Another year has come to an end and it’s time to reflect on it. Let’s dive right in.

My personal highlight is the discovery of indoor climbing (aka bouldering). I used to think of it as a hipster sport but bouldering is intense and extremely rewarding (and frustrating) in a lot of different ways. It feels almost like a condensed version of human existence: fail, fail, almost succeed, fail, win. That one victory after a series of defeats tastes the sweatest! And of course, the climbing itself is a great excercise for the body. A combination of strength, balance, controlled movements on tiny foot and hand holds, dynamic jumps to holds further away. It is never boring. Climbing gyms change their routes frequently. Progressing feels like climbing up a step function. You are crushing one grade but moving up to the next level and you dont even know how to begin the problem (or are not strong enough yet). Very humbling. Despite you being alone on the wall, climbing is a team sport. Of course, you can head to the gym on your own. But climbing with your crew is a lot more exciting. Your friends sometimes can cheer you up a problem, which might have been “too hard” on your own. Generally climbers are a relaxed and friendly, supportive crowd. For me bouldering is the first sport I really enjoy doing in a long time. Lifting weights is just not for me. Give it a try!

The year 2019 has been a great year professionally, too. My job has shifted significantly towards software development. Which I love! A little bit of background seems in order: I come from a computational neuroscience background but do not have formal computer science training. Since science was not a viable option, I decided to find a job in tech. Given the shortage of software engineers, I found it surprisingly hard to get a foot in the door anywhere. Granted, my portfolio and engineering skillset was suboptimal upon graduation. With no job but bills to pay I made a living delivering food via bike and working in customer service. Though I don’t ever want to go back, I am grateful for the experience. I digress. Light at the end of the tunnel emerged as I finally landed a decent job in late 2018. The company is Bitwala a Berlin crypto-banking startup. Initially hired as trader, I slowly (but surely) drifted towards more and more development tasks. Which culminated in me creating a reporting engine from scratch (some keywords: Python, AWS, PostgreSQL). Deadlines were tight, I was overworked and stressed but delivered on time. Not only did I deliver, I created a robust and well maintainable piece of software. Apologies for boasting. Eventually, the company decided that I would be well placed within the engineering team. Starting 2020 I will be officially working (albeit mostly learning!) as DevOps/Backend engineer. Great times ahead!

Bitwala has an incredibly resilient and brilliant team. And it did not take long until I was working on a side project with two of them. What do we do? Trying to beat the digital asset markets, with algorithms. Another humbling experience. I won’t get into details but I’d like to share some learnings. Risk matters. As does human emotion, even with the machine doing the trading. No one algorithm can conquer the markets, it takes a well-balanced arsenal of complimentary algorithms. Don’t be naive, it is hard and frustrating. Just like every other venture worth persuing.

What have I learned in 2019? Working your ass off and neglecting everything else is not healthy. It sounds obvious, but it is all too easy to fall in the trap over and over again. Time spent, can never be recouped. Life without social media, I am looking at you Twitter and Facebook, is possible. Scratch that. Life is better without. Nourish the connections to people that enrich your life and mercilessly cut out people that have a negative impact on your life. Be forgiving. Have a mission (or vision if you like). Everyday, we make hundreds of decisions that determine what person we are going to be. A mission guides our choices and eventually brings us closer to who we want to be.

Speaking of which. My mission for 2020 is to get in better shape. As simple as that.