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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

how I know 2023 was the best year of my life

2023 was the best year of my life without a doubt. In fact, so was 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019... you get the point.

I wholeheartedly believe every single year of my life was the best year of my life, with the year after being even better. Those who know me well may argue this is a typical "Bryan Jun" facade coming with unwarranted belief in oneself. Those that know me even better, will probably agree with my bold claim.

I've come to recognize this across multiple accountability systems and "checks" I provide for myself across various platforms, individuals, and habits. As I've done a thoroughly annoying job across Twitter & LinkedIn to lay out my accomplishments for this year already, I thought I'd take time to discuss how I measure whether or not this year was truly the best year of my life.

Birthday Videos to myself

I'd say the first tangible piece of evidence are the videos I record of myself every year on my birthday, a cringey letter to myself to watch the year after, discussing the aspirations I have, the concerns I'm navigating, and the overall thoughts on life I've progressed (or regressed) on in that year. I started this practice four years ago at the recommendation of my friend Harry (hope you're doing well sir) and have been able to look back and forward ever since.

When I look back at the previous year's video and recognize that the worries I had back then are no longer of importance (or have resolved themselves), the goals I've set have become reality, and my thoughts on life have objectively matured, I know for a fact I'm living "better" than the year before. It's good to do this on your birthday so that an exact year of time passes between each one, and you could control for the mood and outlook as a independent and as-neutral-as-possible variable for the video. Granted, I don't care much for my birthday.

Those Around me

I'd like to believe that the people around you are almost a perfect reflection of who you are and what you are becoming. I'm quite certain that if the people around you aren't "evolving" or getting "replaced" by those better than those before them, you're not living better. This might sound awfully cynical and to a degree, psychopathic, but if you take an honest look at your own life and think about who's around you, you'll see what I mean. In the low chance that the people you spend the most time with in your life (let's say you're around my age of a quarter of a century) has been the exact same group for 25+ years, I personally think there's most likely an issue or you're not really growing as an individual. Of course, there are anomaly cases where you and your 6 friends from kindergarten all grew at the same rate (I'm not just talking about worldly success here) and kept each other accountable, etc. But in most cases in both personal experiences and those around me, people tend to grow the most as those around them change. I know for a fact that the 10 closest individuals around me (arbitrary number) are closest representations of who I want to become collectively, more than I've ever been around before.

Inevitable numerical metrics

Growingly, I'm made to believe that worldly measurements of success aren't important. No matter how many Ted Talks or self help books you read on how money does not equal happiness, you don't really know until you go through it yourself. However, I do think human beings require tangible measurements to keep them sane, and feel achievement to not fall into slippery slopes of depression and lack of accomplishment. I'd argue that these handful of metrics are good to keep track of to not necessarily see if your life is successful or if you're happier, but to note whether or not quality of life itself has been improving:

  • Savings and/or savings rate

  • Time spent per week on things that you actually want to do (sleep included)

  • BMI / weight / some health related metric

  • Time spent with family

Ability to endure and overcome

Here's the last and perhaps most important measurement of what I look at to assess whether or not this year has been the best year of my life. As a man of faith, I believe conflicts and even tragedy has intent, and God only allows for what man can endure. This may sound masochist, but I personally think the more struggle that come our way that we're able to overcome, we are truly growing and earning the ability to do so (regardless of it being through worldly means or by virtue of self-growth).

In 2023, God granted more objective "struggle" than perhaps the past 25 years put together. I've gone through my first family death, close friend's suicide, dislocated shoulder, herniated disc, and the crypto bear market (certainly the least struggle of this list) - and yet, I didn't feel it to the extent as I should have. I wouldn't be surprised if 2024 was filled with another level of agony. I'd like to believe I'm ready.

Less me, more God

You can do everything I said above and still recognize that life actually sucks. In fact, you could just be a glass fully empty person and think that every year progressively worsens. It's actually probably true given that we've fallen short, are supposed to be destined for hell, and are living in a world that progressively becomes worse. But that's really where the answer lies - knowing at the end of the day there's really not much you can do, and everything is in His hands. Every year I'm learning to let go and embrace that I must lean on God and less on me.

2023 year was the best year of my life. And 2024 is going to be too. Keep living life to the fullest, make sure you have the best support system in place, and don't take it too seriously.

All glory to God.

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