2018 Review

Another year done, so let’s review! At a high level 2018 was a pretty great year for me. To despite a pretty big set back early in the year, by taking consistent action I finished pretty strong and managed to live up to a lot of my potential.

For 2018 I decided to make the theme “Action”. I chose this because in the past I felt like I spent too much time in analysis mode, and that prevented me from actually doing.

So this year ever project that I started was viewed from the lens of “how do I make this move forward”. The results were pretty good!

The bad stuff first

I don’t like to focus on the negative aspects of the past year. It is such a cliched and unproductive thing to do, yet everyone on social media will be the first to tell you how bad the year was.

Whatever. Bad shit happens to everyone from time to time. How did you respond to it? That’s what matters.

For me, the year started off rocky due to being laid off from my day job at the beginning of February. Not an ideal way to get things going, but it did open some doors I didn’t expect…

New projects, new ideas

As I started a job search it occurred to me that I should make a list of what my dream job would look like. Doing this lead me to (re)discover the idea of remote working.

I absolutely despise sitting in traffic. For me, it induces stress like no other activity can. Why should I do this if it causes me so much non-joy?

So I began to look for remote-first jobs. To help me do this I wrote a small web app that I quickly realized could be expanded to help others in a similar situation. Thus Remote Matcher was born!

Side note: I eventually found the perfect remote job for me! Sadly I did not find it though Remote Matcher. That would have been too perfect! 🙂

I continued to take action throughout the year and launched a few more projects. None of them turned out the way I wanted them to, but as was pointed out to me by a good friend: I produced a lot of things this year and learned a ton in the process.

Travel

As a family we decided that we needed to do a little more traveling now that the kids are older and can appreciate things more. As a result, there was a ton (for me at least) of travel over the summer. 3 major trips, and several smaller one helped us broaden our horizons a little bit.

This coming year will probably see more local/regional travel.

The goals for 2018

I started off the year by making several goals/objectives for me to achieve. As the year progressed I visited these often and in one case refined the goal a little bit to make it more actionable and measureable.

Here’s a quick run down of what this looked like:

Business revenue

One goal was to increase business revenue to the point that it was a stable secondary source of income. For a variety of reasons, this didn’t happen.

I learned a lot, but overall I am disappointed by my lack of progress here. Every day is a new chance, and I am determined to reverse this in 2019.

Health

My health is becoming something I am paying more attention to as I get older. There’s a million benefits to this that I’m not going to go into other than to say this: Its easier to keep good health than to get it back.

To this end I significantly improved my exercising routine over last year. By the end of the year it was clear how I could take it to the next level, so that made setting a 2019 goal pretty straightforward.

(Of course right after I did that I caught the flu and was not able to do anything physical for the last few days of 2018. So 2019 hasn’t started as strongly as I would like, but hey that’s life. Adapt and move on!)

I also made a goal to meditate on a regular basis. This is one of those habits that gets dropped in time crunches, and after a year of reflecting on this I see it needs to be a priority.

Again, there’s a lot of reasons to do it, and for me they are pretty solid. Already this year I have been making the change to get mindfulness into my daily routine.

Quality time

One of the main reasons I chose to work remotely was to increase my time spent with my family. My kids are at the age where a little bit of guidance and presence will go a long way in shaping the people that they become as adults.

I’m happy to say that while I didn’t hit the metric I set for this goal, I did come really close. And this is one of those things where any work is good work, so overall I am really happy with this.

Results

Overall I did pretty well with my goals. I didn’t hit the numbers, but I was pretty consistent throughout the year in working on them.

Also, having the theme of “Action” really helped me. A few times a month I would look at my goals and see the word “Action” at the top.

As corny as it sounds, seeing that and thinking about it got me to take action more times than no.

And let’s face it, action is what we need if we are going to accomplish anything meaningful in life.

Looking ahead

In 2019 my goals are still focused on the same areas, just with more specifics on the actions I need to take to achieve them.

I did add one more area, reading.

I have come to the realization that what I read makes a huge difference in my mood and motivation. So this year I am adopting the habit of reading for 20 minutes per day of non-junk information. My outcome for this is to become more curious and knowledgeable about the world around me.

So this year’s theme for me is: unstoppable.

In the past I have let things get in my way or even cause me to backtrack. This year, as I face challenges, I will tell myself that I am unstoppable.

Much like the theme of “action”, I look forward to being “Unstoppable” as I progress further on my journey to a better me.

Wrapping up: Take action

2018 was a great year. Don’t let others negative opinions infect your view of your world.

2019 is going to be a great year for me. I’ve already decided this, and I’m not going to let external voices change my mind.

Things I’m thankful for

This past weekend was Thanksgiving here in the US. This is a time of year where we try to reflect on the things we are grateful for. Well, at least that’s what we are supposed to do. Some folks tend to use it as an excuse for excess…

But I digress. I’ve been on quite the adventure the last year so I thought this would be a good time to take stock and see where I’ve been. So given that here’s some things I’m grateful for.

Opportunities

This is a great time to be alive. There are so many things available to most people (especially here in the U.S.) and all that you have to do is reach out and take them. I’ve always known this, but have I always taken advantage of it? Perhaps not.

This year I worked harder to take advantage of things that came my way. Truthfully its pretty amazing what things are around you most of the time. Opportunities to learn, opportunities to earn, opportunities to just be involved. Going forward I’m resolved to say yes to more things.

Community

There’s an old saying that “no man is an island”. Being involved in communities is a wonderful thing. Finding your tribe is one of the greatest things you can accomplish. Be it a programming community (Python is great!) a neighborhood group, or a mastermind (I’ll have a lot more to say about that in the near future!), finding a group can make a world of difference to your outlook.

I’ve found a few communities this year and I feel it has helped me grow in a lot of different way. I’m very grateful for finally realizing that having a group (or several) is a great thing to have.

Family

Family is where its at. Big or small, blood or not, having a support system you can always count on is so important.

Find or make one. You need it. I’m grateful for mine.

Consistency

This year I began to explore the true meaning of consistency. Publishing this blog every week has been part of that consistency. Thank you for reading and helping me keep this consistent habit. 🙂

I’ve also been working to consistently reflect on things at the end of the week, or more frequently in some cases. This simple practice is very powerful, it is “forcing” me to be aware of things. Part of this reflection is thinking about things I’m grateful for.

Conclusion

This has been a pretty hectic year, but one that I’m very thankful for. What are you thankful for?

Learn a new programming language

In the world of software development there’s always something new popping up. New languages, frameworks, operating systems, databases, you name it. The challenge for a developer is to stay on top and ahead of these new technologies. It can be very tempting to give up and not learn anything new, but I want to propose that learning new things like a new language or framework can be very helpful!

Learning begets learning

The more you practice the art of learning something new, the easier it is to learn new things. This sounds like tautology, but it is true. Continue reading

More Experiments: Traffic thoughts

The greatest waste of time ever invented by humankind is sitting in traffic.

My traffic thoughts? What a waste of time.

Think about it. You are literally just sitting. There are very few things you can realistically do other than just sit. Talking on the phone is possible, but who wants to talk to someone who is stressed because of their sitting in traffic? Reading, exercise, playing… all of these things are unavailable to you because you have to wait for the person in front of you to move up a half a car length.

One day as I found myself sitting in this situation, I had an inspiration about how I could turn this to my advantage. I would try my hand at video blogging.

After a quick MVP video or two, I invested the $20 in getting a phone holder. Now when I get stuck in a traffic jam I hit the record button and bust out “traffic thoughts”.

My thinking is that I just pick a topic (usually inspired by a podcast I just listened to or something I’ve read recently) and just go for it.

I have no real set objective for this experiment. I record them when I hit traffic, and then I’m speaking I try to just go from the gut. When I get home I upload the videos to YouTube and do some minimal editing of the description.

Things I’ve learned while doing this:

  • Having a list of ideas (usually just a word or phrase) is absolutely necessary. If nothing else, it will keep you from repeating yourself.
  • As soon as you want to record something, traffic seems to disappear. I wish I understood this phenomenon. 🙂
  • You might think you could rant for hours about a topic. I have found that if I talk for more than 2 minutes that I feel less confident about my stance on the topic.
  • Its an interesting way to pass the time when you are literally sitting in traffic.

Be sure to check out my play list with all of these videos: Traffic Thoughts

 

Flow: Why I like writing tests

Tests are a contentious topic among programmers. Some really like them, others see them as a necessary evil. I think that they are important and if implemented correctly can improve both programmer productivity and code quality. Why? Flow.

Flow. It is the state of being so “in-the-zone” that things just happen. Actions are fluid. Progress is constant. Things are happening. This is where the awesome happens. So why doesn’t this happen more frequently?

Continue reading

Developer Mastermind

Recently I have been describing myself as “A developer interested in entrepreneurship”. And lately I’ve been hearing a lot about masterminds. Inspired by a few podcasts, I threw together an MVP to see if I could find other like minded people who would be interested in a developer mastermind. Lets dive into this fun little experiment!

Continue reading