Published 10 min read

2023 Recap

While my 2022 was a huge spike in the life volatility, 2023 was a damping oscillator. The dust has settled and things started to get back to an upward trajectory.
2023 Recap
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

While my 2022 was a huge spike in the life volatility, 2023 was a damping oscillator. The dust has settled and things started to get back to an upward trajectory.

2023 was definitely a year of reunion. I've finally got my residence permit in Portugal after long months of waiting. Now I'm able to travel again and meet with family.

In 2023 I probably met more old friends and mates than in the last few years. My university friends, former colleagues, and even classmates. Oh wait. I've even met with my nephew after we haven't seen each other for more than 20 years.

Now I'm seriously thinking about a new hobby: travel around the globe and meet with mates and relatives.

Disclaimer: If you cannot find yourself in any of the photos above, it means either we forgot to take it, or we look 10 years older than we really are.

Work-life Balance and lifestyle. 2023

1 year ago I planned to pay more attention to my work-life balance and improve my lifestyle by doing more outdoor sports and healthy activities.

Instead, I was struggling with a sequence of downward loops of depression that started in 2022 and went on in the first half of 2023. Obviously, it didn't improve my daily lifestyle or add any fun on the weekend.

My addiction to social media, news, and the internet in general played a huge role in that process. It literally destroyed my routine, stole my free time, and sucked all the dopamine out of me.

Lessons learned.

It looks like I've managed to sort it out and bounce back.

Plans for 2024

Plans are exactly the same as the previous year:

  • Minimizing time-waste habits
  • Getting out of my home office clamshell
  • Enriching day-to-day routine with small yet fancy experiences
  • Taking a proper rest

I'm trying to add as much structure to my daily routine as possible. This should help me to avoid distractions and maintain focus.

Freelance in 2023

Freelance is typically considered an unstable and volatile activity. At the same time, my freelance activity won the annual award for the most stable area of my life for the second year in a row.

I continued working with my prior partners, managed to recover my emergency funds, and started to feel way more safe financially.

I didn't achieve my freelance earnings goals, but taking into account the overall state of things in the industry it was still a win.

Now I have a gut feeling that contracting and freelancing are gonna get a second wind in the next few years. Hiring recklessly and the 2022-2023 layoff season has been a lesson for the whole industry.

Plans for 2024

I have a strong will to scale my freelance business but I feel a bit stuck at the moment. I know how to scale 20-30%, maybe even 40%. But it won't let me scale more than 50% and that's what makes me think of changing the game.

Will try to keep up with the previous year's goals and see how it goes.

Investments in 2023

2023 turned out to be a strong bounce back from the scariest year of the decade from an investment standpoint. It turned out to be even better than I was expecting I year ago. 

The financial apocalypse didn't happen and it paid off to all the optimists. 

Some of the sanctions imposed on the lucky Russian passport owners (un)expectedly fried my ass. I had to rearrange my investment portfolio according to the updated landscape of limitations. 

I was really disappointed since I had to withdraw from some of the very promising positions and because of that my portfolio didn't bounce back after the 2022 deep dive like it could.

Due to the high interest rates, borrowed capital became an expensive guilty pleasure so at the beginning of 2023 I quickly deleveraged my portfolio.

My Expectations for 2024 (Not a financial advice)

Markets can be very confusing. I think we were very lucky in 2023 that we didn't face a mortgage -> banks -> real estate collapse. Furthermore, I believe the market growth in 2023 with that high-interest rate was a miracle.

Markets are complicated chicken-and-egg feedback loops of expectations, reactions, over-reactions, and lags in between. You never know at which point you are at the moment which makes it almost impossible to predict.  

At least some sort of vision is needed in order to take action. So let's try to figure out what's going on:

  • The current Fed's interest rate is 5.5%. 
  • The current US inflation rate is 3.1%.
  • The target inflation rate is 2% 

This is how it looks from the historical perspective:

interest rate
Historical Inflation rate
Recent Inflation rate

The target inflation hasn't been reached yet so the Fed is likely to keep the rates at current levels at least until the target. It looks like it might take about 3-6 months until the Fed announces that target inflation is achieved. 

Once it happens it will eventually lead to the next interest rate decrease season.

Inflation rate zoom in

My Stock Market Expectations

When I look at SP500 I don't feel like it can show any substantial growth in 2024 and I would expect it to bounce around the current prices. Simply because interest rates are too high. 

What will I do? 

In 2024 I will be gradually increasing exposure to the broad stock market.

I won't do it at the highest prices like it's now. Will do it either during the price drops or just gradually in portions.

  • If the market goes up in 2024 - that's fine, I will slightly increase exposure and the portfolio will earn a bit
  • If the market drops significantly I will get a good average price for the next decade. High interest rates are not endless anyway.
  • If the market stays the same I will increase exposure and get an "ok" average price for the next decade.

Sounds like a good plan. The goal is to load the portfolio now so that I will be able to start to leverage it with low-interest rates when they are in some distant future.

I imagine an ideal (positive) storm that could possibly break out on the markets:

  • Financial apocalypse is not happening 
  • Inflation target is achieved
  • Fed is starting a season of interest rate decrease

I believe that current conditions are not so suitable for growth (high rates). But things are not so bad and even good enough to bet on the future conditions that would encourage growth. 

It looks like markets are gradually pricing this long-term positive recovery scenario.

My Crypto Market Expectations

If we compare BTC prices and interest rates, we'll see that it doesn't depend solely on the rates. However, it skyrockets best when the Fed's printing machine goes brrr.

Now it is crawling towards the halving event and it feels rather vibrant in general. It appears to me that it's also pricing a long-term positive outcome and decrease of the interest rates. 

Sources

US inflation rates
Fed interest rate

Financial Goals in 2023

2023 was an emergency funds recovery and overall adaptation of financial habits to the new reality.

Plans for 2024

2024 should be the year of optimization. When I moved to Portugal I faced multiple expenses growth: rent, taxes, and my wife is not working full time right now. All this was pissing me off.

My response to this inconvenience is simple. Every little penny should work.

Savings accounts, stacking crypto, or whatever. While interest rates are high there is free money right under the feet.

It will require a bit more rigorous balancing between emergency funds, investment portfolios, and amounts to put aside for future taxes.

I'm also researching the options for a the most efficient business entity in terms of taxes, expenses, etc.

Side Projects in 2023

My relocation side project deadline was fucked up by about 12 months.

Instead of 1-3 months which has always been an average time, I had to wait for 7 (!!!) months to get my residence permit card. I've almost gone mad because of that.

After that, we had to wait for 6 (!!!) months more. Just to be able to arrange an appointment and apply for a residence permit for my wife.

It's all because immigration offices were halted.

And yes, 1 more month to receive my wife's residence permit.

What's the summary?

15 months of time when you are waiting for something to happen. Having no idea if your documents are finally gonna be accepted or declined because of a mistake you accidentally made. Not recommended.

What about REAL side projects?

I've started moving only by the end of the year.

I've built up a very cool infrastructure to migrate from clouds. I've also made a few rounds of project ideas research and finally made things rolling. Hope to have enough motivation and willpower to wrap up this marathon.

Environment in 2023

Haven't almost made a single step in that direction.

I put my head down after the delivery guys almost broke the doorway and then destroyed the wall paint in the hall with my brand-new sofa package.

It's time to admit that I'm totally incapable of investing in a rented apartment.

Travel in 2023

In 2023, I obtained two things: a travel backpack and the skill to pack a single backpack for any kind of trip. No, I treat it as a superpower.

Travelling with a backpack is actually a minimalist's mental practice and it's deeper than it seems to be.
The backpack doesn't only make you pack minimal for a trip. It changes your attitude to things that turn out needless in your life.

In 2023 We didn't travel much though. Just had a few trips around Portugal.

I've also been to Istanbul on a family reunion trip where I also met with a long number of old mates who happened to be there at the time.

I believe I've finally regained the feeling of home; it's the first time I've started missing Lisbon while away.

Health Habits and Sports in 2023

I regularly take daily walks and morning warm-up exercises and even started doing a calisthenics workout, but it was not even close to what I was planning initially.

Big failure here. As an excuse, I've managed to integrate a true biohacker's routine.

I've been taking cold showers in the morning since spring and continued throughout the year until winter when cold water got REALLY cold. Not a big deal, but every little helps.

Plans for 2024

Snow season

There are incredible ski resorts nearby in Spain which are worth visiting. I'm planning to open the snow season if I am lucky enough and my ski equipment reaches Lisbon before the end of the season

Ski season you hear me? I WILL OPEN YOU

GYM

Even though I consider GYM the most boring thing in the world, I've talked myself into signing up after a break of about 8 years. When I tried calisthenics training I was blown away by the amount of mental energy I obtained thanks to the strength training

Hobby in 2023

Note taking

It looks like my main hobby at the moment is note taking. Yes, it's boring ,but only for the first 2000 notes.

Video Games

I stopped playing video games when I was 16 or 17. So I didn't almost play for ~16 years. During that time I've tried a few times to play bestsellers like GTA5, but it has never lasted long. I usually got bored in a few hours.

I didn't have any particular reason to quit, but I just suddenly lost any interest at all. That was not something one would expect after playing offline and then online for many years.
Frankly, I even missed sometimes it when I saw how folks have a lot of fun doing that.

So I decided to give the video games a second chance and bought a Steam Deck to play a bit.

I've got a prejudice about video games. So this will be an interesting experiment to check if any game is capable of engaging me back. How it will affect my motivation, dopamine, etc.