Here I am again. This time I’m trying to make a pre-emptive attempt at getting this blog post done in time after last year’s snafu. This is the forth annual birthday-related blog posts where I reflect on how the year went, what I got out of it, and what my hopes are for the next year. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything voluntarily for this long, so it’s pretty awesome to see how this has evolved over the years. I mentioned last year that I had spent a few months thinking about what I would eventually write in the next reflective post, and this year was no different. I think the first time I brought it up was 3 months ago. That’s how big of a deal these posts have become for me. There’s still no defined structure for these, they’re more stream-of-consciousness than anything else. Hopefully a structure would evolve naturally over time. I don’t know. Maybe. Anyway, enough blabbering, onto it.
So. How did the year go? Pretty damn well! I remember last year wondering how 2013 could possibly be better than 2012. I had thought about it in the context of work, since work was going really well, and I entered 2013 with quite a bit of anxiety toward it. But you can’t really predict what’ll happen, what’ll matter, who you’ll meet, and what you’ll do.
A Fulfilled Resolution
I can’t quite believe that I actually followed through on a resolution! Last year, I wrote about my resolution to spend more time, energy, and money on experiences rather than possessions, and what will follow will hopefully demonstrate that. Whereas the years following my college graduation centered around work and my career, 2013 was a focus on enjoying my newfound health, my youth, my geography, and my friends.
When I think back to 2013, I see a blur of moments spent with friends traveling eastward to the Sierras, up to Marin, down to LA, on bikes, motorcycle, in cars and plains, on surfboards and photo walks. All the accomplishments of the year professionally pale in the comparison when put through the lens of hindsight.
My first skiing trip ever! My new year resolution to spend money on experiences was off to a good start. I’d go back to Tahoe for 4 more trips that year, having found out that I both loved skiing for its thrill and the mountain, and loathe it for the vertigo it gives me high up on the steep slopes. Skiing was a really big deal for me though, it fit into a narrative that would play out through the whole year, one of discovering the outdoors and increasingly identifying myself with them.
Meanwhile, as all this is happening, I ask Maddie if she wants to have Dim Sum one day, she says yes, and just like that, 2013 went from good to greatest.
At this point, cycling is an integral part of my life. Last year I wrote about how much cycling I did in 2012, and I did twice that in 2013. It was awesome. I was hitting performance levels I never dreamed of a year before. The Summer of 2013 will long be remembered not just because of what I did or rode, but also for the amazing community that Facebook Cycling fostered around it.
We rode down to work, up to Marin, down to LA, over in Yosemite, Tahoe, Santa Rosa, Montana, Wyoming, around LA. Through it all, I’ve come to see California as a home more than I’ve ever seen any other place I’ve lived. Every time I leave, I feel the draw of California tugging me back into the mountains.
What was a place of vistas became a place of peace. Where I once hid away from nature, I began to find myself seeking it. Every friday night, when we would go on a trip to the mountains, I would physically feel my stress, thoughts, concerns, and anxiety melt away with every mile crossed. A mountain top now represents all the challenges I’ve gone through in life and eventually overcoming them.
I’d always hear athletes talk about the effects of their sports on their personal lives, and I always dismissed it. Over the past couple of years, I’ve come to understand what they’re talking about. I remember two rides more clearly than any other rides. The first one represented a disappointment. A disappointment that I would remember whenever I was facing a challenge, on the saddle or not. I was trying to from Muir Beach to Stinson Beach and back to SF. I’d never done that ride before, and didn’t know what was ahead of me. At some point, I gave up, turned around, and headed back home. When I got home, I looked at the map, and realized I had covered most of the way and I would’ve been able to finish the ride had I followed through. That disappointment cut deep for me, and I still remember it today. Another was when I almost gave up going up an unexpected hill for the first time. I tried convincing myself to quite multiple times, and I almost did, until I made it to the top. I’d never felt better about anything before. It sealed in my head the high of accomplishment. Up until then, I would get close to finishing something, just far enough to convince myself that I can finish it if I wanted to, not knowing that that last 2% is what really matter, it’s what separates the dreamers from the doers.
The diet continued into its 3rd year. Now the goals are a bit different though: I want to get to 170lbs and stay there. I want to find a lifestyle that can help me maintain and not feel like I’m in a constant struggle trying to hold on to a number. This is how I did:
Here’s what’s interesting about these two graphs: Since they cover the same span, they mostly line up. You can see the correlation between my activity level between january and June, and my weight. I think part of what happened there was that I was riding very actively, and some of the weight gain is most definitely related to a gain of muscle. However, I think my body got very efficient at the form of exercise I was putting it through and I was using all this exercising as a way to justify eating whatever I want. I tried fixing that after Aids/LifeCycle (The peak of the graph), and it mostly worked. You’ll also notice around July a drop. That’s when I went low-carb. I cut out rice, bread, and pasta. I cut down on processed foods, and my diet started looking a lot like this:
Overall, the diet has been fairly successful at stabilizing my weight. I’ve actually never been this stable. However, it’s stabilizing about 8 pounds above where I want it to stabilize. Hoping that as I re-introduce exercise into the diet, it’ll stabilize in a better place.
I discovered what a vacation was this year. Up until AIDS/LifeCycle in June, I hadn’t taken a real vacation…ever. Since that one, I’ve gone on 2 others, and I haven’t spent 3 weekends in a row in San Francisco. These vacations have kept me grounded and stable, have widened the range of my experiences, and are my most cherished memories from this year.
I guess if you want to draw any conclusions about how this year went, consider that every “Reflexions on my..” post has been almost only about work, and in this one, I decided to put it last. I got to launch some awesome products this year, which was cool. I got to increase my internal multiplier, which was also cool since that’s what my goal had been. I transitioned to Instagram half-way through the year and have found the team to be profoundly brilliant. Love these guys.
I don’t know what to say about work. I’ve had about 15 epiphanies when it comes to product development, cultural development, how to ship software, how to run meetings, how to sell my ideas, how to plan ahead, etc etc. Each of those topics deserves its own blog post.
I think back now, half-way through December, to who I was at the end of last year, who I am now, and I can see the profound way that my experience at Facebook and later Instagram has helped me grow. That’s my leading and trailing indicator of the worth of the place I’m working, and it’s all thanks to the people I’m working with, the collection of people Facebook draws to it, and the open culture that allows for the free-flowing of ideas across such a diverse and smart employee-base.
I have some hard questions to answer to myself about the trajectory of where I’m going and the things I want to do. I’m not ready to talk about it now since these thoughts are still unformed in my head. They’ll get their own posts when their time comes.
2013 has been a great year. I’ve lived life like I haven’t lived ever before. I’m thankful for all the people who are a part of my life, I love each and every one of you guys.