I’ve written a “year in review” post for the last twelve years. I highly recommend you try it. It’s a time capsule that lets you reflect on the past year, appreciate parts of it that were great, and develop a plan for the next year. You can view any of the past 12 years’ posts here: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
2022 was a rough year. In May of this year, I tore my ACL in my right knee while stepping down from a 20″ high box while doing CrossFit. I’ve never had any mobility issues or injuries this serious before. My summer of backpacking, hiking, and camping changed to a summer of physical therapy, surgery, and recovery.
Two weeks after that surgery in July, while I was still on crutches, our dog Lily passed away. She was 14 years old and still our adventure partner. To say this crushed us is an understatement. That decision was one of the hardest either of us has ever had to make. We have no regrets for taking the most humane path when she was in clear pain without any realistic chance of improvement.
Summer was rough. It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t written as much here on Minafi this year. Both events left massive holes in my life. Afterward, I shifted my focus to my mental and physical health. This included weekly physical therapy with a trainer, daily PT at home, daily/weekly journaling, and lowering the amount of time I work on Hardcover. I’m not at 100%, but each month I feel healthier and happier.
That’s it for the bad stuff – mostly.
The good of this year still outweighed the bad. After years of quarantine, we were able to return to some of our favorite activities. We went to weddings and saw friends. We visited with family both locally and traveled to see them. We explored Disneyland in LA for the first time (after living in Orlando with Disney annual passes for a decade). We had a bunch of quality time together and continued trying to figure out what a day looks like for a semi-retired, child-free couple living in an apartment at 40 years old.
Most of the rest of this will be about the good stuff, which was most of the year.
My 2022 Month by Month
Here are some of the highlights from each month. The memories that most stand out looking back.
January: Watched a bunch of movies at the Sundance Film Festival (You Won’t be Alone was my favorite). I intended to volunteer in person, but Sundance went 100% online after the Omicron COVID variant. Played in a D&D campaign with some local friends that involved incredible 3D printed and digital props.
February: Marilyn and I had a Disneyland trip scheduled in 2020 (actually it was going to be a FinCon 2020 + Disney trip). We rescheduled it for February, trying to find a space between COVID spikes. It was an AMAZING trip. We spent a full day at Disneyland and California Adventure, stayed at a hotel within walking distance, and went full-on tourist. Neither of us had explored LA much, so the entire experience was new. A favorite stop was the Academy Museum (Academy = group that gives out Oscar awards for movies).
March: Most of this month is a blur. We recovered from our trip and I worked a bunch on Hardcover. We launched the beta on National Reading Day and drew in a few hundred sign-ups. It wasn’t an immediate success, but I continued working on it throughout the rest of the year.
April: Road trip! We booked an Airbnb in Seattle and drove up from Salt Lake to spend two weeks with friends. Seattle has always been on our shortlist of places we might want to live someday. We stayed in the Greenwood area (just north and east of Ballard) and had a blast. We went to breweries and restaurants, ate oysters, saw tulips, had game nights with friends, went to a Magnetic Fields concert and Lily even got her feet wet in the Pacific Ocean.
May: I returned from our road trip invigorated and ready to work on myself more. I signed back up for CrossFit for the first time since pausing due to COVID. On my 2nd day back I tore my ACL in my right knee while stepping down from a 20″ high box while holding two 25-lb weights. 😭 Two weeks later, at 8 AM on my 40th birthday I went in for an MRI which confirmed the tear. Later on, we went on a friend’s trip to Idaho Falls where we rented a house and the 6 of us just chilled together. I’d love to make this a yearly thing.
June: Since I wasn’t able to hike, I turned my attention back towards Hardcover and spent most of each day programming. We launched Airlists, an Airtable-like view for your books for readers to explore in ways we can’t even anticipate. Marilyn’s mom came and spent a week with us where we acted like tourists. I’m glad she was able to visit with Lily.
July: Not a great month. I had ACL surgery (using my quad tendon) and spent the rest of the month limping around on crutches, elevating and icing it in bed. I had to let go of a volunteer from the Hardcover team in a very emotional way. And then at the end of the month, Lily passed away. We did get to see Regina Spektor in concert before all of that went down though, which was a highlight.
August: If there was a theme for this month it was recovery. Both my wife and my emotions felt made of glass this month. There were so many times we’d just break down and cry about Lily. I think we both went through every photo we have of her. I couldn’t even refill my ice machine and bring it back to bed, so Marilyn was taking care of me physically. At the same time, I was icing my leg constantly and starting physical therapy. By the end of the month I was off crutches and able to walk on my own. To deal with some of my grief, I created Line of Thought to track my mood and remember what I was up to. It’s been therapeutic to look back on now.
September: Marilyn traveled to Denver for a week, so I of course took that as a chance to revamp a room of our apartment (it’s kind of a theme whenever she travels). This time it was our bathroom which I redid with a “forest spa” kind of theme that came our just like I planned (she loved it too). I also watched the show “Normal People” alone and had a less-than-healthy couple of days mentally coming down from that.
October: Started posting daily on the Hardcover TikTok in an attempt to drum up more attention (which somewhat worked). That ended up being far more fun than I expected, and I learned a lot. We tried to keep things fun by watching horror movies (X and Pearl were my favorites) and going to Rocky Horror live for the first time since before COVID. For Halloween, we went the literary route and went as Jamie and Claire Fraser from Outlander (I couldn’t get the wig right and ended up scrapping it).
November: Rather than cooking for thanksgiving we decided to order a bunch of Puerto Rican staples and bring them to Friendsgiving. I think this month felt like a time when the recovery from the last few months paid off. It was more about finding a new normal for happiness. I worked at a coffee shop for the first time since before COVID. Marilyn and I had a more serious chat about finances where I shared some worries I’ve had about them that I hadn’t yet realized myself. I’m trying to not keep those worries or stress to myself.
December: We jumped fully into the holiday spirit this year. We picked up a full-size Christmas tree (which was covered in snow when we got it). We made Christmas cookies and gave them away. We had hot mulled Apple Cider and wine. We watched so many Christmas movies we ran out of “good” ones and moved on to the C-list films we skipped earlier in the season. Christmas music played on repeat. And it was amazing. We ended the year with a week-long trip back to Orlando to be with Marilyn’s family for the holidays.
Here are some of my favorite places, moments, and experiences from the year.
Favorite spot I visited: Our Airbnb in Idaho Falls was incredible – but that could be more because of the friends we traveled with. Rosario Beach on Whidbey Island in Washington was up there for beauty and calmness.
Favorite meal: While in Seattle we drove 2 hours north to visit Taylor Shellfish Farms – an oyster farm on the water. I LOVE oysters and being able to try a bunch of different types pulled from the ocean that day was an experience on par with going to a fancy sushi place. Saffron Valley (Indian) was our go-to takeout at home this year. Susuru in Orlando, a traditional izakaya, is the restaurant I’d love to go back to.
Favorite Video Game I played: This wasn’t much of a gaming year for me. Actually, I don’t think I bought a single new game this year. Most of my gaming has been playing Stardew Valley with my niece and nephew.
Favorite Board Game I played: Wingspan is still a goto favorite. I tried Clank which was a lot of fun too.
Favorite concert: Regina Spektor killed it (even if she forgot the words to a few of her songs 😅). Magnetic Fields were solid. Barenaked Ladies, Gin Blossoms & Toad the Wet Sprocket were just fun and nostalgic.
Favorite Live Event: Rocky Horror Picture Show with a raunchy live cast is always a blast. We intended to go with a group but tickets sold out too fast, so we went on our own. Bernadette Peters live with the Utah Symphony was great as well. The Moulin Rouge broadway show here in SLC was great, but lacked some of the energy from when we saw it in previews on broadway (*humble brag* 😉). Drawn To Life, a new Cirque du Soleil show in Orlando, was fun too.
Favorite hike: I went on 1 hike this year. 😭 Rattlesnake Gulch in SLC is one of my favorite warm-up hikes early in the season before all the snow has melted. I’m glad I got it in before my knee injury. We did take the ski lift up to Park City during the summer to walk around. That was a few weeks before my surgery so I had to be super careful not to reinjure myself.
Favorite movies: You Won’t be Alone is my favorite movie of the year. It’s a beautiful film about a witch in 19th-century Macedonia that amazed me. It has very little dialog, but an incredible story and performance. Some other standouts are “Everything, Everywhere All At Once”, Emily the Criminal, Luckiest Girl Alive (wait, do I like Audrey Plaza?), The Princess, Dr. Strange, The Batman, and Spirited. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is the one that makes me smile the most.
Favorite shows: Wednesday, Normal People, 1899, Sandman, White Lotus S2, The Rehearsal, Star Trek Discovery/Strange New Worlds/Lower Decks (all have been great, but Discovery is my favorite), House of the Dragon, The Boys S3 and Stranger Things S4.
Favorite Podcasts: Game of Thrones Season 8 Redux , Software Social, Something Was Wrong, Art of Product. I listened to fewer podcasts this year and tried to branch out to new ones I haven’t listened to before. I decided to take a break from personal finance this year, but I’ll still catch the occasional Mad Fientist ep.
Favorite books: I’m Glad My Mom Died, Normal People, Piranesi, Locke & Key (comic). I didn’t read as much as I usually did this year. Part of that is because dog walking was my audiobook-listening time. :/
Favorite new programming discovery: SVG Animations! It’s a category of web development that I’d never learned much about. After a bunch of research and an online class by Cassie Evans, I now know significantly more! I’m now excited to see what I can do with this new concept.
Favorite projects: Hardcover has been my main focus this year. I also redid my Projects page and (started redoing) AdamFortuna.com. Line of Thought has helped me take a minute each day to remember what made that day special.
Favorite exercise: I started this year running (after running a marathon in 2021). That shifted to going to my apartment gym. Then to CrossFit (for 2 days). Then to physical therapy for a few months. My PT recommended biking more, so we went all in and got a Peloton for our apartment. I’ve never been much into cycling, but both my wife and I love it. It’s like a human hampster wheel that keeps you entertained.
Impactful Decisions & Habits
Since I FIRE’d 4 years ago (wow, has it been that long?) I’ve had a flexible schedule. For this year that typically looked something like this:
- 8 am-10 am: Wake up naturally and have coffee and breakfast in bed with Marilyn. This is how we absolutely love to start each day and it’s now our routine. 😂 We’ll read or check our phones and enjoy the view of the mountains from our window. I’m trying to get better at not checking my phone during this time because that rarely improves the morning.
- 11 am-1 pm: Physical therapy, biking on our (new) Peloton, going to the gym in our apartment, showering & lunch. PT is an everyday thing. I keep shifting my exercise schedule to figure out what works. I still haven’t found the cadence that works for me. I’ve tried every day, 2 on/2 off, alternating days – you name it. Currently, I’m doing PT every day and then every other day I’ll alternate between going to the gym or on a 30-45 minute Peloton ride.
- 1 pm-6 pm: This is my “work” time. That could mean just about anything, but doing something. Cleaning the house, running errands, working on Hardcover, or another programming project.
- 6 pm-8 pm: Dinner usually falls sometime around here. We order delivery on Friday nights (with enough for leftovers) and make most of the rest of our meals at home.
- 8 pm-12 am: Together time! We’ll usually curl up in bed and put something on our projector. We both love winding down at the end of the day here. This could mean working more on projects, being on our phones, actively watching something, playing a game, or having together time.
That’s the broad strokes of how most of our days go. Most days we don’t hang out with people, have meetings, or travel. Those are the exceptions, not the rule. Developing this schedule for a day has taken a lot of trial and error. I have no doubt it’ll continue to change – and that’s a good thing.
I had a few mindset shifts this year that were impactful.
I decided that my 40s were going to be the best decade of my life. That decision changed my entire mindset about how I approach things. Want to stay in bed rather than exercise today? Is that going to make this the best time of my life? Want to stay in bed and relax not do anything today? Well, that’s OK too – this is my best decade after all. In other words, I can use this mindset power for growth and laziness. 😂
There are dozens of journaling exercises I’ve tried over the years. My favorite is a weekly review. I took a break from doing these for a lot of 2021 but restarted this year. The format I use is about the same as in the original post. Here’s what I ask myself each week:
- Reflect on my goals for 2022
- Reflect on any short-term goals
- What could I achieve by the end of this week/month that would have the biggest positive impact on my life right now?
- What could I achieve by the end of this week/month that would be the most effective first step toward finding my life goals?
- How did this week contribute to my future well-being and/or well-being of others?
- What was the biggest highlight of my week?
- What was one thing I could have done differently that would make me much happier about how my last week went?
- Set weekly goals. Break them down into super-obvious actions. Timebox everything. Don’t over-commit.
One tricky part about these questions is that they go more toward productivity and less toward happiness. I’m attempting to lean more of my journaling toward balancing contentedness and progress. I’ve found I am happier when I am making progress on something, but it doesn’t need to be leaps and bounds.
After answering these questions I spend some time adding events to my calendar and my to-do list for the week. I’ve found the more I plan things out the easier it is to jump into them when the time comes. Lately, that means blocking out entire sections of my calendar for specific chores and things I want to make sure get done during a week. Basically scheduling tasks I want to avoid the same as meetings.
Like all things this works until it doesn’t. As long as it keeps working for me I’ll keep on doing it and iterating on it.
How’d Finances Go in 2022?
We tried something different this year: I didn’t track or even look at money for the first 6 months.
We didn’t budget.
We didn’t check our investment balance.
We didn’t change our allocation.
We didn’t even track our expenses and categorize them after the fact!
And guess what happened? We spent more than any other year. 😂 Yep, it turns out that tracking actually does bring down our spending quite a bit more than not tracking.
During the second half of the year, our spending ramped up a little more. Major surgery, animal care, holidays, and holiday travel will do that.
In the end, we spent $130,000 in 2022 (!). That number still seems crazy to me. Here’s a breakdown of where it went with last year’s total in parenthesis.
- Alcohol, Bars & More: $3.5k ($3k) +16%
- Food & Dining: $16k ($14k) +14%
- Fun: $7k ($3k) +133%
- Hardcover: $18k ($2k) +800%
- Health & Fitness: $17k ($3k) +466% (surgery, Peloton)
- Hobbies & Personal: 5k ($4k) +25%
- Home: $35k ($29k) +20% (new standing desks)
- Minafi: $139 ($2k) -1,399% (Minafi is mostly breaking even!)
- Pets: $3k ($9k, Major surgery last year) -66%
- Shopping: $4k ($16k, New laptop) -75%
- Transportation: $3k ($3k) 0%
- Travel: $11k ($11k) 0%
The biggest net additions were funding Hardcover, higher rent, and home costs, healthcare, and spending more to have fun (mostly concerts and live events that restarted in 2022).
It’s hard to say how much of this spending is due to inflation versus lifestyle inflation. If you take out our largest purchases, surgery, and side projects, our spending for the year is closer to $100k. Still above our $80k target.
This year we had a 6.5% withdrawal rate from our investments. Not exactly sticking to the 4% rule. Since we managed to end the year happy and healthy, and we recently launched a paid plan on Hardcover, I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position to drastically lower this in 2023 without feeling as much of a hit.
We love our healthcare plan. We’re signed up for a Bronze plan with an HSA from University of Utah Health through healthcare.gov. This year with my ACL surgery they did an AMAZING job, and it cost far less than I imagined. So far the entire bill for the MRI, surgery, 5 months of physical therapy, and follow-up doctor visits is roughly $5,000. That’s still a lot. Insurance has covered about $40k of costs. Our insurance is $250/month for the two of us – that’s a combined amount for the year of $8,000. Sadly in the US, this is a great deal.
In 2021 we planned to have a lower income allowing us to get a rebate on our insurance for the year. Unfortunately, that plan didn’t work out. We had $150k of stock still in Pluralsight after the acquisition that I was holding onto for tax purposes. In 2021 Pluralsight was acquired and taken from public to private. That meant that all outstanding shares were bought – whether we wanted to sell or not. That drove our taxable income in 2021 up to $200k and suddenly we needed to pay back $5k in healthcare.gov rebates combined with paying more in taxes.
That won’t happen in 2022 since we’ve kept our income under $60k. We’ve carefully sold funds based on their cost basis while doing some tax loss harvesting. I doubt we’ll have enough this year to do any tax-gain harvesting while staying under the healthcare cap.
What’s Next for 2023?
Right now our 2023 is mostly wide open. We have a trip to Vegas planned to see a few shows and an Iceland trip we’re penciling in. We renewed our lease in Salt Lake City for another 18 months, but we want to try extended stays in a few cities on our “maybe we’ll move there someday” list. At the top right now are Boulder, CO (more the general Denver area), and Portland, OR. If you’re in either place and want to meet up, let me know!
There are a bunch of events that now feel like part of our “SLC year” I’m sure we’ll enjoy again in 2023: Sundance Film Festival, Red Butte Garden Concert Series, hiking/camping/backpacking season, staying-indoors-and-looking-at-the-snow season, etc. We’d like to lean into Fringe this year and go to more local theater.
There are a few things on my local bucket list it would be fun to pencil in for 2023:
- See a new national park. Maybe Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park or Mesa Verde National Park while out in Colorado.
- Go backpacking to a hot spring. Most likely Fifth Water Hot Springs – it’s nearby and a very chill hike.
- Go stargazing in a dark-sky zone. Antelope Island is a huge island in The Great Salt Lake that’s also a dark skies zone. It’s only a 45-minute drive from our apartment and has a few campgrounds.
When it comes to longer-term goals, there are a few that could be fun to tackle this year:
- Learn more about animation and movement. When a website has playful animation and movement I’m always in awe. Doubly so if there are characters that I can relate with. I want to learn more about how to create this type of emotional connection in things I create using characters and movement.
- Learn how to cook dishes I love from scratch. There’s something about making a dish from scratch that connects you to it. Often when it’s made I’ll realize I love the dish but wouldn’t want to make it (delicious dim sum buns I’m looking at you). I respect and enjoy those meals so much more after knowing what goes into the process.
- Learn the skills to create an iOS application from scratch. We’re launching a Hardcover iOS app right now, so I guess I have to do this one. 😅
I didn’t set any yearly goals for 2022. I’m not sure why I didn’t, to be honest. I suspect I was somewhat stressed working way too much on Hardcover and adding goals would have complicated that. Looking back I was working on Hardcover 40 hours a week for the last few months of 2021. For the last 3 months of 2022, that’s been closer to 20 hours. That’s felt like a better balance and now I feel much more excited about setting other goals.
Rather than setting a bunch of goals, I’m going to lean into the one I’ve already set:
I want to make my 40s the best decade of my life (so far).My one goal for 2023
Simple enough, right? 😅 Keeping this at the forefront of my mind has been tremendously helpful these last few months. There are times when I get – let’s just say obsessed – with something I’m focusing my attention on. That can be a side project, something fitness-related, relationships, games, etc.
Part of this goal is to spend more time understanding what I’m focusing on with this goal in mind. Is what I’m obsessing about making this a better decade? If so, go for it. If not then something may need to change.
Considering that I also set some tasks to work on weekly, I’m alright with this being broad. The product manager in me wants a clear-cut OKR (Objectives and key results) that can be easily measured, but that’s not going to happen. Even tracking my happiness score in Line of Thought doesn’t work like that.
Instead, I’m planning on taking this one week to week. I’ll see what I can do to make each week, or each month the best it can be. Sometimes that means buckling down to work, others it’ll mean staying in bed all day and binge-watching a new series on Netflix.
A good goal can motivate you. This one gives me butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. It leaves room for possibilities and dreams. It also can’t be failed on January 1st. There will be weeks when I do better and worse at this goal, but that’s my north star for the year.