Table of Contents
A personal retrospective for 2023. This is mostly for me to reflect on the past year and to reason about how I want to approach 2024. Art has nothing to do with the content, I just thought Dall-e did a good job.
Major Goals for the Year
Here are the goals I wrote up last December 27th:
At the end of 2023, what would I consider to be a successful year?
- If I write ~3 songs
- If I hit 1 / 1.5 / 2 x bw lifts in bench / squat / deadlift [done!]
- If I read at least 1 math book and a good cs book
Goal Name Goal Type Ext Mgmt Exp/l? Community Train? Amount Completed Spend more time with $PARTNER Life No Exploit None No NaN
Finish 150 book hrs of CS study
Computer Science No Exploit Racket Discord Maybe 37/150 Finish 300 book hrs of Math study Mathematics Maybe Exploit Reddit Quant? Yes 300/300
Finish 50 book hrs of Leisure
Leisure No Explore None Yes 10/50 Write 10 blog posts Mathematics/Computer Science No Explore None Yes 3/10 Write 5 songs Synthesizer Maybe Explore Maybe teacher? Maybe 0/5 Hit 1/1.5/2 bw in bench/squat/deadlift Exercise Yes Exploit Gym No 3/3
Meal Prep for at least 1 Month
Exercise Yes Exploit Gym/Internet No 0/1 Buy a house Life Yes Explore None No 1/1 Cut down to 180 Life Yes Exploit None No 0/1
Markup Description Completed Goal A goal that has been completed
Sort of completed
A goal whose directive has been met for the most part, but not in a direct way Not completed A goal that has not been completed
- Got 2x body-weight deadlift on
- Got 1.5x bodyweight squat on
- reached 150 hours on. Rewrote the goal to set it to 300.
- officially a homeowner on July 21st!
- I've spent a lot of May / June / July focused on the RPS powerlifting meeting
- I've spent a lot of June / July / August focused on the house
- I've spent March - ? focused on GPT4
How did I do on the prescribed goals?
Spend more time with $PARTNER
I've been sure to spend more time in direct proximity to my partner. My partner is generally not in my home office, so this goal is \(\approx\) to spend less time in my home office. I've done this by bringing out my laptop when I want to complete something requiring a computer, and by generally spending less time on the computer. I'd say that my computer time is probably down ~30% this year overall.
Finish 300 book hrs of Math study
This was great. I had been slowly working through Apostol's Calculus volume 1 for the prior years 2021 - 2022 completing all of the problems at the end of each section. I did:
- chapters 1 - 8 in 2021
- 9 + 10 in 2022
- 11 - 16 + 1 - 6 chapters in Apostol's Calculus volume 2 this year.
This is the best mathematical maturity building book that I've read.
I also read most of Quantitative Risk Management, which was a fun foray into statistics for risk management. I especially enjoyed the Extreme Value Theory chapter.
Hit 1/1.5/2x bw in bench/squat/deadlift
This happened very early in 2023. I set it as my goal when I joined the gym in July of 2022 and was happy to see it happen. As of this writing, I've moved far beyond this. See Powerlifting.
Buy a house
Here in the USA, housing has been all over the place since the pandemic happened. We had initially planned to hold out on the madness in the market, but as interest rates started sharply rising to combat inflation we decided it would be a good time to lock in a slightly lower rate. Regardless of the circumstance, I am very happy with this decision.
Goals sort of completed
Finish 150 book hrs of CS study
I ended up doing some traditional CS study. I revisited and completed The Little Schemer and The Seasoned Schemer. I dug into The Little Learner, but did not complete it. I also dug into continuations with all the resources I could find that were approachable to non-programming language theorists.
Unfortunately, March - September or so was much more focused on learning as much about GPT as I could and using it whenever possible. This lead to a handful of side projects which will never see the light of day, but were a great learning experience.
I consider this goal partially completed as I finished a significant amount of leetcode and rosetta code exercises, likely totaling over 150 hours. These were not broadly considered book hours however. Going forward I intend to use better wording in my goals and to focus my computer science studies on experiential learning.
Finish 50 book hrs of Leisure
I have read a handful of books this year. Unfortunately, I did not track time spent on this. That which is not measured is not counted.
Meal prep for at least 1 month
I never formally meal prepped this year. I have been tracking my macronutrients and calories consistently since ~August though.
Write 10 blog posts
Woops. See Blogging in a post-GPT world
Write 5 songs
For all the hullabaloo in my head about synthesizers, I don't spend nearly enough time playing them, and I am essentially never trying to create a finished product. Most of the time I'm just playing around with knobs and patch cables, hoping to hear some fun experimentation. I have an interface set up this year, so perhaps 2024 will be the year.
Cut down to 180
I started the year cutting down to 191 from ~202. That got shelved in favor of a slow main-gain program. Moving forward, I plan to tailor my diet to support my powerlifting goals, rather than imposing broad, rigid dietary rules on myself.
This year GPT4 was released on $π$-day, March 14th. This was a very exciting development. I was familiar with ChatGPT from the release in late November 2022, but wasn't particularly enthusiastic about it's performance. When GPT-4 was released, it really shook me. Since then, I have used it in some manner almost every single day.
I will go so far as to say that GPT-4 is the most exciting piece of technology I have ever experienced. Now I have 2 favorite pieces of software, emacs and GPT. I can't wait to see it continue to progress and to continue using it.
In September I started using a LLM service called Summit. The service allows you to create a custom life coach with a personality that you set, create some goals, and have the coach text you nightly about progress on your goals.
Under the hood I'm assuming its:
- A vector database of some sort allowing RAG for a given user
- some fancy prompt templates
- a classic typescript web app
I've really enjoyed using it these past few months. As a result, I've seen great progress on the following more tactical goals:
- sleeping >= 8 hours per night
- tracking macronutrients
- starting a mindfulness practice
- listening to new music genres and albums
- drinking less coffee
Blogging in a post-GPT world
GPT-4 is so great at what it does, that it didn't make sense to me to make long-form blogs anymore. Blogs take a while to put together, and are mainly rehashes of other information. GPT-4 does the rehashing for you, very quickly, and can handle any kind of formatting you want.
Consequently, my blogging this year has been essentially non-existent. If blogging does continue, it will probably just be records of explorations into topics with very little ceremony or clean-up. 2024 will see. This may be my last non-enhanced blog post until next year's retrospective.
As it stands now, when I want to learn something I generally just ask GPT instead of reading someone elses blog about it. Blogs are still good for discovery.
Second only to GPT-4, this year was characterized by powerlifting. In July 2022 I signed up for a powerlifting gym with 2 amazing coaches. This is my first full year consistently training 4 days per week.
Throughout this year I have seen my lifts shoot up to the highest they have ever been and my form is better than ever. I even got to celebrate my 1 year anniversary by competing in a powerlifting meet. The meet itself was exhausting, but the idea of it and preparing for it was fun. Definitely more of a type-2 fun though.
This year has felt more exploit than explore . There were some fun explorations though:
- I contributed to the Racket programming language's matrix library and documentation
- My keyboard has gotten a large upgrade with explorations into the
ZMK firmware system. I now have multiple layers of key bindings
which have seen many iterations
- I even used a forked firmware to allow for mouse manipulation through the keyboard which has been amazing
- I made a fairly sophisticated application using typescript / react / firebase / fastapi / mongodb
- I wrote up a good chunk of a DnD campaign
- I threw a fairly large social gathering (~40 people)
2023 has been an action packed year! I am proud of what was achieved. The accounting of items has been very haphazard though. 3 events in particular made my traditional daily todo lists and long term planning lose track for long periods of time:
- GPT-4 being released
- House shopping and moving
- A change in the return to office mandate at $EMPLOYER
Here are some thoughts to shape my goal-setting process for 2024:
- make my personal workflow more permissive
- make logging of items easier, perhaps by syncing with a mobile app
- if still using kanban, focus on smaller chunks
- 10 goals is still too much, focus on less
- Eschew blogging in favor of posting rawer exploratory notebooks 
- figure out how to better connect the 'tactical' usage of summit with longer term goals
- cut down youtube time
- consider getting a coach for things outside of powerlifting