2019 Personal year in review - Theme: "Suck it up"

Introduction

2019 has been a rather challenging year for myself, family and friends. Normally, as I did last year, I would list the goals I had made for myself, then list the ones I had achieved, not achieved and changed. This was mostly technology related with a few exceptions. This year was different and as a result, this post will be a little different. However, it would be of little value to anyone if I didn't call out the learnings from the year, so that others may possibly benefit, relate or even be able to utilise in some way.

 

Technology

First and foremost, this is less about the technology. Tech has always been my interest, passion, skill in life but this year, it took a backseat for the most part. Still an important part, and I still love it, but a backseat nonetheless. To that end, I will list my general tech based goals, not the detailed list I usually come up with at the beginning of each year. These were:

  • Augmented reality / Mixed reality / Virtual reality
    • To me, this is exciting and a major growth area.
    • I certainly felt like I achieved this. I even managed to complete a VR version of my house to scale, and walked through it using my VR headset (this was a specific goal of mine)
  • Back to basics
    • Properly learning and creating things in PowerBI
      • Did this and created some reports I can re-use for company improvement metrics.
    • Some framework experience for the ones I had little exposure to.
      • Caught up on the latest react techniques for the most part.
  • Cloud
    • Google and AWS. I know Azure, but wanted to better know the others and get up to speed with the latest.
      • Completed an associate google cloud engineer course and am pretty happy with the learnings from that.
      • Also got into parts of AWS I had not touched before like "Athena" which showed me the good and bad of these AWS services.
  • Domain names
    • Wanted to aggregate the few I had into one provider which was pretty easily done but was just putting it off for this very reason for so long.
  •  Azure Cognitive Services

 

  • Things I listed but didn't do.
    • Blazor - do more than a hello world, small bit of learning, cursory type examination.
    • More on service mesh's.
    • Look at 'Parcel' and also look in detail at 'Flutter'

 

Context

Challenges

One of the main challenges this year was family/friends with cancer. One family member had 2 different types of cancer at the same time. One cancer was removed successfully and the other is also being treated with success. Another family member found cancer not so long ago, and went through some pretty painful chemotherapy before having a part of their body removed. Again a successful treatment.

Yet another family member had a part of their body removed due to cancer concerns, but luckily this proved non cancerous.

A family friend of over 40 years lost their battle with cancer and I attended their funeral on December 23rd, only a few days ago.

That is a lot of cancer related issues and it took a lot of mental, emotional and financial support to keep it all together. Continuing to be functional, to work, to provide stability, to assist and to keep positive.

My daughter was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and accepted it in her stride.

A friend lived with us for a while just to get back on their feet as they could not afford to live elsewhere

Another family member continued their battle with depression and anxiety, and smashed it out of the park in terms of achievements and going well and truly beyond their comfort zone so this is actually a massive positive but also was a challenge. There were quite a few mental health related challenges throughout this year for various people I know and in all cases, it is damn hard for them and those people who want to help.

The bushfires here in Australia have been horrendous. So many families affected, houses lost, people died, firefighters working tirelessly. It is currently over 40 degrees celsius outside with firefighters continuing to work to through this hell. I admire their efforts and am thankful they are doing what they do best. Everyone in Australia has been affected. Our national leaders are poor. This is listed not as my personal challenge but a nationwide one. I encourage you to at least donate to their cause.

 

Some nice positives

I was blessed with another 2 grandchildren this year, bringing the total to 5. I am slowly building my own consulting company through organic growth :-)

I mentioned a family member really working through their anxiety and depression issues to do something that is challenging for those without those afflictions, it made me proud and still does. It was a joy to see a massive difference from this same time last year. This was one of those times where years of working though things, have finally really shined through. This helped to validate the way we did things many years ago, when  we were so unsure of whether we are doing the right thing.

 

Unexpected wins

I worked with a team to create an augmented reality application that was showcased at the United Nations in August, which was an honour to be a small part of.That same application went on to become part of an exhibit at the Powerhouse museum, and is still there currently.

I did a talk on male mental health in November as part of Movember to raise awareness. However it was more about mental health in general and touched on people in my life whom have struggled in this capacity, 2 of which lost their battle with it and opted out of life, others are still struggling. This talk proved to be more important that I had ever realised and more difficult to deliver than I had anticipated. However, its potency and value were huge and I am glad I did it.

We put in place a detailed financial plan for our retirement. This included a Will, estimating our lifespan, and planning the finances accordingly (not so easy a task). We previously did investments in various ways just trying to get a portfolio that will reap benefits in the future. This time, we really identified the when, what, and how much of retirement with large accounting changes. Another start on a new campaign of our life.

 

What did I learn / conclusions.

There is so much more than this, some of it you learn like muscle memory more than words. However, here are some of the main points.

  • Sometimes, you have some bad times - just have to "Suck it up" and keep going.
  • The real challenges in life can take a long time - many years before bearing fruit or looking like you are making headway. Keep going. Tenacity is important as is belief.
  • All of this year made us/me tired - switching off was absolutely necessary. If you get good at that, your stamina for bad stuff increases by a large margin.
  • Tech stuff was secondary - still my passion but felt like I was fitting that in, between everything else. I became very good at maximising small amounts of time and not taking up all my spare time by "catching up in tech". Quality over quantity.
  • Software/tech fundamentals do not change and they are the key to building good systems. Not new frameworks, not Microservices, not monoliths, not service meshes, not containers. Learn the new tech and apply good fundamentals. Side note: The number of companies "doing microservices" just because is both funny and annoying. There have been many instances where this made things a hell of a lot worse, not better. This was not because of Microservices per se.
  • Cultivate good people and/or good situations. Remove the bad ones, avoid bad situations. This is for the benefit of you and your family.
  • Mental health - there is more of it than you realise. Asking "Are you ok" only has value if the question and intent have depth and are prepared for some shitty answers. Even helping those that are helping others, is still very valuable and massively helpful. Asking carers if they are ok is one way of helping.
  • As I write this, it is December 31, 2019 4:32pm. I went on holidays from work December 20th, and I have been sick ever since then, right up until now where I am still stick as a write this. This seems to reinforce the theme to just "Suck it up". Concentrate on what needs to be done and move on.

 

If you have read this far, thanks and I hope it has proved at least interesting, maybe even helpful. I hope you have a great year in 2020, see you there.

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