Alexey Shmalko’s blog

2019: Year in Review

December 31, 2019

The year 2019 turned out to be extremely fruitful—especially on changes. If someone told me a year ago that I would be a vegetarian, sleeping good 8 hours, and trying to live a slower life, I would not believe him.

Unemployment

In September 2018, I left my job to build a startup, so at the start of 2019, I was still unemployed working on that product. I quit the startup at the end of the Spring, and started on a new job in September 2019.

I was funemployed for a full year, receiving zero income, and burned through most of my cash. (Would do that again if I could :D)

I believe that having this year off gave me the time to slow down and reflect.

Life Purpose

The reason I left the startup is that I felt I am not enjoying it anymore. Besides the fact that we committed every startup mistake possible, and I felt like we have virtually zero chances for success, it felt inauthentic to me. It’s like… not the difference that I would like to make in the world.

Ready to hear my life purpose? I want to make programming better. (I know it’s broad.)

For the last six months, I’ve been working on the idea of projectional/structural code editors. I don’t have anything worthy to show off yet, but hey, I’m here for the long run.

That said, I still have my day job, but it’s more of a background thing now—my main effort goes into code editors.

Programming

By the way, 2019 is my anniversary year: I’ve been programming for 10 years now.

Reading

I’ve read 37 books, re-read one, abandoned a couple, and three more are in progress.

(Well, I didn’t know I’ve read that much. I think that’s the slight edge in action.)

I’ve started ordering paper books from Amazon. (It’s hard to get English books in Ukraine otherwise, and Amazon isn’t exactly convenient here.) It is more pricey, but who cares.

I still read ebooks, but paper ones are better sometimes:

  • Better imagery. If a book is high on visuals, it might be hard to read on Kindle. This is especially important for design books.
  • You can share paper books. I love sharing books, and you can’t do that with ebooks.

The things I would like to do in 2020: try more audiobooks and maybe buy a bookshelf :)

Meditation and Consciousness

I have started meditating on September–October 2018. These were light 5–10 minutes guided meditations from Simple Habit, Headspace, and some more apps. It didn’t stick, though.

I have re-started the meditation habit on December 24, 2018, in a more hardcore way: unguided (that is, in silence) meditations for 20–40 minutes following The Mind Illuminated. I’ve skipped only 11 days this year, and my current streak is 239 consecutive days.

That said, meditation is only a part of the more massive effort on increasing consciousness, but it’s foundational.

The benefits from the whole effort so far:

  • I am better at identifying and handling emotions. A year ago, I would say that I am not an emotional person. I am. (Everyone is.)
  • Less bullshitting to myself and others. I’ve uncovered some ways I’ve been self-deceiving myself and pretended I am the person I am not. I am also better at detecting masks and hats I wear and stripping that off. I burned my 2019 year plan because it was completely off now.
  • I handle loneliness better, and I can be alone for long periods. Not that I am hiding and avoiding social contact, I am just less needy: I don’t feel like I need to talk to somebody all the time. It’s freeing.

Sleep

I’ve changed my relationship to sleep from “sleep is for the weak” to “sleep is essential for high productivity and creativity.”

I try to keep my sleep free-running: without an alarm clock.

I also learned that I actually love working in the morning. That was quite a surprise for me as I was a night owl. Mornings are just soo much better when you wake up naturally and don’t have to rush.

Exercise

I exercise 2–4 times a week. Two regular gym days, two Muay Thai ones.

I’ve been skipping Muay Thai a lot, though, and would like to be more consistent here.

Diet

I have cleaned up my diet. I stopped eating junk food, started cooking more. I started eating more fruits and vegetables. Eventually, I stopped eating meat.

Though, I’m still working on adjusting my diet and learning more about food.

Sustainability

I am learning more about ecology and sustainable living, producing less waste, using less plastic, etc.

2020

I am working on a prototype of a projectional editor, and I hope I will have something to show in 2020.

I hope I’ll have a couple of people to join my effort as I feel a little underpowered. Building software together is also more fun!

Other than that, I would like to continue my work on consciousness as it is such a high yield area and keeps on giving.

P.S. I would like to thank my girlfriend, who catalyzed my metamorphosis and also changed quite a bit.