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Sandor Dargo
Sandor Dargo

Posted on • Originally published at sandordargo.com

2021: I feel I got everything I wanted and the next year will be even better

It's the end of the year so it's time to draw a balance between what happened and how I progressed at work and in life in general.

I deliberately speak about progress, because I think it's more important to talk about the distance I walked than the distance I still have to travel towards my ideal. Thinking about the gain is always positive, not like focusing on the gap.

Work

Let's start with the work. Not because that's the most important thing in life, but because after all, we talk mostly about software development on this blog.

Change is coming

Probably the most important change is that I'm leaving my team after 4 eventful years, even though only next February. Yet, I find it important to mention it this year for the following reasons:

  • I find it exciting
  • Despite the fact that move happens next year, the decisions were made this year

After working on a car reservation system, I'll focus solely on security-related services. I will work mostly but not solely with C++.

As I explained here, not only negative reasons can lead to a team change. Ideally, you change when you are in a comfortable position and you can choose the best fitting team.

I'm in an ideal situation right now.

I keep working from home

I got into the pilot program of the full remote workers at my company. I come to the office once a month based on my agreement with my senior manager.

Otherwise, I work from home. Actually, I'm not sure if I could work as a digital nomad within France or I'm supposed to work from the same place within the country, but I don't even care.

With the kids, I'm quite limited in terms of mobility and I enjoy a fixed routine and workplace.

I just prefer not working from the office.

It's not all black and white. There are a couple of advantages of working from the office, one is that I walk more during the day, something I should probably change and the other is that there are some corridor discussions mostly about work that is useful.

Otherwise, I don't find it difficult to keep in touch with colleagues even from home and I definitely prefer not to waste time in the traffic, to eat home with my wife and to be more around my kids in the morning and late afternoon.

A big test of full remote work is going to be next year when I'll have to find my place at a new team. So far I can say that I would never ever choose another job that is not full remote.

I got the promotion I was looking for

I really received everything I wanted from my work this year. I'm a remote worker now (have I mentioned that? :P), and more than that, I got promoted to become a principal engineer. That was a plan I told my management a few years ago and something I wanted to achieve before I turn 37.

During the early summer of 2020, I put a reminder for a year after in my calendar. It said that you are ready to become a principal engineer.

Five days later after the reminder went off, I got officially promoted.

In my upcoming book, The Seniority Trap I write about that you shouldn't aim for status, but for growth, so what I said here might sound controversial.

What matters is what you see in a promotion. By the time I got there, I didn't see the status. In fact, I still don't always introduce myself as a principal engineer, I sometimes only say, I'm a developer.

There are two things that matter in the promotion:

  • I do things I've wanted to do
  • I could sell them in a way that led to my recognition.

And obviously, I'm not set now with the status. I don't stop, I'd like to grow further. The promotion was only a key to opening more doors.

Work outside work

Work outside work? What does that even mean?

I could claim that I do my hobby here and it would be true up to a certain level.

Writing, sharing knowledge, going to conferences are my hobbies, but it clearly reached the next level and it's not just a hobby anymore. Given that I spent on writing and making presentations more than 10 hours of my free time a week, sometimes way above 15, it became a bit more and I hope to turn it into something that can sustain me later on.

Conferences

This year, I had the chance to speak at 6 different conferences, clearly a new personal record.

While most of these were online, and I didn't physically travel a lot, they provided a great opportunity for me on many different levels.

  • Presenting at a conference requires lots of preparation. It improves not just your knowledge, but your discipline too.
  • It helped me to learn from others too. Whenever I presented somewhere I got free admission and in most cases, my company provided me the free time to participate.
  • It also helped me to get to know some developers who I respect a lot
  • As on C++OnSea I delivered training as an instructor, I even made some money!

Blog growth

It's even difficult to recall the exact date and I'm lazy to look it up, but by now for about 3 and a half years, I've been posting every single Wednesday. Sometimes also on Saturdays.

This year, for the first time, I hit the 10k page views per month twice in a row.

It's not huge growth, I already had some 7k months in 2020, but it's a steady one.

Money made

This year, I published two e-books on Leanpub and a service that I also converted into an e-book. Combining that with what I made as a trainer, I made my first 2k Euros which is not an enormous amount of money, but it's a great start that I'm proud of!

I'm thinking about different ways to extend it. One of the is already turned into a course, the second is supposed to be published in a few days. Besides, I'm almost done with another book and I'm ready to start another. These are not going to focus on C++, they are more generic books.

The one that is almost ready is The Seniority Trap that focuses on the road to becoming a senior engineer and all the different ways you can make or break your journey.

The second one will try to be a book that merges a novel with a technical book. Similarly how Gene Kim did in The Unicorn Project of Yegor Bugayenko in Code Ahead.

Family

This is the most important. But probably not so much relevant in terms of this blog.

The kids

My daughter moved to the big section of kindergarten and she's getting better in French. She is also very brave and independent given her age. I remember when I was a little boy and I was supposed to sleep at my grandparents for the first time - who I loved and saw every other day -, they had to walk me home late in the evening.

We had no landline phone at that time, I imagine what a disappointment it must have been for my parents. My daughter slept over at her best friend already twice without any problem.

My son just started kindergarten and he is braver and braver. I'm really happy for him. I love that he tries new things, especially food. Even if he says "no I don't like it", trying new things is delightful.

I cook quite a lot and he spends lots of time with me in the kitchen. Who knows, maybe it will shape his career?

Are we still passionate travellers?

I guess it's not surprising that we didn't travel that much this year. Still, given the circumstances, we cannot complain. We continued discovering France, I think we really like the region between Arles and Narbonne, which we visited 3 times during the last few years.

On the beach

We even managed to drive back to Hungary twice to visit the grandparents and last time we could even visit some parts of the country which were on our bucket list.

Tokaj

I wish we'd never have a worse year!

How to continue in 2022?

I talked more than enough about my past year, but what about the next one?

Work

Obviously, I'd like to finish a couple of things before I leave. Documenting some tools I wrote is the bare minimum. I'd like them to be used in the future too.

I would also like to leave one of our components in better shape. It's one of the last ones with frequent core dumps and I'm on track to fix them.

I found a couple of classes holding resources but they don't follow the rule of 5 which is the cause of some double deletes and I want to fix them and I also want to leave the impacted classes in a more testable way.

But all this is really just until the end of January.

Join as a principal engineer and make an impact

In February I'm going to join my new team. Four years ago I joined my current organization as a wannabe senior developer. The expectations were not so high and I easily went beyond.

Now, I'm going to join the new team as a principal engineer and I know that expectations are totally different.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid. But I'm going to arrive prepared and with some plans to get up to speed quickly and help the team the best I can.

Joining the standardization work

My company is one of the few French companies that are part of the C++ standardization committee and I have the chance to contribute to this work in 2022. I'd like to understand what goes on in the C++ ISO group and obviously, I'd like to contribute somehow.

Even though I have some smaller ideas, I don't fully understand yet how to contribute. That's to be figured out.

Work outside Work

So how am I going to continue my work outside work? I will continue what I've been doing for more than 4 years, I'm continuing my blog posts on a weekly basis about C++ and more. What else do I plan?

Conferences

I plan to apply for conferences. That's what is in my power, the rest we'll see. Selection is not up to me.

I'm working already on my next talk on strongly typed containers for the Munich C++ user group that I will share around March.

Books

Last year I published 2 and a half books (Daily C++ Interview was not meant to be a book) and I'm close to publishing my next one The Seniority Trap.

It's something quite different from the previous ones, it's not about C++, it's about how I see the path to reach senior and staff engineer levels.

Excluding The Seniority Trap, I have plans for 3 books, but they are in a very early stage. One will be technical but for sure I won't finish it before Q3 2023. The other two should follow the style of The Phoenix Project, a novel that incorporates engineering best practices and horror stories.

I loved The Phoenix Project so much that I also want to write books in a similar style. After all, we should write books that we'd want to read, shouldn't we?!

Money

In 2021, I started to earn some money on the side. It's too much to ignore it, but not enough to really make something out of it.

In 2022, I'd like to push it to the next level and make monthly 2000 Euros online. That would make a 10x jump compared to my last months.

If I can achieve and sustain it, I can start thinking about going part-time and spend more time on doing the "work besides work."

Hobbies

The software engineering and knowledge sharing part of my job is definitely part of my hobbies therefore what I do as work besides work is part of leisure activities.

Though that's not all. I love to read, I devour books and I find it almost as important as eating. I handle it as such, I spend every day 50-75 minutes reading.

But if it's a necessity, can it be a hobby?

I don't have a clear answer to that.

I have some plans for the next couple of years though:

  • Finally, I want to master my guitar
  • With my employer, there are some opportunities to obtain a sailing boat license, something I fancy with
  • I pay a considerable amount of tax in France and in return I can go to some courses for free or at a reduced price. I want to learn more about wines and winemaking, and in the city, I live there is a school for that, so I might start that in 2022.

I still have to decide, obviously, I cannot pick everything. As both courses start around September, I have time to decide.

Conclusion

As I look back on 2021 I smile. There were difficulties both at home and at work that I don't really write about, but overall it was a great year. I wish I'd never have a worse one.

And you know what?

I'll work exactly on that! I should never have a worse year!

Happy new year to all of you, I wish you feel similarly about your life!

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