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Year in Review: Resolutions

The Year In Review:


Another year in the bag! And what a year it has been! Feels like thirty years have gone by, I think I forgot all about the New Year's Resolutions I started this year, until maybe last week.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane and see what I planned for myself / did for myself.

The “soft” (not measurable) resolutions:

  • Learn to love myself (MEETS / EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS): It's strange to say this year out of all years, but I don't think I've been happier or been at a happier point in my life than this year. I think it's in large part getting out of (what I think was) a work environment I wasn't a great cultural fit for, taking time off and resetting my emotional / mental state through a sabbatical, getting a job that I really like and finding my own voice, and most importantly going to psychotherapy and really getting some stuff off my chest. There's some stuff that seems bad, like the rest of 2020, but I think this year I've been climbing out of a deep hole I've dug for myself and it just seems like a part of the climb. It's also in large part due to the formation and maintenance of several key habits. I did use my habit tracker for at least the beginning of this year, and through Boss as a Service I submit daily affirmation emails that keep me repeating “I live in the best of all possible worlds. Everything I do today, I choose to do.” explicitly, and I've created an hourly journal where I track every 15 minutes of my day so I know my time is being used productively.

    We'll see what happens during 2021, but I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll be able to keep up this tempo.

  • Make others happy (MEETS / EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS): I think I've helped a couple friends through some tough moments this year (e.g. a good number of friends from college are now in medical school, and starting your medical career during a pandemic is always stressful), and I like to think I've been a good friend. At least last year, I remember friends trying to support me and me being all emotionally flabby, and this year friends starting to deflate here and there and me being supportive and there for them. I think in large part, this change comes from me being able to love myself, and having this self-love radiate outwards towards others. Some friends have drifted further apart, but more friend groups than I expected have stayed in some capacity (e.g. a group of college friends gather every Wednesday evening, another friend group for professional development gathering on Telegram, etc). It's also beneficial when going into a new workspace and creating positive first impressions. I think this is very much a positive development, and I'd like to keep the good vibes going into next year.

  • Find joy in the ugliness of life (MEETS / EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS): I think I've definitely succeeded in this regards, through some (I would say) relatively thorough planning ahead. After Trump won in 2016 I started stockpiling cash in my bank account like an insane man expecting things to go to shit at some point in time, and this was strengthened by my experience at my first company. So when 2020 finally hit, it was a liberating feeling of having been proven right and being ready (e.g. I had expected the government to completely botch a response to $SOME_BIG_BAD_EVENT and having no financial assistance for at least two years if not longer). With financials and social stuff taken care of, I could dedicate most if not all of my energy towards being happy and enjoying myself, which I could do because I had so deprived myself in years past the smallest things could spark joy. So I could micro-dose on natural endorphin / serotonin increases by doing things like getting takeout or eating meat in order to regulate my emotional state. It's not all scientific, and I expect that as 2020-like years becomes the new normal for life going forwards I would have to downscale some of these pleasures in order to maintain some of that balance, but I've found a great deal of success with my current approach. This, in addition to doing things like always reframing thoughts/sayings/actions in a positive manner, addressing stressors with my therapist and support network as they come along and nipping them in the bud, help keep the abyss at bay.

The “hard” (measurable) resolutions:

  • Build the software products along my personal critical path towards personal improvement (PARTIALLY MEETS EXPECTATIONS): So I didn't end up building the apps I wanted to build (the digital tele-Rolodex and the habit tracker), but I did end up building the “on-prem Firebase” proof-of-concept and gained a lot of skills there, plus learned a good deal of DevOps, and gained a lot by building out my own cooking website, ukulele progress tracker, and hourly journal (and email report tracker). This, in addition to other things like hoarding some mapping data in case society collapses and I need to find my family back in Michigan by walking from D.C. using an on-prem maptile server on my laptop. I think I'm well on my way to replacing the cloud-native, proprietary services I use with services I build and maintain myself.

    Next year, I might expect to build out e.g. my own photo gallery service syncing data to S3 (or S3 cold storage), my own spreadsheet app sitting on PostgreSQL, and maybe a smattering of other projects akin to https://tinyprojects.dev/.

  • Find a job that I like (MEETS / EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS): Finding my current place of employment was a huge relief off my chest. Before MotoRefi, I didn't think a good tech company in D.C. was possible, or that there were any good companies anywhere. Thank God for my fellow coworkers. I don't have to feel like I need to keep running, I don't have to uproot my life and go to some expensive tech hub in order to feel like I'm at the cutting edge, and I can learn things on the job as opposed to having to learn the wrong thing at work and then relearn the right thing after hours (I can actually relax!!). Thank God.

  • Get my first kiss (DOES NOT MEET EXPECTATIONS): I did go on one virtual date (as opposed to five dates last year), but this wasn't something I ended up pushing hard towards, nor something that I felt was feasible this year. I'm not quite sure what my dating strategy will be going forwards, but I anticipate that it will become more and more ancillary to other priorities (e.g. speaking at a tech conference and meeting somebody there, going to an in-person sports league and meeting somebody, doing cooking classes or ukulele classes, etc). As long as I keep putting myself out there and don't shrink away from the world, that's as much as I can do.

In addition, some aggregate statistics I think help describe this year:

  • Commits over the past 52-week period as of 2020-12-26T15:32:15.272282: 3,957 commits on GitHub from 2020/01/01, and (2633 + 27 + 49 + 13 = 2722) on GitLab over four projects started this year for a total of 6,679 commits. I had originally wanted 10,000 commits but these things are just so easy to fudge (e.g. most of my commits are for my hourly journal, which are mostly one-liner changes).

  • Books read: 21 as of 2020-12-26T15:57:14.766652 (and I'm not sure if I'll be stacking up these numbers at the end of the year like before so this should be a more or less accurate tally). I've heard that most CEOs read something like 50-60 books per year, and of course Warren Buffett reads something like 500 pages per day, and I'm not at that level yet. But I think there's a good mix of meaty subjects that change my worldview (like Taleb's “Incerto” series), and fun books that I enjoy engaging with.

    What's surprising is that this tally is more than the 19 books I've read in 2019, when I thought I should have been reading more, though less than the 31 books I've read in 2018 and 29 books I've read in 2017. I think I only really tried in the first half of this year, otherwise I've been watching a good number of TV shows and such.

  • I think this year I started using RescueTime, because I switched away from macOS to Ubuntu and lost the usage of Timing.app. In terms of statistics through RescueTime, as of 2020-12-31T13:58:37.200101:

    • 1,113h on software development
    • 746h on utilities
    • 685h on entertainment
    • 379h on communication and scheduling
    • 161h on uncategorized

    Here's a picture of that report!

    year_in_review

So, yeah. Overall, a pretty good year me. Actually better than most years. Actually, fantastic, I think this is the best year I've had probably for the last ten or fifteen years, by a significant margin. A large part of me hopes every year is like 2020. But that's not nice for other people, and years change anyways, so I wish instead I can keep riding this choo-choo train.