Sabbatical notes

lifequarterly review

People tell me I can't do all the things I want to do, and they are of course wrong, because I can and I do and I will. But I still can't ever reach my greatest, deepest, most secret goal, the goal I left off that list: to have a singular passion. Maybe that's ok. Maybe my life will always be about running toward that unattainable goal, trying and loving everything I find along the way. And maybe at the end, when I have to give an account of my life, I'll say that I never was anything, but I was everything. - Susan Rigetti (opens in a new tab)

I haven't written personal updates in awhile, so this'll be my best attempt at putting pen to paper on what I've been up to.

Last year felt reactive in many ways. I said yes to too much, and didn't prioritize well for myself or my romantic relationship. I burnt out, socially and professionally. Had some health warning signs too.

Looking at my list of goals from last year, I laughibly missed the mark on almost all of them. I spent most of my non-work time socializing, and worked on my job and contracts more than expected.

To be more specific:

Regardless, it was a fruitful year filled with memorable moments with friends, family and colleagues. And I'm particularly grateful for the work experiences. I built the confidence to lead small teams and discovered that I enjoy it, and learned the ingredients necessary for me to make freelancer contracts succeed: self-contained projects with minimal business-specific context within a niche, that ideally I can lead teams on. Otherwise, what I don't want is to have to solve a variety of different novel problems for every client myself which is mentally taxing compared to selling particulars like AI observability, landing pages, or API integrations. I want to go in-depth and develop specific expertise that I can sell and perform well on.

I also transitioned away from working at my full-time job. Honing in on my ikigai (opens in a new tab). I'm prepared for the interim sacrifices necessary to that end, eg status, income, in order to strive towards a deeply fulfilling destiny.


Back to today, 2024 has started off amazingly.

I've been on sabbatical for the past two months (starting just before the new year) and only now feel like I've deprogrammed, learning to let go, slow down and be present. Not having fires or a schedule to worry about is amazing - my childlike curiosity is back, and I'm beyond excited about the now with all there is to build with e.g. AI, ✦spatial computing (opens in a new tab)✦, without external pressures. I'm hyped about life and my existence.

I've re-cultivated my reading habit, I'm learning some Korean before I go spend a few weeks in Korea, and overall just leaning in to what each moment has to offer wherever I am.

It helps that I've been on the trip of a lifetime with my partner to Oceania and Asia. Neither one of us is working at the moment, so we've been completely present this past month+ to savor it.

I'm extraordinarily lucky to be in this position, but I have also worked deliberately to get to this point:

As far as 2024 goals, I only have one: to publish 12 articles here. I've updated the accountability header on the home page to better reflect that too.

It feels unnessary to try and predict what this year will look like. All I know at the moment is that I want to keep writing about where my head is at and what I'm learning or building. Outside of my career (namely health, relationships, hobbies), I'm pleased with how things are already going.

Coming up

I expect to complete my sabbatical end of Q1, but I won't be immediately returning to full-time work. Just part-time arrangements if there's a fit. Will re-assess in 2025.

This year reminds me of my late college era. During that time, I decided that I would:

2024 feels like it'll rhyme - it's the beginning of another drastic set of career/life trajectory changes that I'm amped about particularly given all of the novel and useful tech being released. I don't want to just be a web/mobile/game developer, I want to create useful things. Especially while we're on the groundfloor of entirely new computing paradigms.

I trust myself not to get lost along the way because I'm an intrinsically motivated workaholic that is fortunately learning to share what I do as I do it too.

For now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my sabbatical while on these travels and will prepare for monk mode involving a lot of saying no when I return to make space for energizing work. I'm currently watching WWDC Apple Vision Pro videos (opens in a new tab) and imagining possibilities for language learning, which is something I'm passionate about.

Lastly, I've also been taking a crack at my information addiction (opens in a new tab), but that's another post. For now: I realized that the person I was had grown increasingly incongruent from the person I visualized. Shame and anxiety were frequent, overwhelming signals. Happy to report that I've been putting the phone down more often since internalizing why it's important that I do. Hardest part is starting, afterwards I just have to remember and reinvigorate the commitment I made to myself while not beating myself up too much if I slip in some areas. I think the other key long-term fix here is also to schedule lots of activities with people I love, and to work on fulfilling problems.

Anyway, I write these personal essays primarily for myself at the moment but if you get something out of these and/or would like to see additional detail, I'd love to hear from you on X (formerly Twitter) (opens in a new tab) or LinkedIn (opens in a new tab).

* The photos above were taken by me.

Last Updated: Tue Feb 20 2024



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