I’ve never done one of these year in review things before, but I always enjoy reading them when others put them together, so I thought I’d give it a go.
Since I didn’t set any 2019 goals to revisit, here are some things that went well and didn’t in 2019.
What Went Well
- My wife and I had our second baby. Beatrix is almost 9 months old now. Raising a baby seems a lot easier the second time around. We certainly learned a few things from our first rodeo, but I think most of it is just that Bea is an easier baby.
- I became a team lead. If I had put together a list of 2019 goals, this would have been on it. Getting into management is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. I’m still figuring things out, but I’m really enjoying the challenge thus far.
What Didn’t Go Well
- Traveling with children remains a nightmare. We went to Oregon this summer and our flight home was cancelled for the second time in a row. We managed to get on a different flight the next day, but they sat us right next to the bathroom and no one slept at all on a cross country red eye. This probably isn’t the sort of thing that I should be dwelling on 5 months later in a year end review, but this is unquestionably the thing that went least well in 2019 and I will never stop hating American Airlines.
- Reading, Writing, or Exercising Consistently. Thomas Mayfield has been the most consistent and excellent at writing these year end posts of all of the people that I know, so this post is heavily inspired by his 2019 version. If I had put together 2019 goals, they almost certainly would have included goals around exercising, reading, and writing. I’ve failed to do any of these things regularly. Inspired by a Nate Berkopec tweet, I won’t be setting specific targets for these in 2020, but I am going to try to do them more consistently.
As much as I’d love to set specific weightlifting goals or even something like “go to the gym 3x a week,” I just haven’t been able to stick to those kinds of goals, so instead, my goal is to do some kind of exercise every day. On a good day, that will mean going to the gym or maybe doing yoga or my exercise bike. On a not as good day, that will be a set of pushups before I go to bed.
This is the habit that I have most struggled to form over the last several years. I have a lot of ideas of things that I’d like to write about and things that I’d wish that I’d written about. I currently have a grand total of 3 posts on my blog (this will be the 4th), but even with so little, I’ve had people thank me for writing them.
In my new role as a team lead, I have to find better ways to coalesce. This is particularly challenging because the team is remote and we don’t have a strong culture of working closely together or pairing. Writing is the most powerful tool that I have at my disposal, if I can just figure out how to use it.
Goodreads says that I read 5.5 books this year. That is actually better than I thought! Self high-five! Again, I don’t have a specific goal, but I now I feel a lot better about most things when I’m reading a book instead of Twitter or short circuiting my dopamine system with a game. I should really do it more often.
I also have a lot of things that I want to read. I have a ton of management books and I’d also like to read more novels and technical books.
So my goal for the year is just to have something that I’m reading and try to make it a daily habit. We’ll see where that gets me.
Form Deeper Friendships
If I only had one goal, this would be it. I don’t do a great job nurturing and maintaining friendships and it is, by far, the most important component to my overall happiness. I’ll likely use a variety of approaches and I’m not entirely sure how to measure this, so it will be interesting to look back on later.
Over the summer, when I first became a team lead, I set up a regular 1:1 every other week with my friend Mike, so get some mentorship on management. That has been excellent and I’d like to try to set up something similar with others.
Another aspect that I’d like to improve on is making plans. Dinner plans, play dates for the kids, travel plans, grabbing drinks. I really like to have plans but I really don’t like to make the plans. This is going to have to change.
Finally, I need to do better at reaching out and checking in with friends that I haven’t talked to in a long time. A lot of my best friends live in other cities. We don’t see each other much and we don’t have a reason to talk on the phone or text regularly, so we just don’t. This means that we go months or even years without talking at all.
This New York Times article is a good primer if you want to make a similar 2020 goal.