It's natural and customary to look back on the year when the new one comes around. I'm always fascinated by how the media portray negatively every year. There's no doubt that horrible things are happening in the world. But an ordinary individual has little influence on it, and focusing too much on negative news convinces us that our year was negative as well. When we focus on ourselves, make a reflection and ignore some of the noise, we can very well find out that it wasn't all that bad after all!

It's completely understandable that some years are filled with negativity, and we can hardly find anything positive in them. After all, there can be career setbacks, financial difficulties, and horrible ones like war and death. In some of those cases, a reflection can help us come to peace with it and plan what to change in the future. It is, however, wrongly to assume that everyone's year is bad just because bad things are happening in the world.

My 2023 was quite awesome, and I'm 99% satisfied with it. Here are a few highlights:

  • Finished my Erasmus exchange in Heidelberg. Life-changing in so many different ways (see these posts).
  • Visited Valencia for the first time. It makes me want to visit Spain and Portugal. There's so much to uncover there - Bilbao, Seville, Alicante, Madrid, Lisbon, Porto, name a few.
  • Finished 5th year of medical school in June. One more to go.
  • Successfully completed a surgical clerkship in Austria. The best decision I made this year, another life-changing experience.
  • Had a blast during the Summer. Made new friends, strengthened the bond with old ones, spent a lot of time at the seaside and visited London again. I hope for a repeat in 2024.
  • Made very good progress with developing Ghost themes. Released the theme that's also my website, but there's still room to grow.
  • Read a number of interesting books. The author I discovered this year is Ryan Holiday. Ego Is the Enemy and The Obstacle Is the Way are just brilliant.

Then there's the 1%. It's helpful to be critical, but not too much. Here's what I didn't like:

  • Not enough time away from screens. An issue during study-heavy periods and while working on different projects, which is justifiable. Social media, not so much. I'd like to be more intentional about it in 2024.
  • Too much social media. Too much time on X and Instagram in the last few months. I'm seriously thinking of deleting at least Instagram.
  • I could exercise more. I wasn't very consistent and was usually interrupted during intense periods in medical school. However, a lot of Zone 2 running in the Autumn significantly improved my VO2max and thus cardiovascular health.

The goal is to correct or improve what I didn't like in 2023. But enough self-criticism, here’s what I wish for myself in 2024.

First and foremost, I want to finish medical school as soon as possible, which seems to be early July, and then have a wonderful Summer. Afterwards, in October through December, I'm looking forward to successfully finishing another surgical clerkship in Austria.

Secondly, my goal is to write more and this blog post is a start. I have a few ideas, but we'll see where it takes me. One reason is that I miss it. The second one is a suggestion for doctors from the surgeon Atul Gawande in his book Better:

Write something. I do not mean this to be an intimidating suggestion. It makes no difference whether you write five paragraphs for a blog, a paper for a professional journal, or a poem for a reading group. Just write. What you write need not achieve perfection. It need only add some small observation about your world.

Thirdly, I want to extend my knowledge of web development. Although there's room to grow, I'm getting a hang of Ghost nicely. One other interesting aspect of web development are online shops, which is why I will start one myself. Primarily to learn how a complex systems like e-commerce work.

Last but not least, there are smaller activities or wishes that I either didn't do enough in 2023 or haven't done in a longer time:

  • Restart playing the saxophone again. That's been on hold for 4-5 years now.
  • Windsurf in the Summer. And maybe this time actually find a location that's windier.
  • Learn another language. Italian is my current Duolingo course because of Slovenia's proximity to it.
  • Travel in Europe or beyond. Valencia and London were great, and I'm open to a lot more.

Fun times ahead indeed! If I draw a line, I want a year full of learning, creating and experience, but fewer distractions. I'm optimistic.