2023 Year in Review

For me, 2023 was probably one of the hardest and best I’ve ever been through, and happily, it ended well with me in a pretty good place to start 2024.

Achievements

  • I’ve lost somewhere in the region of 5-10kg in weight this year, I’m in the best physical shape I’ve been in years and I generally feel good
  • I was instrumental in relaunching the web shop at work under a new brand
  • I’ve created, implemented and continually improved a design system at work, enabling the rapid creation of several apps with more to come

Challenges

My mental health took a beating this year – and having seen a couple of posts from others, it seems a common theme. Looking back though, I’ve had issues with anxiety all my life, but between work stress, parenting challenges and a backdrop of wars and climate disasters, I reached breaking point half way through the year. The anxiety led to some pretty unpleasant physical symptoms, like retinal migraines and put a massive strain on relationships, both professional and personal.

I’m happy to say that at reaching my lowest point, I began to understand and deal with these issues and got myself to a really good place in the latter half of the year. That’s not to say I don’t still experience anxiety or stress, but I’m better equipped to deal with it and it doesn’t take over anymore.

2023 Goals

This year, I set myself too many, very specific goals to be realistically achievable. That doesn’t really help with motivation or anxiety levels! For 2024, the list will be shorter, a bit broader in terms of what success looks like and more achievable so that I can focus on the mental and physical health of me and my family.

2023 Highlights

There was a lot of good stuff during 2023.

  • Two brilliant family holidays in the UK, making great memories with the kids
  • Some wonderful weekends away with my wife soaking up some culture and enjoying great food and drink
  • My birthday gift to myself this year was an art workshop which my wife and I attended together, it was a lot of fun being able to focus on being creative without the distractions of kids and home life!
  • My wife and I went to see Busted live in concert, supported by Hanson, which was really fun
  • We enjoyed a fantastic family Christmas which has been a good break and a great end to the year – my wife’s gift to the family was a Nintendo Switch, so we’ve spent a lot of time playing Mario Kart with the kids over the last week

Books

Gaming

At the start of the year, I was fortunate enough to be able to treat myself to a PS5, so I could enjoy the PlayStation exclusives. The tipping point of the decision to buy was that the Silent Hill 2 remake was supposed to be released this year, but that didn’t happen in the end. Even so, I don’t regret the decision at all; I’ve really enjoyed playing PlayStation games like Spider-Man and The Last of Us Part II.

For Christmas this year, my wife bought a surprise gift for the family – a Nintendo Switch. It’s been really nice the last few days getting to play Mario Kart with the kids and gaming as a family. I’ve been looking forward to having that shared experience for a few years and this year it finally happened.

My favourite game of the year was Alan Wake 2 (39 hours played so far, making it my third most played game of 2023 on Xbox – and it was only released at the end of October!). I love Remedy games and the original Alan Wake, so I’ve been waiting 13 years for a sequel and it didn’t disappoint. The game was amazing in every way!

Gaming Stats

  • Xbox: 233 hrs
  • PS: 88 hrs
  • Nintendo: 13 hrs
  • Total Gaming Time: 334 hrs

Games Played in 2023

  • Alan Wake 2
  • Astro’s Playroom
  • Batman Return to Arkham: Arkham City
  • BroForce
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
  • Control Ultimate Edition
  • Cuphead
  • Dead Space Remake
  • God of War (PS4)
  • Goldeneye 007 (2023)
  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Lego Star Wars The Skywalker Saga
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Resident Evil 4 (2023)
  • Resident Evil 4 HD
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Star Wars: Jedi Survivor
  • Star Wars: Podracer (2022)
  • Starfield
  • Super Mario Wonder
  • The Last of Us Part II
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition
  • TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

A few weeks ago, I built version one of a side project site to showcase my game collection and stats using Astro. It’s a pretty good start, but didn’t really scratch my programming itch. So I’ve started working on a new version using Laravel, which I hope to launch soon.

2024 Goals

Im keeping things simple and achievable for 2024.

  • Focus on the well-being and health of my family and myself
  • Do more personal creative projects
  • Write more

This year I started improving my physical fitness through yoga, HIIT and strength training with Apple Fitness+. Aside from losing weight and being in the best physical shape I’ve been in years, it’s also done wonders for my mental health. I’ve built a decent foundation in the last few months, and I intend to continue building on it in 2024.

On the theme of well-being, doing more personal creative projects has been a good support for my mental health. So, more art projects and coding projects with no pressure is the aim for the coming year.

I haven’t posted on my blog here for about half a year. I want to change that in 2024. Writing is also a good creative outlet and helps to solidify my thinking. I’m not setting any specific goals for posting, but if I get to the end of 2024 and have been posting fairly regularly, I’ll consider it a win.

Wrap Up

This year was really tough, but it ended on a high note, with my mental and physical well-being in a really good place to start 2024. The main lesson I learned this year was that a bad day does not equal a bad life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the crap that we all have to deal with and miss the wonderful parts of life. I’m grateful that I’ve gotten back to a point where I can truly appreciate the great parts of life again.