My 2023 Annual Summary
As 2023 swiftly draws to a close, my university life is nearing its end with just half a year remaining. A friend once said, “What’s frightening is not losing your passion for work, but never being able to find it again.”
This year, I encountered many people and experienced numerous events, gradually shaping my world view. I’m fond of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and often reflect on my own state through it. I enjoy challenges, both in my work and hobbies (like hiking, cycling…). It seems I’ve successfully fulfilled the first four levels of Maslow’s theory: physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, and esteem needs. I’m probably at the stage of self-actualization needs. However, it’s worth mentioning that while Maslow’s theory is hierarchical, human needs aren’t always linear or fixed. For instance, someone at the self-actualization stage might still encounter needs from other levels at different times. If a person loses their job or faces financial difficulties, they may refocus on safety needs like financial security and stability. Similarly, the end of a close relationship or changes in one’s social network might reignite a desire for social needs. Even in everyday life, when we fall ill or feel hungry, our focus might temporarily shift from higher-level needs like self-actualization to physiological needs.
I believe we should recognize that although people might focus on different levels of needs at different times, it doesn’t mean they’re regressing in personal development. Instead, it’s a natural, dynamic process reflecting life’s complexity and variability. Adapting one’s focus of needs flexibly in the face of challenges and change is part of adaptation and personal growth. Thus, going with the flow, keeping pace, continuously learning, and reflecting are my mottos for growth and survival.
Outdoor activities have significantly relaxed my mind, allowing me to view the “big picture” from an outsider’s perspective. Throughout the growth cycle, we are like players in a chess game, each role indispensable but with its own limitations.
This year I felt a strong drive, detesting a life akin to a frog boiled in warm water and a complacent lifestyle. Occasionally, a spark of an idea or a flash of inspiration would lead me to consider starting my own business. These ideas are recorded in my notebook, possibly to be revisited in the future for a wholehearted attempt. Being at the level of self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy, I yearn to create my own business. A career is an activity with specific goals, scale, and system that impacts societal development; work, however, involves repetitive actions or tasks over a long period. Clearly, if life is a game, then the latter is like an NPC, engaged in repetitive, value-less tasks, not conducive to personal growth or societal progress. Business and entrepreneurship differ too, business is short-term profit-oriented, while a career is guided by life’s ambitions. During a trip to Chongqing, I had a meaningful exchange with an experienced entrepreneur. It became clear that business is driven by profit, while a true career is driven by dreams, passion, and perseverance, with earning money being a natural part of the process. As a cog in the machine, working on the front lines, even though pawns in chess seem insignificant, they are fundamental in achieving strategic goals. In entrepreneurship, front-line employees (developers, testers, operators) and daily operations teams are like these pawns, executing daily tasks, essential for the business to function. However, being just a pawn isn’t enough if you aspire to build your own business. Focusing solely on day-to-day operations without a broader vision could lead to missed strategic opportunities. You need to leap beyond your current thinking and constraints, combining the foresight of a bishop, the innovative thinking of a knight, and the execution power of a rook. This means developing long-term strategies (bishop), flexibly handling emergencies and creatively solving problems (knight), and directly driving business forward (rook). Even strategic thinking is necessary; akin to a king in chess, setting the company’s long-term goals and strategic direction. Although the king’s movement in chess is limited, it is central to the game. Similarly, as entrepreneurs, we might not directly participate in every detail, but our decisions and visions are crucial to the company.
During job interviews, I enjoy asking questions like:
- Why do employees choose to stay at this company? What aspects of their work are they most passionate about?
- Why did you choose this company, and what motivates you personally to work here? What aspects of the company do your colleagues value most?
- Could you describe the work environment here? How do employees usually describe their work experience at this company?
- As a boss, could you share your entrepreneurial experience? Why did you choose entrepreneurship, and what does it mean to you?
- Could you share the leadership style of the company’s leaders? How do they motivate the team and drive innovation?
These questions can help you understand the work state and mindset of employees and bosses.
In the traditional Chinese educational framework, success is defined as having your own business. However, success is actually a feeling, a state of confidence and satisfaction after achieving one’s ideals! Everyone’s definition of success is different! In simple success studies, success is defined as: Talent, effort, and luck. Using the mindset of coding, among these, only effort is writable, while talent and luck are read-only. Hence, for most of us, it’s about “doing our best and leaving the rest to fate.” There’s a motivational song that goes: Just do your best, and leave the rest to fate. So, this is the mindset formed this year: be brave to act, don’t fear loss, and treat effort as an investment, like the K-line chart of the secondary market, with its ups and downs. For example, one curve might initially zigzag before suddenly shooting upwards at a turning point; another might continue zigzagging without clear direction; a third might plunge after a turning point. Most of us aspire to follow the first curve, but no one knows if the initial zigzagging will lead to a turning point. Sometimes we may feel stagnant or face ups and downs, but this doesn’t signify failure. Stability can be an opportunity for growth and self-reflection, or it might be a phase of accumulating energy for the next leap. Bravely facing challenges, not fearing loss, and viewing effort as an investment are key to growth and success. Life and career paths have their ups and downs, evident in Confucian thought. In dealing with gains and losses, honors and disgraces, successes and failures, and even life’s fortunes and misfortunes, one should focus on “seeking within oneself” rather than relying on external forces or blaming others. What matters is how we respond to these fluctuations and what we learn from them.
For a quick annual summary, I’ll focus on the following topics:
Firstly, professionally, my GitHub profile is most representative.
My GitHub contributions:
I. Open Source Project Contributions
Represented by GitHub, this year’s ossinsight performance:
- Project Participation:
- Technical Growth:
- New technologies and tools learned: Learned chatgpt :smile:
- Related training or seminars attended: Attended many offline meetups in Shenzhen, which were very beneficial. They included, but were not limited to, learning cutting-edge technology, meeting outstanding people, and learning replicable methods.
- Helping more people: My knowledge-based projects gained recognition, with many people joining my kubecub Slack community. I’m glad to have made many friends and helped others. Releasing my work as open source also gained nearly a thousand stars, adding a significant highlight to my resume.
II. Reading and Learning
- Book Reading:
- Primarily professional books, including programming languages, cloud, and infrastructure. Titles like “GitOps”, “In-depth Analysis of Kubernetes”, “Distributed Object Storage”, “Cloud-Native Operating Systems”… Even some books on open-source philosophy and commercialization, which might be less mainstream, such as “The Cathedral & the Bazaar”, “Hackers and Painters”, and even “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. These books require thoughtful reading and contemplation. I have briefly mentioned them in my personal blog: Link to blog.
- Before sleeping, I read “Why We Sleep?”. Initially, I thought it was a dramatic, children’s book. But it turned out to be a revelation of my limited understanding. Now, I consider it a must-read for everyone, especially in today’s highly competitive society (particularly in Shenzhen), where most people stay up late and undervalue sleep. Before reading this book, I was seeking a scientific method to sleep less but more efficiently. Unfortunately, the author’s perspective shattered my expectations…
- For psychology, this year I read “Social Psychology” and “Intimate Relationships”. The latter is worth keeping at hand for regular reference and self-comfort. Social Psychology lies at the intersection of sociology and psychology, offering insights into how people view others, influence each other, and connect.
- In economics, my favorites are “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and “The Tower of Monetary Economics”. In a world of drastic changes, stable coordinates are essential. In an era of gold, fiat currency, digital currency, and cryptocurrency, mastering and harnessing monetary capabilities is crucial, and this book fills that knowledge gap.
- “Deliberate Practice” has two versions on WeChat Reading: “From Novice to Master” and “How to Become an Expert”. I read the latter. It uses science, psychology, and human nature to help us understand that change just requires finding the right method for deliberate practice. Like me, now preferring warm base layers and ski pants for shopping, prioritizing physical stores like Decathlon, and choosing sport-oriented clothing to inspire exercise.
- Knowledge Expansion:
- Beyond reading: I enjoy attending various classes. Sometimes, after watching a legal drama, I might delve into legal knowledge, plots, and speeches based on my interests at the time. Never underestimate short-lived passions; they are an efficient way to broaden knowledge.
III. Challenges and Achievements
- I’ve grown a lot in open-source community operations this year. More importantly, I’ve learned to summarize and learn from others, like joining and reviewing the Kubernetes open-source community. As a student, I’ve participated in many domestic open-source communities and projects, gaining valuable knowledge in community management and operations.
- Internship at OpenIM: As my first internship, I was fortunate to realize many of my ideas at OpenIM. Currently, I’m proud to be at the top of the OpenIM contributors list. Going forward, I hope to learn and implement more excellent ideas within OpenIM.
- This year, I lost some weight and started focusing on health. Loving the outdoors, I follow my heart more. I now seek a better physique and photogenic presence. This positive feedback loop helps me identify good and bad habits and use self-encouragement to maintain exercise routines.
- Facing my thoughts fearlessly: When I decided to travel to Western Sichuan, many friends opposed it, especially climbing a snow mountain without prior high-altitude experience. Embarking on a self-driving tour through Sichuan Highway 318 was a leap of faith. This adventurous spirit, combined with proper preparation and learning, is crucial for growth and self-fulfillment. Facing fears and uncertainties is an essential part of personal development. Don’t be afraid to record your thoughts and dreams, even if they seem unattainable now. Every great entrepreneur or explorer’s journey starts with a simple idea. Document your thoughts, keep learning and preparing, and when the opportunity arises, you’ll be ready to embrace the challenge.
IV. Outdoor Activities and Leisure
I participated in many activities this year, marking my first year in the outdoors. Initially drawn to photography, I saved up for a Sony camera, which later collected dust in the dorm. My first trip was to Mount Huangshan with classmates. Unprepared, we summited late in the evening. Tired but fortunate, we witnessed a magnificent sea of clouds right after a rain, instantly relieving our fatigue and sparking my love for the outdoors.
The second trip, well-planned, was to the popular Wugong Mountain from Xiaohongshu. Driven by the desire to see the sea of clouds again, I went spontaneously. A couple from Wuhan accompanied me. I set out alone for the reverse trek in Wugong Mountain one afternoon. As I was about to leave, some people from Guangdong at Longshan Village urged me to hike with them the next day. They even offered supplies and suggested staying overnight, but I left quietly to avoid disturbing them. It was my first time hiking alone, but luckily I met an outdoor group on the way. The mountain was freezing and windy at sunset, and I quickly felt like catching a cold. Then, I met some kind people who took me to a mountain lodge.
On my second trip to Wugong Mountain, I went with classmates, and later I visited many other places. After moving to Shenzhen for an internship, I hiked Shenzhen’s mountains weekly with friends and hiked the MacLehose Trail in Hong Kong, particularly its second, third, and fourth sections. I also camped on islands like Tap Mun and Po Toi.
Just before Christmas, I fulfilled a long-time wish by traveling to Western Sichuan, self-driving along Highway 318, and climbing my first and second snow mountains. Interestingly, I carried my laptop on trips, working during idle times, like when others were ordering food. I also lived in various cities for short periods, immersing myself in the cultures of Chongqing and Chengdu. These experiences might influence my post-graduation plans.
V. Future Plans
1. Career Development:
- Outlook for future career: In the next few years, I aim to expand my contributions and influence in the open-source community and deepen my technical expertise in areas like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and big data.
- Planned projects or learning goals: My short-term goal is to delve into core concepts of machine learning and AI, applying them in practical projects. I also plan to participate in more challenging open-source projects to gain experience and broaden my technical horizons.
- Maintaining independent thought and personal rhythm: Individual behavior is driven by cognition. In prosperous times, opportunities seem everywhere, while economic downturns reveal the real situation. It’s important to maintain your own pace and not be swept away by trends.
2. Personal Growth:
- Plan for developing personal interests: Besides professional growth, I plan to further cultivate my interest in outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and photography. These activities not only promote physical and mental health but also enhance adaptability and the ability to handle complex situations.
- Preparation and strategy for future challenges: Facing future challenges, I will continue to maintain a learning and adaptive attitude. To prepare for future professional challenges, I will continuously improve my technical and teamwork skills. I will also focus on mental and emotional health to ensure clear and balanced thinking when facing challenges.
- Continued Challenges: I look forward to the future! A future that demands breaking the norm, embracing change, and constantly reinventing oneself.
Sometimes we all feel lost, unsure of what kind of life we desire or what we truly want. We struggle to identify our passions and aspirations, often finding it challenging to uncover these answers. However, the truth remains that we constantly strive for the life we desire, taking pride in our achievements.
- Reflections on the Annual Summary: Looking back over the past year, I’ve made significant progress in both my career and personal growth. In 2023, I am proud of the achievements I have made. I’ve come to realize that continuous learning and constantly challenging myself are key to achieving my goals. I have also learned how to find relaxation and enjoyment amidst a busy schedule of work and study, which is crucial for my overall well-being.
- Expectations and Outlook for the Future: Looking ahead, I am filled with anticipation and confidence. I aspire to achieve more in my professional journey while maintaining my curiosity and passion for learning, continuously exploring new areas. Additionally, I look forward to enhancing my personal interests and quality of life, aiming for a richer and more balanced existence.