was a fun and enlightening experience. I did not clear it, but I learned a lot.
- I got my first 1 million views post on LinkedIn. Here’s a link to all my top posts this year.
- In the second half of 2022, I have aggressively explored Generative AI and am bullish on this technology. I think this is a once-in-a-decade opportunity, and I hope to capitalize on that.
Last but not least. I could divide my year into two parts, pre-ChatGPT and post-ChatGPT. ChatGPT changed my life fundamentally and how I think about everything. The more I explore, the more incredible it gets. It has greatly improved productivity, and I always find new and better ways to use it. I have been tinkering with the GPT models since 2019. However, this is the first time people outside tech and AI communities have witnessed what’s coming. The world is going to get crazier, for sure. Here’s a LinkedIn post where I document everything I have experimented with ChatGPT.
The question remains a constant across the years. I always come back to one idea- the best way to predict the future is to create it. With that in mind, let me share my thoughts on some of the biggest changes we are seeing in the world right now.
In 2021, we saw aggressive hiring by many tech companies. Fast forward to now- massive layoffs.
“We have overhired”- That’s what almost every company that did layoffs is telling. With rising interest rates and inflation and no accessible capital, everyone’s cautious of a recession to come. As the situation gets more unpredictable, it is important to stay prepared. Our preparedness and skills are our ultimate job security.
I talk about some red flags to look out for to identify if a company is at risk of layoffs in this LinkedIn post. For more details on how to stay prepared, check out this post. A few more extended thoughts are documented in this post.
I have been conservative with my expenses and savings over the last few months and plan to continue to do so to stay ready for a recession if it happens. As of today, I have followed with almost every point I mentioned in those LinkedIn posts. That said, this too shall pass. Tech is still a very high-demand domain. Lots of other companies are hiring techies, even now. With the hyper-rapid digitalization of all types of businesses, some form of tech consultation and support will be needed by everyone.
To be honest, I think the next wave of growth in tech, supported by AI, will be even more brutal- in a good way. Post that, I guess we will reach another downfall and ultimately stabilize at a plateau of sustainability. I remain bullish on tech while staying prepared for unforeseen events. I would think of 2023 as a year of preparation to face what’s to come next ~the AI revolution.
Adapting to the Era of Generative AI
I read a quote online: "AI won't replace you, but a person using AI will.”
I think that’s pretty much how the next decade or so is going to play out. AI can be used in every single domain out there. It doesn’t matter what your profession is, but knowing how to use AI will help you stay ahead of the curve.
I have been tinkering with generative AI for a long time, since the GPT-2 days. I have seen this new wave coming since then. For many others outside of tech, ChatGPT was the first real demo showcasing what AI is capable of.
Generative AI includes large language, image, video, audio, and 3D models that can remix human knowledge and patterns to create something new and coherent. The most direct application is the content industry. You can now almost instantly create any content. Text, images, music, audio, video, and applications will keep improving.
I plan to integrate AI into all my workflows and explore to squeeze out every single way I can use it. This technology must not be ignored but instead acknowledged and embraced. It’s like the new calculator, a tool that helps us get 100X productive in various tasks.
Here are some more thoughts I shared over time on this topic.
- How to think about AI taking our jobs?
- A new job role created by AI- the AI manager
- More on AI and the job market (One of my predictions goes wrong here ~about the GPT4 release date)
Scaling Content and Growing Distribution
This will be the most important topic of focus for me in 2023. Most ideas out there are not new. Any excellent idea has no value, inherently, unless and until it is executed well. And distribution is a core component of any good execution plan. Thousands of people of the eight billion on this planet will have the same novel ideas as you. Even if you have a unique idea, someone with more leverage, influence, and capital can copy it and execute it better than you.
In a world as such, distribution differentiates the potential of what we can do. It’s not easy to replicate. Content is a key driver to building this distribution on the internet. It also builds trust with it. Together, they give us leverage for anything we want to do in life. It is certainly not necessary for everyone to build it. You can partner with someone else who has it. However, I am personally interested in being that someone for myself. Hence, it’s integral to me. Creating content is also something I have been super passionate about for a long time.
I plan to expand my content portfolio in every way I can for the same. If you are building a consumer-facing brand in 2023, make sure you have a solid content strategy, too, for building trust and distribution. Oh, by the way, feel free to consult me on LinkedIn if you want help.
Here are some more thoughts I shared before on this topic.
Everything I plan and execute brings me closer to my ultimate goal of being a solopreneur. With that said, I kept a few goals for 2023. As always, I want to practice slow living and try these things at my own pace. No rush, no race.
- To make a YouTube Video on xq builds channel (subscribe if you want to join me on this journey).
- To scale my LinkedIn presence to 100K followers while staying true to my content and ethics.
- Continue adding features and functionalities to www.xqbuilds.com
- Build an app incorporating generative AI technologies.
- Make a new habit that can help me reach 10k steps even on days I work from home.
- Build a video game, a goal I couldn't achieve in 2022.
Let’s see what I complete by the end of the year.
Let me end this entry with similar lines I said last year-
All the best to you, too, for a successful year ahead. May you find the inspiration for some strong resolutions, and together let’s define humanity’s future!
Happy (Belated) New Year!