Reflection: 2022

Whew, 2022! What a turbulent year. I’ve been through so many highs and lows in the past 12 months, possibly more than any recent years that I can remember.

I’m not gonna talk about how many 2022 resolutions that I achieved. In fact, I didn’t even have a clearly written resolutions at the beginning of this year for 3 reasons:

  1. Currently, I only have 2 non-negotiable goals in my life
  2. Both of my non-negotiable goals” requires multi-year consistency
  3. Also, I just love surprise 😉

I’m more interested in observing how I grew personally this year. Many events that seemed like a “loss” at the time actually forced me out of my comfort zone, and I came out of it stronger and wiser. One step back, two steps forward.

I believe that sharing those learnings will be much more valuable to you, the readers, than just sharing my “victories”.

Losing my job

This one hit me hard. I lost my job due to tech bubble burst, long before the recent mass layoff waves we’ve been seeing in most unicorn companies in Southeast Asia. As a young professional, it wasn’t easy to lose job that jumpstarted my career.

At one point, I had a brief moment of identity-crisis. At the time, I felt like a part of “my identity” was me playing an important role in that company. To have that stripped away from me in 1 day was brutal.

The next problem appeared: my financial habit. In my last job, I earned a very good salary. It was way more than enough to live comfortably in Jakarta (yes I lived in my parents’ house, but I still paid the electricity bill + our ART salary).

However, this condition was also a double-edged sword. Due to this comfort zone that I lived in, I had no sense of urgency to develop a healthy financial habit. After all, why should I? (Or at least that’s what I thought).

I didn’t plan. I didn’t have a monthly budget. I didn’t track my expense. I still managed to get away with it thanks to my income, but it was far from optimum.

To summarize, losing my job exacerbated 2 major problems that I had:

  1. My career growth was over-dependent on where I worked. It’s true that no individual skill can overcome a bad company, but I realized I had no mental model to replicate that success in other companies.
  2. I hadn’t developed a healthy financial habit. It wasn’t that I had always assumed this condition would stay that way forever. It was just I didn’t think things would change that soon. When it did, I was unprepared.

Add those to the fact that I also had to find another job so I could still pay my bills. Pressure intensified.

Here’s where I’m supposed to quote a motivational quote before I start my comeback story, and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.

“Pressure creates diamonds.”

– Whoever posted this first on Pinterest

Being a bit less dependent on where I work, and more on my skill

The goal is simple: How can I increase my chance of success in growth-related role, regardless of where I work?

There can be multiple answers to that depending on the situation and the timing, but for this year, the answer is relatively simple: just be better at growth.

If I’m able to deeply understand growth from a fundamental perspective and not just from a tactical perspective, I’d be able to solve growth problems for various types of company, regardless of its verticals and monetization models.

I joined Reforge and strengthen my fundamental. I shifted my understanding about growth from this hacky approach, to something that’s closer to a science. There were so many frameworks and mental model that I acquired from Reforge that I’m still using on a daily basis.

Would I go extra miles just to be better at growth if I were already in my comfort zone? Maybe, maybe not. But knowing that for the rest of my life, I could lost my job at any moment, I had no choice but to be better.

Developing a healthier financial habit

Again, the goal is simple: How can I build a healthy financial habit that would allow me to maximize my productive years and prepare me for the worst period?

There can only be one answer for this: by focusing on the basics of personal finance. It feels like learning to walk like a baby, all over again. Here are few simple financial habits that helped me the most:

  1. Tracking my expense: I’m using WalletApp (iOS & Android) for this
  2. Expense review: Review my expense in the last 30 days, and see whether it matches with my budget plan.
  3. Monthly budgeting: Plan my expense for the next 1 month.
  4. Net worth projection: After finishing my budgeting, I try to project my expected assets by the end of 2023.

The one habit that has been motivating me the most is doing a net worth projection. Here’s how I do it: Based on my current salary, monthly expense, and one-off expense (e.g birthday dinner, buying gifts for closest ones, etc), I simply consider these and build a simple table on Google Sheets.

Several reasons why this habit has been so beneficial for me:

  • Light at the end of the tunnel. It’s very motivating to see what I could achieve at the end if I manage to stay disciplined.
  • Plan for non-periodical expenses. Besides the monthly expense, it forces me to take also plan for non-periodical expense. My biggest mistake in the past was thinking that these expenses were not significant. Wrong. In total, these expenses costed me more than ~25 million / year:
    • Birthday dinner
    • Birthday gift for parents, siblings, or closest friends
    • Qurban
    • Video games
    • Zakat
    • Car services
    • Car tax

Honestly speaking, I don’t think I would’ve done all of these if I weren’t being laid off. I think I would’ve just kept spending my money and only saved what I had left. I would’ve kept postponing this until the moment calls for me to do so.

I’m just glad that moment arrived when I’m 24, not 30 or 35.

Losing my grandmother

I’m not gonna go into too many details here. Losing our beloved grandmother was the lowest point for our family this year. It’s obviously very different with losing a job.

Losing a loved one is always a huge loss, but perhaps there is a realization that will keep me grounded in how I live my life.

I’ve just realized how incredibly fragile life is. All my dreams, aspirations, and thoughts could be stripped away in an instant. The same goes for those around me.

I will try to let those closest to me know that I love and appreciate them. It will never be perfect, that’s for sure. But I’ll try to do it in my own way.

I will try to go after what I want. Obviously in a way that doesn’t compromise the other aspects of my life to the point of no return. But I’ll try, even if it means I’ll get there slower than everyone else.

What will be different in 2023

I like my life the way it is. Not just outwards, but I also feel that I have a healthy relationship inwards. I feel quite secure with who I am as a person, and my self-confidence is no longer faked like it used to.

I don’t have a new resolution to be achieved next year. Yes, I do have an aspiration or things that I’d love to happen, but I’m not putting it into my non-negotiable goals.

It’s like if I achieve it, then cool. That’d be great. But if I don’t, I won’t sweat over it. The only thing I want is to carry the positive habits I’ve recently acquired into next year.

I want to keep getting better at my job not only because I have to, but also because I enjoy doing it. I want to continue doing these healthy financial habits. I want to stay disciplined with how I use my time for my career and personal life. I want to continue expressing my love and appreciations to those who really matter for me, be it through words or actions.

To summarize, there is no 2023 resolutions for me.

I’d rather call it a better 2022.

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