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A year without goals (2020 retrospective - 2021 resolutions)

dvddpl profile image Davide de Paolis Originally published at dvddpl.github.io Updated on ・5 min read

It´s that time of the year, and even if the internet is bloated with posts about new years resolutions or previous years retrospectives, I need to keep track - publicly or not - of my goals, my success and failures, and my expectations for the next year, hoping that during 2021 Covid will not be too much in the way.

Public speaking

One of my goals was to finish the entire Pathways at Toastmasters and then hold a speech at some convention or a presentation at a meetup by the end of the year.

Beginning of 2020 I applied for a Call for Paper for Hamburg Serverless but I wasn´t selected. I could have tried to submit some other CFP for some other online conferences, but I wasn´t so motivated because my main goal was facing stage fright!

The fact that we could meet only via Zoom slowed down my progress at Toastmasters too. I really enjoyed this experience because the focus shifted to having professional behavior during online meetings: proper lighting, proper camera angle, speak while looking at the green dot of your camera and not somewhere on the screen, muting and unmuting at the right time, purposefully using hand gestures but without covering your face, dealing with presentations and screen sharing will still engaging the audience with your speech - all this is now even more relevant but still so much undervalued.
Another reason why I didn´t give many speeches was my involvement in the Club Board as VicePresident of Public Relations. There is a lot going on behind the scenes of a Toastmasters club and that took a lot of my free time.
Still happy because I had the opportunity to take on new challenges and improve my leadership and management skills.

Even though I did not manage to hold a tech speech at a meetup, right before the second lockdown, I managed to have a bit of a stage fright, and hold a tech workshop.

My wife volonteered me - for a scratch workshop in my kid´s school.

I dunno if speaking in English about AWS or Node in front of 50 developers could have been more terrifying than explaining basic concepts of programming and how to build a basic game with Scratch to 25 4th graders, in german, but I am very proud of doing it, and amazed how my son not only helped me but took over very often in a very professional manner!

Scratch Workshop

Career

This year I worked on a couple of very interesting and challenging projects, all based on Serverless and multiple AWS services. Despite the constant learning on the job, I did not manage (for the second year in a row) was finishing a UDEMY course ( and then proceeding with the certification ) to become AWS Solutions Architect.

On the other hand, I was promoted Technical Lead of the team where I was working as a Senior Software Engineer, and that kept me quite busy.

Remote work

Of course, what we experienced this year is not just remote-work, rather working while quarantined. And that makes a lot of difference.

But... I love it!
I really hope I won´t be back in office ever ( if not, maybe twice a month, to keep up the social aspect with many colleagues from other departments)
I am way more productive, I can cut down distractions and optimize every minute of my work schedule.
Especially because I managed to create my own working TimeZone: I always used to be an early bird, but it was not always possible to enter the office before 7 or 7:30. When working from home, I can switch on my laptop at 6:00 AM sharp, and by the time of the daily standup - when many colleagues join with still just-outta-bed faces - I already have achieved so much and I am almost halfway through my workday.

Basically, I can code for almost 4 hours straight without any interruptions or distractions on slack, and then keep the rest for meetings and supporting my team.

If you also consider that I can also cut out some time to pick up my kid from school and have lunch with him... It´s awesome, and have the afternoon to read, play and exercise.

A huge improvement in my private life.

Of course, while the kids were homeschooling was a bit tougher, with their interruptions and having to support them with their ( and their teachers) digital transformation.

Work-Life balance

Something i still need to figure out is managing the off time. It is very hard to stop working when it´s time, since I don´t have to commute... I always feel it´s no big deal if I work longer, or go back and check slack or emails after working hours.
Working from home also affected working on other projects or blogging.

One thing is coming home, greet your family and then turn on your pc to blog or experiment with something, a different thing is closing your work project because your workday is finished, and open your personal project because your free time started, same pc, same desk, same room... it can mess up with my brain and motivation.

Reading

I have a goal of about 20 books per year. But I realized that I find it hard to accomplish it now that I spend a lot of time reading blogs and watching video lessons... Anyway, even though I read only half what I planned, they were all books in German, so I am quite satisfied.

Sports

Due to lockdown climbing gyms were closed almost half of the year, but I managed to keep up the motivation and train a lot at home anyway. Finally learned Rope skipping and did a crazy amount of HIIT.
On the few occasions of climbing outside, I still managed to achieve my goal of climbing a route of 6B /7 UIIA and did my first Via Ferrata.

So what´s up for 2021?

Solutions Architect is still on the list
and so is Speaking at Conference/Meetup
Becoming a better Tech Lead: the challenges as a tech lead are different from those of an individual contributor. I want to consolidate and improve my role in terms of People Skills while possibly keep on working on bigger projects.

I don't have many other goals set for next year.

Actually after lots of discussions with my wife and some good old friend/colleague.

I have the goal of setting fewer goals.

I need to learn to relax, live in the moment, appreciate what I have, and enjoy it to the fullest. It´s not that I am not happy with my life or grateful for it, but in the past 5-10 years, I have been a bit too obsessed with personal growth and improving myself that often I was frustrated if I could not work on some project (personal or professional) or did not achieve what I aspired to.

I could not enjoy what I was doing because I was always thinking about something else and I could not enjoy my achievements because I was immediately thinking about what to do/achieve next.

I guess learning to be more mindful will be my greatest challenge for the future.

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