2022 – A year of coming to terms with mediocrity

This is an issue of my newsletter focusing on the psychological and technical aspects of the Internet, particularly remote work, online economy, and cognitive load.
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I have pretty simple ambitions.

I like to look at mountains, spend time outside, swim in the lakes, go on bike rides, and enjoy good food, all preferably with friends and family. Professionally, I love building cool things that other people enjoy and giving them tools to achieve more than they thought possible. I like to tinker and connect things that were not connected before.

I hate doing things that make no sense, so I try to be deliberate about my approach. I read books, listen to expert podcasts, and get inspired by other people’s stories.

And that is the tricky part. Popular books, podcasts, and materials are about achieving the absolute best of human performance, getting to the very top, and winning. But I don’t want to win – I want the most awesome average life possible. It’s pretty tricky to learn from the best without comparing ourselves to them and without normalizing a success cult lifestyle.

I think I have figured out how to walk that line in 2022. While I previously had no grandiose ambition, I felt guilty for not striving to do more – to build a startup or a company, at least. But no, the life of a Remote employee in a big company is pretty great, even if it’s not the absolute top. My wife has phrased it all more eloquently (and you should subscribe to her substack):

The End Goal of the Hero’s Journey Is to Become a Normie

So how was my 2022?

War & peace

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was kind of a big deal in Poland. Of course, any war is devastating, and this one is needlessly brutal, but on top of that – this wasn’t supposed to happen in the 21st century. We were at the end of history, but one of our old-but-now-supposedly-reformed-and-civilized-oppressors attacked our neighbor, 500 km from where I live.

I started the year with a goal of publishing 50 posts in 2022, but after that invasion, I felt no point in sharing productivity tips or advice. I also dramatically cut down on my reading as my priorities shifted.

Regardless of how much we helped, it felt so very little compared to the needs of victims and the sacrifice of others. My dear friend (a father of 2) was constantly on the road, driving an ambulance from the warzone, transporting sick Ukrainian children to Polish hospitals. I cannot express how much respect I have for him.

Even if the war continues, life does as well.


Parenting is a very humbling and grounding experience. You may think you have everything figured out and dialed in, but your baby is there to remind you of the everyday struggles of the majority of humanity. For example -we haven’t been able to figure out a foolproof method of putting our daughter to sleep, and every night is a negotiation.

One big success is her daycare. She made a few friends who she misses when we are traveling. My wife and I like to complain about the downsides of the public education system, and at the same time, our daughter loves the institution, and we have more time for ourselves when she is there.

As I said, a humbling experience.

And yet, when your child is in a good mood, there is nothing more rewarding than parenting. I am constantly surprised that my daughter is such a wonderful human being. I am sure many parents believe the same about their children.

My job

2022 was tough at work. Just as my team successfully launched a very complicated, demanding, and supposedly strategically important project for Tumblr (I wrote more here), we were moved to another place within the organization where that wasn’t important.

I spent almost the entire year trying to align multiple business units around different approaches to synergy. Still, ultimately none of them were accepted, and I felt like I had accomplished nothing and paid a lot to do so. I fell through the cracks in the corporate machine, and it was the first time I genuinely felt the downsides of working inside a big organization. As I am reading Tony Fadell’s book “Build”, his experience with Nest after being acquired by Google feels eerily similar despite the massive difference in scale. Fortunately, I found a way out.

One of the perks I get at work is professional coaching. Out of all things, my new coach has challenged me to rely on permissions less. No one who knows me has ever said this, so I decided to take it at face value and run with it.

As of 2023, I am giving up on leading the strategic synergy and am focusing on improving the lives of creators on WordPress.com and returning to my role of WordPress.com Earn Product Manager. And I launched our AI product offering by accident. Stay tuned for updates on that front.

Memorable experiences

Our RV continues to be a gift that keeps on giving, and RVing around Alps does not get boring. Some of the fantastic places we’ve seen this year include my bucketlist items:

  • Hiking to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence.
  • Hiking between Cinque Terre villages
  • Seeing the inside of the Neuschwanstein castle
  • Swimming to the island of Lake Bled
  • Seeing the castle in Marseille where the Count of Monte Cristo was imprisoned

One thing that brought me a lot of joy is biking with my daughter. So I am looking into buying a trailer for her.

Goals for 2023

My theme for 2022 was “Leisure,” and I don’t think I am satisfied with how it turned out. The demands of everyday life, the stresses of work, parenting, and marriage have encroached on my Leisurely ambitions. This is what happens if you don’t have a plan.

In 2023, I want to put more ambition behind my leisure, as contradictory as it sounds. I want to have concrete goals with concrete leisurely payoffs:

  • I want more swimming in the lakes and more bike rides in 2023. Preferably with friends.
  • I want to get a driver’s license for trucks so that I can look into really fancy RVs.
  • I want to learn how to eFoil because it looks like my kind of fun
  • I want to take a stab at getting a pilot license so I can figure out if this is my kind of fun
  • I need to train my dog to become calmer so we can all relax
  • I need to take my fitness more seriously so I can feel healthier doing all the leisurely stuff I want to do. My provisional goal is to lose 10 kg.
  • We need to teach our baby how to sleep and play alone because that is a major stressor in our family life.
  • I want to take a stab at learning Italian because we know we’ll end up RVing in Italy anyway.

How was your 2022? Any new goals?

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1 Comment

  1. A. I. Sajib says:

    I gave up on creating lists and passing them off as resolutions because I could rarely achieve (do you “achieve” resolutions?) them. Somehow, your list of goals inspired me to make new resolutions again, albeit delayed. It was also a surprisingly easy read. Here’s to 2023!

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