I’ve always felt that New Year’s “resolutions” were kind of stupid. If you’re going to do something, why not just commit yourself, instead of using some arbitrary date as some sort of starting point. Like the Nike add says, “Just Do It.”
That said, like most people, I invariably find myself at this time of year assessing the year that’s gone, and thinking about the one to come. Things that went well, things that didn’t. Things I could have done better.
So how was 2009?
In a nutshell? Weird. Probably the most unfocused I’ve felt in quite some time.
What went well in 2009?
Learning new Technologies
Professionally, picking up a new technology was something that I had the opportunity to do, and have made myself a much better developer because of it. Many of the principles I’ve been investigating and reading about I was finally able to take a stab at, both because I was the Team Lead / Architect, and because it was a totally new project. I implemented the new project with ASP.Net MVC, NHibernate, FluentNHibernate, Dependency Injection, custom validators, and a slew of other new approaches to projects, including bringing jQuery into my projects and clear use of patterns. I’m quite pleased with this.
Dad getting a lung transplant (the short version)
In June, my Dad was having quite a bit of trouble breathing due to his ongoing issues with Pulmonary Fibrosis. Three days before his 67th birthday, he was placed on a ventilator, and not expected to live. He had just become eligible for placement on the lung transplant recipient list, but was not yet technically on it. After 3 1/2 weeks on the ventilator, he was listed with the highest priority, and received a double lung transplant on July 4th at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. A whole new kind of Independence Day. I’m incredibly grateful to the donor and his family, whoever they are, as well as the doctors and staff at the hospital—they were truly wonderful people. I thank you. Thank you for giving me my Dad back, when I thought he was gone.
The story of how the whole process occurred is much longer and richer, but that’s a good synopsis.
Am I really allowed to be the person I am? Am I really a parent?
This year, Brandon was 3 and Samantha was 1. Total chaos everywhere, as toddlers are wont to do. Despite the occasional frustration and chaos, they’ve made my life so much richer. Plus, as a parent, you get to just play all over again. Brandon started pre-school, which is one of the most interesting experiences of all time, watching him grow.
Cathy and I managed to even get out a number of times on our own. It’s wonderful spending time with someone you love so much—especially when it doesn’t happen as often as it should.
I worked from home again in 2009, which is a blessing in that I can be “home” instantly, and not spending time in Atlanta traffic means that the time I get to spend with the family after work is much more relaxing.
What went poorly in 2009?
One of my work projects.
The project wasn’t in good shape when I joined it, but after 12 months of development, while there were new features, it was a bit of a bloated mess. Had I known at the start of that what I could have done technology-wise (see above), perhaps it would have been better.
The project cratered in April, which moved me on to my current one, so it’s a mixed blessing.
Working From Home
For the second year in a row, I’ve worked from my home office. It can be tough, as managing distractions is always a struggle, and figuring out how to separate work from life is difficult when they’re so closely related physically. It’s also a bit tough not having coworkers to interact with physically, whether in the next cubicle or at the coffee machine.
I’m embarrassed to say this, but perhaps doing it publicly will help me focus on it next year. I gained weight. Nothing crazy, but exactly the 30 pounds I lost in 2008 came back to haunt me. I knew it was troubling, but it wasn’t until looking at pictures of me from December 2008 that I realized how awful that was. Time to do better.
What’s in store for 2010?
There are quite a few things I have in mind for the new year. Here are a few.
Add to my Professional Development
Over the last year or so, I’ve improved quite a lot of my skill set, but it’s primarily in areas that I was already familiar (the web, via ASP.Net). One of the things I’m truly interested in and fascinated by is Sliverlight / WPF. I gots to get me some of that.
In addition, I’d like to be a better developer and architect. It’s time to fully embrace TDD. My goal is to use articles and examples, as well as follow Scott Hanselman’s advice on reading other people’s code.
I’m also going to try to concentrate on making more regular blog posts—and some with real technical content, finally.
Improve my Time Management skills
One of the difficulties with working from home is that without realizing it, the line between work and life becomes quite blurred, as it’s so easy to slip back into work mode when you should be thinking about something else. I have to find a way to “let go” of work as needed, and simply spend time on other things.
I also need to get on a schedule. Again, a difficulty in working from home is that time is less controlled, there aren’t any hard and fast rules like arriving at the office at a preset time, etc. I’m planning on remedying that.
My wife and family will also appreciate it, I’m sure!
Spend Time with my Aluminum Girlfriend
In 2003, I purchased the empennage kit for my airplane. Like many homebuilders, I’ve put my project on hold due to life’s necessities, and the project has been boxed for several years. It’s time to return to the project. All it takes is a few minutes each day, and hour or two, just to get it moving. And then my envy of Matt Burch can end. You’re my hero, man!
Spend Time in the Air
I actually had to look this up: It’s actually been three years since I’ve flown. I’m berating myself terribly as I write this, as for something so important to me, something I’m so passionate about—why haven’t I been out?
Time to remedy that. Time spent flying is therapeutic. And narcotic. And pleasant. I gots to get me some more of that.
Finding a Third Place / Social Connectedness
I need to force myself to attend the local user group meetings, the ASME meetings, etc., as well as find a third place to spend time.
Spend Time with Family
For a variety of reasons, it’s been pretty hard to spend any physical time with my side of the family for the last couple of years. We speak often on the phone, but I’d like the kids to get to know there is a bigger family out there, too—and to get to know them.
Make Some Progress on the House
Many of the plans we’ve had for making small improvements on the house are about due. It’s time to get the small projects moving. I’m not talking about moving walls or full renovations, just the smaller projects that need attention, like the bathroom floors, kitchen countertop, etc.
Improve my Health
Like I mentioned above…return to what I’d done in 2008. Walk more. Exercise more. Make sure I can keep up with the kids, especially as Brandon gets moving faster on his bicycle!
Live Writer tells me that’s over 1250 words to this point. Thanks for staying with me. I didn’t intend to make a novel out of it, but these things just flowed.
Goodbye 2009. Hello, 2010. I can’t wait to see what’s next! Happy New Year!