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2023: Year in review

  • Life

Once again, I’m looking back on the year that’s passed. (See: 2020, 2021, 2022)

It seems a little tougher this year — and I won’t say whether it’s because I haven’t been consistently and habitually writing on this site — but I’m always happy to reflect and introspect on what has gone well and what I could’ve done better with.

What went well:

Learning and growth: Last year, one of my goals was to try and figure out whether to take my MBA aspiration more seriously. To that end, one of the hurdles was taking the GMAT. After some on-off studying for half a year, I scored a 645 on the GMAT Focus, which clears that 700 barrier on the classic GMAT.

It’s a score that I’m pleased with (and proud of, considering I hadn’t taken a standardized test for more than half my life at this point), but it is also a score that I think I can improve on if I studied and grinded for a little longer. I haven’t started doing that, but maybe — let’s see where I’m at with applications in Q1 of this year.

Reading: Surprisingly, even with studying taking up all/most of my free time, I still managed to read 25 books in 2023. The last book that I read was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and oh, boy. One of my favorite books is Replay, which deals with a Groundhog Day situation but with an entire life (almost), and Harry August turned that up a notch. I might re-read it now.

Traveling: This was almost a given, given how we’re recovering from the pandemic and figuring out what that looks like with traveling. I’ve not traveled as much as I wanted to as an adult, so I’m happy to get back into this and train this muscle of experiencing other cultures, environments, and weathers.

New hobbies: I’m slowly getting into completely new things, like appreciating matcha (and the art of making a cup), and watches (I got a Seiko Presage in Tokyo, and it’s one of my favorite purchases). On the other hand, I’m also… (Author’s note: I forgot where I was going with this, and left this dangling.)

What could’ve gone better:

Fitness and health: Sigh. With the stress of studying, fitness got wildly deprioritized. Even then, I managed 116 workouts in 2023 — nearly 1 in 3 days, which is a complete shock to me as I spent all of December not working out at all. Definitely something to push on in 2024!

I’ve also spent most of the day in a haze; my asthma coming back the last week of the year.

Finance: I only hit a 59% savings rate. I don’t know — can I partially justify that by saying I didn’t get a raise (not even a salary adjustment to inflation) this year? I don’t regret making the purchases, though.

Work: Ah, something that is a mainstay through the years. It’s a pattern that I don’t like, but it’s not something I can shake easily. In 2023, my corporate life was rocked a little by layoffs and restructuring, and though I kept my job and stepped (the fuck) up to several positions beyond me, it’s been a mostly thankless endeavor and I’ve even got my promotion case denied, so…

I guess I’m evaluating a lot about what work, and this workplace, means to me. There is some cognitive dissonance here with my pursuit of a potential MBA, given the implication of working hard and elevating myself career-wise. But we’ll see.

Themes from my gratitude journal:

  • Space for me to try my best
  • My nephews being happy
  • Being excited about possibilities
  • Time away to travel and think

What I want to do in 2024:

  • Learn to drive and obtain my license
  • Apply for and get admitted to an MBA program
  • Evolve my style beyond Uniqlo and t-shirts
  • Travel even more (this is shaping up quite excitingly with a trip to Germany/Austria in January!)
  • Figuring out my skincare routine

As always, I hope the next 365 days (leap year!) are going to be kind and good to all of us.

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