This is end-of-year post #15 (all prior ones here).
What happened in 2022?
2022 was a mixed bag of a year. Professionally, it was exciting. Personally, it was both challenging and liberating.
I’m going to be unusually open here, because I believe it might be helpful for others to hear these kinds of things; I know hearing similar stories from others helped me a great deal. So.
The first two years of the pandemic were intense, especially keeping up with a demanding full time job and child care under less-than-ideal circumstances. My partner and I both worked from home for the majority of those two years and took turns with childcare whenever our kid’s daycare was closed, or short on staff, or the kid had the sniffles and couldn’t go — which means often. To those of you who’ve had toddlers this will feel familiar, and to those without this particular experience here’s what that means in real life: It means barely a week where childcare doesn’t massively cut into working hours. It means catching up on work in every “free” minute. It means asking colleagues for favors all the time. It means being late with stuff, or not as perfect with stuff, or not as responsive. All the time. It’s draining and frustrating. Now, that’s largely in the past, which is good.
Also, my partner and I split up after nearly 15 years, so that means some major life adjustments not just individually, but also around and for our now 5 year old child. Taking good care of him, being there for him in this time of emotional unrest, and shielding him as much as possible from all of it; guiding him through his emotions; and just generally offering all the stability possible, that was easily one of the hardest challenges in my life. (Partially, because nothing prepares you for this.) It’s also something I believe I managed to do well and am proud of. That said, the whole thing took up a lot of mental bandwidth.
And while break-up stories tend to sound dramatic, this isn’t a bad thing. If a relationship doesn’t work anymore, it’s certainly better to end it. It certainly feels liberating, especially now that the intense part is thoroughly in the rear-view mirror.
I feel like I grew with the challenge and am a better person for it; my relationship to our son certainly is stronger than it’s ever been. I learned a lot about myself, and think I’m a better prepared for all kinds of work-related team dynamics than ever. As I look back at the year, I’m in a good place and looking forward to 2023.
A side effect of all the things mentioned above was that I wasn’t particularly public: I barely did any public speaking, I’m not hosting any events, I write my blog and newsletter on and off. Twitter’s demise isn’t helping with this, either, given Twitter has been my go-to channel for years. (I’m not sure at all that Mastodon will fill that particular gap.) That said, after keeping somewhat quiet for a while, I’m much more actively participating in events and the like, and reconnecting with folks again.
Work-wise, I have zero complaints. I am, in fact, quite stoked about the last year and what’s to come. My work with the excellent folks over at Stiftung Mercator continues. In fact, we just launched an ambitious think tank I had the chance to co-design with the Mercator team, Agora Digitale Transformation. My strategic work with the European AI Fund continued, I got to start to work with the great Sovereign Tech Fund team as well, among others. So it was a year full of most excellent projects and folks. 2023 is shaping up to continue on that trajectory and I’m excited about it.
I also did some career coaching. It’s still ongoing, but I’m glad I followed the recommendation. It really helped clarify a few things for me, especially around what motivates and excites me about work: Working with pioneers who are ahead of the curve in their field; in a tight-knit team; that has quite a bit of autonomy to experiment and learn; on stuff that matters (which to me tends to mean common good / public interest). Knowing this so explicitly seems really helpful to filter for the right types of projects.
The theme for 2022
Last year I wrote:
2021 was for new beginnings.
That is certainly also true for 2022. That said, I’ll add:
2022 was for healing, care (for myself and others) & growth.
Because it wasn’t just about starting over, but also about strengthening the foundations and course-correcting. And it feels very healthy this way.
Friends & Family
I’m happy to report that it appears most friends are doing well, even if you can still feel the remnants of pandemic exhaustion here and there. No major health crises as far as I’m aware. Some separation, some new partners; some babies born. Everything chugging on largely healthily: Good!
2022 continued my trend towards a lot less travel. Where trips were involved, they were mostly for personal reasons rather than work trips: My work is much less globally spread out these days than it was for some years, so there’s currently very little work-related flying and I’m quiet happy about that.
I took less than a dozen trips, 3 out of which were hiking trips. I mostly traveled by train, with one exception. This low level of traveling is unlikely to be sustainable for me in terms of work, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
Speaking & Media
I was extremely light on media mentions this year. It’s pretty obvious that not hosting events means a lot less media attention. Of course it also means needing less media attention, so that’s all as it should be.
In excellent health and as fit as I’ve ever been. No complaints there, quite the contrary.
It was a slow book-reading year, just about 15 or so books plus the usual skimming a quite a few work-related ones.
Firsts & some things I learned along the way
Firsts: Crossed the Austrian Alps on foot. Had a multi-month streak of regular surfing (at an artificial wave).
I certainly learned a lot about myself, about handling conflict, about staying calm when things are chaotic. So: Good. These are excellent skills to have.
So what’s next?
I’m wrapping up 2022 on a high note. I’m looking forward to reading and writing more in 2023, and to find more projects that align with my newly-identified (thanks, coaching!) needs for rewarding work. I’m also looking forward to re-connecting with folks I haven’t spoken to in a while as well as to many new connections.
For now, I hope you get to relax and enjoy the holidays.