A Retrospective on 2018

Written on January 1 in the year 2019.

In scrum one of the common things to do is run through a retrospective of a just-completed sprint. That is where I came up with the title for this entry. Creative, I know.

In many ways I felt like 2018 never really got started. I think one of the biggest challenges I had was really focusing in deeply on any one thing. And, before I knew it, the year was over. That being said, it wasn’t a total loss, as Jenna and I created some great memories. In March, we surprised her mom by showing up in Boston to celebrate her retirement. In June we went on a road trip and visited Zion and Yosemite, both of them breath-taking. In November, I had the opportunity to visit a dear friend, and finally in December we were able to spend Christmas with my famiy. Summary aside, lets talk about some things that worked, and some things that didn’t work for 2018.

Things That Didn’t Work

  1. Doing more than 1 set of ‘100 Days of Code.’ I finished one round of this early in the year, from January to mid April, and by the time it was over I was pretty burnt. I tried to do another round later in the year, but just couldn’t do it. Spending a minimum of a hour a day writing code that is not work related for 100 days is much more exhausting than I first anticipated.

  2. Spending 15 minutes per day studying mandarin. I started this and lasted about 6 months but eventually broke down. I think I eventually hit a wall and just wasn’t able to consistently keep up after that. I think a course more focused with clear goals is something that would have helped.

  3. Reading one book per month. Yeah…I think the biggest thing I learned about myself with this is that I really need physical books to read effectively. For me, it’s just too easy to get distracted when trying to read E-books.

  4. Launching three personal projects. Initially I thought this was doable if these projects were each given four months of time. Four months is still pretty reasonable in my mind, but after the first one I felt pretty burned out. I still managed to get two off the ground though. This blog, and another project called dailyhoops.io.

Things That Did Work

  1. A better mastery of Javascript. In the first 100 days of code I did, I built several projects using only vanilla javascript and es6. These included a todo app (classic right?), and a blog platform. Doing routing in vanilla javascript as well as things like data binding gave me a better appreciation for how much heavy lifting frameworks do, and a greater understanding of what is going on behind the scenes.

  2. Adding $5K to the emergency fund. This was a pretty easy thing to do because I chose to spread it out over the course of the entire year instead of taking one big hit. Weekly, recurring transfers from a checking into a savings account made this painless.

  3. Learning some new technologies. I spent a decent amount of time learning Go. I like it. It’s much different than Javascript and is relatively intuitive. I also spent a good amount of time sifting through a lot of the products that AWS has to offer. 2018 was also a year in which I spent a lot of time bulding things with Vue. This blog is actually built with a framework that’s built on top of Vue called Nuxt. Vue is super easy to pick up, very flexible, and feels more like what the successor to OG angular should or could have been.

Thoughts On 2019

I know it’s partially because of the time of year, but this is the most excited I’ve been for the start of a new year in a long, long while. In creating my goals for this year, a big theme was joy. I asked myself the question “what are some things that have brought you the most joy in the past?” I let that thought guide my creation process and came up with a list of goals including:

  1. Net $6000 in flipping alone. I did a lot of this several years ago and it was something that enjoyed so much I have no idea why I stopped doing it. The goal here is to try and isolate all transactions and expenses to Paypal and Venmo. Using any profit to build a bigger bank role.

  2. Create an online shop for photo prints. If you know me, then you may know my history with photography. I used to do it professionally. After I stepped away from it, for the longest time I couldn’t even take a picture without feelings of anger or frustration. 2018 was the first year in which some of those old hurts began to mend.

I decided a few years ago to stop making resolutions and instead focus on goals. The key difference, and the reason resolutions don’t often pan out, is the work involved. Goals inherently give you something to work toward, entailing some sort of growth process. Resolutions suggest an immediate change, without often taking into account unforeseen challenges or side effects. I’m not sure what 2019 will hold but I’m ready to jump in and do work.