Year in Review: 2023

12min • 26 December 2023
100% human-written

This post is very different from the typical content I write. While I always try to write long-form deep-dives into certain topics, this one is going to be a purely personal review of the past year. Ever since I started journaling, I found it super useful to look back at past events and experiences and reflect on everything that happened.

It certainly feels weird to write about all the great events, learnings and achievements while there's so much going on in the world including wars, climate catastrophes and economical crisis. Yet, negative things shouldn't hinder optimism, so I want to end the year on a positive note.


Let's start with a rough timeline. The following list is an incomplete collection of my most important trips and events.

  • January 06 - 08: Hosted our very first scouts meeting focused purely on music and musical culture.
  • January 23 - 28: First business trip to Stockholm for Carla. Took the 20 hour night train with my wife and other collegues from Germany, France and Belgium.
  • Mar 09: The recession didn't spare Carla and thus we had our first lay-offs. It was my first time having to let someone go as a manager and it felt just as bad as everyone said before.
  • Mar 17 - 19: Spent three days together with my wife in a remote tree house in France to relax and do some wellness with sauna and hot tub.
  • April 29: Co-hosted the 10 year anniversary party for my high school class meeting many old classmates that I haven't seen in literally a decade.
  • May 06 - 08: Had a business retreat with two friends that resulted in founding a product agency called Rheinstube GbR (new tab).
  • May 17 - 20: Hiked with a scout friend from my local group with whom I've been hiking a lot in the past.
  • June 13: Signed the contracts buying 700+ square meters of land to kick-start the arguably biggest project of my life: my very own house.
  • June 22 - 25: Another scout hike with four friends through my scenic homeland. It was close to 30°C every day and we only used sleeping hammocks for the first time.
  • June 03 - 10: Another vacation in southern France with my wife and two friends.
  • July 23 - 26: Canoeing trip to Spreewald with my wife for her 30th birthday. First time we did that together and definitely not the last time!
  • September 24: Turned 30 and celebrated a full weekend having a costume party with all my friends. Was also the day I stopped smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • October 18 - 22: Yet another trip to a remote cabin in France. This time having my very first think week.
  • December 14 - 18: Final business trip to Strasbourg with Carla collegues.
  • December 20 - 21: Played two great Christmas concerts with my orchestra for which we've practiced quite a lot.
  • December 28: After almost 10 years with irritable bowel syndrome and constant reflux and stomach issues, I was finally diagnosed with SIBO. Treatment starting in January.


Secondly, I want to reflect on all the achievements I accomplished this year. I managed to achieve more than 90% of the goals I've set for this year. Here're the most important ones from categories such as health, relationship, career, education and personal development:

  • Established a daily journaling and meditation routine
  • Established a consistent workout routine for the first time since my aneurysm diagnosis
  • Increased my calculated VO2max from 43 to 49
  • Lost 6 kilograms of weight while maintaining muscle mass
  • Started therapy to tackle my remaining anxiety and mental issues
  • Passed the first two exams for my philosophy bachelor
  • Played one of my self-written scout songs in public for the first time
  • Read 18 books on a vast spectrum of topics (more than any other year)
  • Published six articles on this very blog (twice as much as any other year)
  • Shared 33 learnings in my new learnings section
  • Established in-depth 360° review meetings for all of my team members
  • Went on over 20 planned dates with my wife
  • Started learning traditional dances, especially enjoying Tango
  • Completed 20 French sections in Duolingo currently on a 179 day streak
  • Worked through Francois Rabbath (new tab)'s first textbook on new double bass techniques
  • Launched a free breathing app (new tab) after reading Breath (new tab) by James Nestor (new tab)
  • Launched a small Kegel training app (new tab) that helps strengthen your pelvic floor muscles

Learnings & Insights

As stated above, I shared a total of 33 learnings on my website.
Besides those, I have several hundreds of entries in my journal. Out of all those learnings, I want to share my five most important reflections for this year that really changed my life:

  1. People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
    This is something Simon Sinek (new tab) repeatedly said in his book Start With Why (new tab). It goes back to his concept of the "Golden Circle" that describes the way leaders and organisations communicate in 3 layers: what, how and why. While most companies focus on the what, those who share their why - their purpose - really resonate with us. Essentially, he suggests that people are more drawn to the intention and values behind a product or service than to the product or service itself.

    Check his TED talk (new tab) for a quick intro to the idea.

  2. Human-level intelligence is inevitable and it will change the world.
    I haven't really been interested in artificial intelligence up until recently when I used it to explore new topics and brainstorm ideas for new projects. Actually, I've always had ethical issues with generative tools that obliterate human creativity. Anyways. I got excited and dove deeper listening to hours of podcast episodes. After some dark days with doom scenarios I eventually found Carl Shulman (new tab) and Joscha Bach (new tab).
    Today I'm pretty convinced that a true intelligence explosion is about to happen and that it'll change the world faster than anything before in human history. No one knows how it will look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years, but it's definitely going to be both exciting and scary at the same time.
  3. Relationships require constant work from both parties in order to flourish.
    We often take things for granted and only really realise how important they are once we almost loose them. This is especially true for relationships. Imagine what would happen, if we'd put as much effort into our relationships than we put in our jobs and careers.
  4. Processed and starchy carbohydrates are just as bad as added sugars.
    I've had tons of learnings regarding health, nutrition and diet this year. From optimising your blood sugar response to ideal protein intake and the difference between conventional and organic food. The one that really stood out for me was the fact that all the processed and starchy carbohydrates we eat these days are essentially in the same category as added sugars. All the bread, pasta and potatoe dishes should not account for a huge percentage of your daily calories.
  5. My biological age is already at 37.
    Not necessarily a very positive learning, but definitely the most eye-opening one for sure. I always thought I'm doing great eating a healthy diet and being physically active almost every day. Never did I think that this was just the base level requirements. I realised that I drank way too much alcohol which also always eventually resulted in smoking cigarettes.
    On the positive side, it made me reconsider my health decisions and lead to healthy lifestyle changes including a more diverse workout schedule, overall fitness and better sleep.

Fails, Mistakes & Regrets

Everyone makes mistakes and everyone fails once in a while. It's easy to share all the good stuff and get praise for it, but it's much harder to admit the mistakes and share them publicly. But, instead of hiding it, we should embrace it and learn from it!

  1. I didn't keep track of my earnings and failed to estimate the total amount of outstanding taxes that I still had to pay for the last three years. Eventually had to pay almost 40.000 € which I hadn't really planned for - especially not all at once.
  2. Due to these taxes, I had to sell some assets including almost 20.000 € in cryptos. In the end, the payments have been scheduled for December instead of September which would have allowed me to keep them a little longer. In that time alone, their price increased by 40% which theoretically made me "loose" 8.000 €.
  3. In September, I cancel my business trip to Stockholm as I was feeling uncomfortable and feared getting sick. I happened to be fit again just two days later and essentially missed one of the rare opportunities to meet all my friends and collegues at work.
  4. Last but not least, due to everything going on in life, all the projects and all the hard work and focus, my wife and I both didn't really pay attention to each other and our relationship. Not only did we risk our marriage, we also missed out on so many great opportunities together. Luckily, we managed to turn it around making it one of the best years together!

Top 3s

I love rankings! Instead of sharing full lists of all my favorite things these year, I thought why not just share my top 3s in each category.

What are other interesting categories? Reach out and share them with me!

This year, I read mostly non-fiction books on health and longevity following my personal effective reading framework. Yet, the one fiction book that really stood out for me was The House In The Cerulean Sea. My wife read it for me and the whole story is just heartwarming and lovely.
Follow-ups are Why We Sleep (new tab), How Not To Die (new tab) and Still The Mind (new tab).

Check my Goodreads profile (new tab) for a full reading list!

I'm not really big into movies nor series, but I've seen a few throughout the year. Sex Education (new tab) has been a long-time favorite while Lessons in Chemistry (new tab) surprised me. Apart from that I mostly watch anime such as Demon Slayer (new tab) or enjoy documentaries.

Surprisingly enough, these also are my top 3 artists for this year with almost 50% of my top songs alone. Also, all of them speak German!
Besides those, I regularly visit classic symphonic orchestras as my true heart beats for classical music.

Year in Numbers

To finish it off, here are some random numbers and facts for this year. The first three are derived from my daily journal and are measured on a 1-5 scale. Everything else is a mix of health data, memory recall and or other data points form services I use.

3.55 / 5
Average Mood
3.59 / 5
Average Energy Level
3.75 / 5
Average Daily Rating
Average Daily Steps
620 kcal
Average Active Calories
2.774 km
Distance Walked*
6 kg
Weight Lost
Average Sleeping Hours
Nights Slept Outdoors
2 / 2
Exams Passed
Dates Planned
Concerts Played
Concerts Visisted
Books Read
Audiobooks Finished
Books Bought
Vinyls Bought
Clothes Bought**
Scout Events
187.5 h
Hours in Scout Calls
23.520 €
Charity Money Raised
Articles Published
Learnings Shared
Book Pages Written
Projects Finished
Apps Bootstrapped
Apps Launched
Sick Days
Vacation Days
Trips to France
Business Trips
French Words Learned
New Cooking Recipes
~11 kg
Nuts Eaten

*walking and running combined

**including underwear, socks and basics


A ton of exciting stuff happened this year and I really achieved a lot of things.
I learned more than ever and really transformed my lifestyle and routines for the better. I want to thank everyone who inspired me and supported me on my journey. I clearly couldn't have done it all by myself!
I cannot wait to share everything that I have planned for the upcoming year. Stay tuned!

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Thanks for reading!

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