2017 Year in Review

What went well and what didn't in 2017.

2017 Year in Review

It's that time of the year again.
Time to wrap up presents, eat like there is going to be a global famine and ask three simple questions:

  • What went well last year?
  • What did not go well last year?
  • What do I want to do next year?

Now as you read this keep in mind that it is mostly written for my benefit, so I can reflect on the year and have this journal to refer back to later. I do it in public because I think you may enjoy it and be able to learn from it in some way.

manuel & vicky in Bali

What went well

Health 🏋

After 9 years as a smoker, I've decided to quit cigarettes for good.
The historical date is the 17th of July and I went cold turkey.

Day 5. Cravings virtually gone. Went for a run after a long time and felt great. 💪 #smokefree pic.twitter.com/KpibDBNFnZ— Ⓜ️anuel Frigerio (@mnlfrgr) July 22, 2017

When I talk about this, people always ask me the same two questions: why did I do it and how hard it was. So in this post, I'm going to answer both questions once and for all.

I've always found fascinating that people ask why one stops smoking as if it weren't already clear and obvious. I believe a lot of people who ask this question (usually smokers, since non-smokers already know why you should not smoke) actually want to know what was the final reason that made me go "I've had enough, no more!"

So, I'll skip the obvious health reasons and instead, I'll focus on this question. To make the long story short, I decided to quit because, one day, I want to have children and I don't want to be a bad example to them. Smoking definitely falls into the category of "bad example". If you smoke, your children are 70% more likely to become smokers. Children learn by example. If you are seen by them smoking, they will think is a good thing to do, even if you tell them that it's not good for their health.

So I woke up one day, I projected myself mentally 10 years from now and I visualised myself smoking a cigarette in front of my 5 years old child. I simply couldn't bear the idea of teaching her how to systematically destroy her life. And that was enough for me.

Even during the first 6-7 days, when the withdrawal pangs were still relatively painful, I simply needed to remind myself of why I was doing it to get through the pang. If there is one thing this experience has taught me is that if you can't let go of harmful habits/addictions is because your WHY is not strong enough.

Paraphrasing Friedrich Nietzsche: "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."

Travel ✈️

2017 has been a legendary year for travelling. I've travelled to 10 countries and many more cities, including Thailand, Cambodia, Bali, Hong Kong, China, Japan, France, Venice, Modena, Parma, Florence, Pisa, Cologne, Berlin, South of Italy, Perugia, Scotland & London.

The first part of the year (Thailand, Cambodia, Bali, Hong Kong, China, Japan) was part of my 8 months trip in Asia. With the only exception of China (too many complaints to list them here), I absolutely loved Asia. The colours, the smells, the food, the culture, the beaches, everything was great and Vicky and I had a lot of fun.

manuel with stormtroopers in Honk Kong
pool in Bali
manuel eating noodles in China
amazing sea view in Bali

The second part of the year - when Vicky and I settled in in Italy (more on this later) - was characterized by smaller and frequent trips to Italy and European countries. I've finally visited Italian cities such as Venice, Pisa and Perugia and re-visited Matera, Tropea, Florence, Modena and Parma. In September we went on an epic trip to LaSalle Chateaux, France. Vicky's friend Jessica invited us to the warming party of this 14th-century chateaux and we humbly accepted.

LaSalle, Macon

Moving in with Vicky 👫

In May Vicky and I have decided to live together in Italy. Yes, like grown-ups.

I must be honest and say that it hasn't been a walk in the park (Vicky didn't speak Italian and didn't know anybody), but despite the obvious ups and downs, we have done amazingly well. Our house has become more and cosier over time and I have re-established relationships with old friends.

The only big cons at the moment seem to be the fact that we spend a disproportionate amount of time in the house (we work from home). This is definitely something that needs to change next year.

Books 📚

2017 was also a great year for reading. I wrote a dedicated blog post about that, so I won't repeat myself here.

Cryptocurrencies ฿

I've started investing in cryptocurrencies as an experiment. So far I've invested a relatively trivial amount (around $600) with a 197% ROI.

My strategy is very simple. I purchase $50 worth of crypto every 2 weeks, usually in the 2:2:1 proportion ($20 of Bitcoin, $20 of Ethereum and $10 of Litecoin), regardless of market fluctuations or price. Essentially I adopt an investment technique called "dollar-cost-averaging". My strategy is long-term: buy & hold. I plan on keep purchasing cryptocurrencies for another 6 months and re-assess.

What did not go well

2017 has been a full-on year. Maître has become my only source of income, responsibilities have grown exponentially and this has meant one thing: off-the-chart cortisol levels, insomnia and a LOT of stress.

Stress management 😖

One thing I can safely say I've totally failed at in 2017 is stress management.
I've lived with the constant feeling that if I wasn't present, online, all the time my business would have fallen apart and the world would have imploded. I've started dreaming about my customers, website bugs, new features. I've had one panic attack, countless sleepless nights and very high levels of cortisol throughout the entire year.

This wasn't just unhealthy, it was unsustainable.

I've started addressing the problem in October by being more strict in my work-personal life balance.
I don't start working until I've finished my morning routine (breakfast and reading). I close my laptop at 6 PM (except for rare exceptions). I've stopped working during weekends and I always try to take at least 1 day completely off from technology.

The last 2-3 years have been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. Being an entrepreneur (especially when you have a small company) means that you have to deal with almost any shit that happens in your company. But that can't really be your entire life. It definitely can't be my entire life.

In 2018 I want to re-introduce hobbies in my life, things that I used to enjoy and I don't anymore for lack of time or mental energy.

I totally agree with DHH that hustling is fine "until it becomes synonymous with grind and you're pushing through pain and exhaustion chasing a bigger carrot".

manuel & santa klaus

Stationary lifestyle 💪

As mentioned above, after Vicky and I had moved in together our steps count has plummeted well below the level "Pathetic".

It actually got a point where some days our most exhausting movement was to go from the living room to the garden. This is no good.

Starting from October we have joined a local gym which we have attended fairly regularly (3 times a week). To commit ourselves long term we have paid the full year in advance (€540). Our goal for 2018 is to be consistent and bring down the average cost per visit to €5, which means going to the gym at least another 92 times by the end of 2018.

manuel in country side dress

What I want to do next year

My goals for next year are:

  • Be more relaxed and enjoy a more balanced life-work balance
  • Save £10,000
  • More meaningful relationships
  • Grow my business to $25,000 MRR
  • Read 40 books
  • Exercise more (bring down the cost per visit to €5)
  • Pick up a hobby (learn to play the guitar?)

What are your goals for 2018?