2012 is coming to an end and it’s been an interesting year for me. I spent most of the time in California where I’ve been working for SAP Labs in Palo Alto. I discovered a great culture, made awesome new friends, and learned quite a few things about myself. Recapitulating the past 12 months, I’ve come up with a few habits that I think would be worth hanging on to in 2013.
This year, I haven’t been very active when it comes to blogging. Although I’ve experienced so many new technologies/languages/people, I kept everything I learned from that to myself. As a software engineer, I gain most of my knowledge by reading stuff on the internet, mostly blog posts or articles in online magazines. Hacker News is my daily news paper – I read it every morning to know what’s going on in the tech world. It provides me with countless interesting blog posts where people share their experiences with the world, and I feel a little guilty for not giving anything back to the community. Every problem I solve, every neat little library I discover, every Idea I come up with is worth sharing. For now, one blog post a month will be my goal for next year.
In the beginning of 2012, I moved in with a couple of friends that I made in California. Shortly after that, I rushed into a relationship with a friend of one of my roommates, which didn’t work out that well. During that time, a side of me surfaced that I never even knew existed. I went through a time of deep depression, which affected most aspects of my personal life. I said horrible things to people I care about and freaked out about the smallest issues. After a lot of thinking, talking (thank you everyone who had to listen to my emotional bullshit) and overreacting, I finally found something that would help me pulling myself together: Meditation. I know, it sounds strange at first, but the more you read about it, the more you realize that meditation is something anyone can (and should) do. 8 Minute Meditation helped me understanding what Meditation is all about: A quiet mind. It is amazing how just 10 minutes of meditation everyday can have such a big impact on your personality. My ability to focus, the way I treated my friends, in general everything about myself improved over time. Small things that made me angry or sad before didn’t affect me at all anymore – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I can highly recommend everyone to try it. Don’t know how to start? There are tons of great blog posts on the internet that talk about the benefits of meditation, read about it, try it out, it will change your life. Next year, I will try to be more consistent about it. 10 minutes daily and one longer session at least once a week are definitely doable and already enough to keep up a healthy level of mindfulness.
During my time in California, I had the time and the financial resources to travel a lot. Never before have I seen so many different places in such a short amount of time. Not only did I have a lot of fun, but I also learned a lot about the places I’ve been to and met many interesting people from all over the world. Now that I’m back in Berlin, everything is fairly close by compared to America. Most major cities are reachable by train or car, and if I stay at a hostel, I can afford a couple of trips a year – even as a student. Although only one trip (to Warsaw, Poland) is planned so far, I hope to see many more places around Europe. Possible destinations are for example Bruge, London, Hamburg, Munich, Madrid, Paris, or Barcelona. I’d also love to do a backpacking trip through Norway. I’ve been there a couple of times before, but I never got to experience the true beauty of its wilderness.
Despite those three main points on my agenda, I really want to find more ways to meet a lot of new people, especially international people. Thinking back, I have to say that socializing was the catalyst to all those changes in my life back in 2012. It is incredible how much you can learn from just talking to strangers. Besides the fact that it is always interesting, you get the chance to exchange ideas, get job offers, visit places you’ve never even heard of, or find new friends. For example, attending meetups is the perfect opportunity. You get together with people that you have similar interests with, listen to interesting talks, and most times you even get free food and drinks :). If you’re travelling, stay at a hostel! There is no easier way to meet awesome people than just having a beer in a hostel’s community area. Everyone is in the same situation – they’re new in town and looking for cool things to do!
Of course it is always easy to talk about new year’s resolutions (“I’m totally gonna quit smoking”) and I’m probably not going to show as much power of endurance as I’d like to, but I think even if I just manage to achieve half of what I just wrote by the end of 2013, my life will be going into the right direction.
That said, good luck everyone with your own new years resolutions. Happy 2013!