2022 - A renewed optimism for the future
Writing this post ended up being a lot harder to start than previously thought. A big part of this was due to the fact I didn't actually write a 2021 post for goals in the new year (cue the laughs). As such, I have nothing concrete to compare this year to as far as goals are concerned. The other part causing a delay, is that I have just been a bit lazy as the year has closed out.
So here are the goals I "think" I would have made for 2022, but in 2021, instead of today in 2023:
- Work towards becoming a product engineer
- Travel more, including with family
- Be more creative - be it photography, writing, painting, etc
- See and be around family more
- Be a good father and husband
Goal 1: Completed - A new career
A big goal of mine, for at least the past few years, was to make a slight career change. While I really enjoy quality assurance and test automation, it just became less fulfilling for me than it used to be. Make no mistake, I am forever grateful to the people I have met and worked with in the QA field. Without them, I wouldn't have made a career in quality, peaking with a Staff Test Engineer role with M1, as of March. This company would become a direct route into what consider a dream role.
Writing and maintaining tests that no one outside of the quality team looked at had started to eat at me a bit. I have always been a somewhat creative individual up to this point in my life be it musically, artistically, or programatically. As a result of this natural inclination, I decided I needed to make or work on things that people actually use (and hopefully enjoy using).
The past 5 years or so, I have had the opportunity to work with Java and it's related languages Groovy and Kotlin. Given that Kotlin is the recently official language of the Android platform, it felt natural to delve deeper into the modern construction of mobile apps.
The self-imposed course of study took me through almost two courses on Google Developers site and also a read through Head First Android Development (3rd edition). The best part was that this included multiple ways of learning: reading, watching, and hands on coding. While there was some overlap, the repetition was immensely beneficial in the long run. In addition to studies, I took detailed notes along the way using Obsidian.md and wrote a few posts about the experience.
Though I know my studies are far from over, they have paid off this year, and I am now a product engineer, developing the Android app for M1! I have learned so much in the past 6 months on the job alone, that I wouldn't have experienced as easily via just studying. I have been able to work with other senior engineers on a team, on a hackathon team solo, and on some other smaller projects on my own. It has been a wild ride!
Goal 2-4: Completed - Living, loving life again
Another hefty goal would have been to travel more, as previously prevented by a pandemic. This year more than ever was a chance for the family and I to travel multiple times to places that we all really enjoyed!
Disney World - twice!
As a child, I always enjoyed Disney movies. Oliver and Company, Aladdin, Lion King... you name it, my siblings and I most likely have seen it many times. I was also lucky enough to have parents and grandparents that took my to Disney World a few times. Another stroke of luck? I married someone who interned at the parks and also enjoys similar entertainment!
As such, it was great to finally introduce our kids to the parks. The kids had a blast! Sure it rained the first day we were there, but we were able to hit all of the high points and then some! Their highlights were, "building their BB droids, the Tower of Terror, and Guardians of the Galaxy Galactic Rewind."
The wife and I loved it so much, we went back the following month to celebrate 20 years since she was an intern there, with all the friends she made then. It was much shorter than with the kids, but packed in a ton of memories. We enjoyed the Food and Wine festival around the World Showcase at EPCOT and then spent the next day chilling by the pool. It was so much fun!
Spain - honeymoon finally!
In 2019, I proposed to my wife in Hawaii, so in early 2020, we travelled to India to acquire outfits and decor for the ceremony planned later that year. As the story goes, our wedding and honeymoon plans were all derailed. Not long after our return, everything went into lockdown mode. Things eventually turned out well, but we never went on a honeymoon since travel was very difficult until after the dark times.
This year we were lucky enough to travel to Spain! This was my first time to Europe! It was a beautiful country full of rich history, mass amounts of sangria, and tasty meals. We were able to visit three cities and ride three trains during the trip.
In reviewing this year, I've noticed a lot of my goals then to overlap. Taking trips enabled me to really explore photography. As a result of this trip in particular, I took about 1600 photos. When will I ever find time to edit them all?
Another overlap is related to family. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have a hard time staying in contact with family, so I won't detail it much here. A amazing part of this trip was the chance to see my great-uncle and cousins in Madrid, whom I hadn't seen in 20 years! It was wonderful to see them and have dinner two nights with them!
Trips with friends
We like traveling so much we tend to share it with friends, or family. This year we took two trips with our travel buddies Eva and Russ to both Washington DC, as well as a road trip from Boston up into Maine. This pattern will continue into 2023 as we already have two possible trips in the works!
The DC trip was another time this year when I had seen a family member I hadn't seen in 20 years (Spain being the second time actually). This time it was my other great-uncle's daughter we were able to have dinner and drinks with. Overall, DC was a nice weekend get away with multiple photogenic places and filled with fun memories!
Our roadtrip to Maine was also quite fun. We arrived in Boston and were picked up by our buddies in their sweet new EV! That car was so quiet, and fun to drive! We all love the north east, and due to this, we now have a recurring theme... I took a ton more photos here, and in DC. I am great at taking them, but super lazy when it comes to editing and posting them for others to enjoy! I think the best part about this trip was staying in a different Airbnb every night. From Boston to Portland, to Bar Harbor; each one was so different from the others!
Weddings upon weddings
We were invited to three weddings this year, and two of them required travel. The destinations were Florida and then the New York/New Jersey area.
The sunshine state is always a fun, short trip. As you can see we liked it so much we went two additional times after this! The best memory of this trip was that the venue was so far away (and rideshares were few and far between), that we actually missed the ceremony! We arrived literally 3 minutes after it! In all seriousness, my cousin looked beautiful and it was a fun time hanging out with family in the Floridian sun.
The wedding in NJ was for my wife's close friend from the same Disney internship group, and as I've learned, most events with them are meant to be remembered. For me, I ended up having issues with medication (get rekt anxiety!), but I tried my best to not let that impact those moments. From too much fun resulting in a messy bus ride, to a child getting their first "Ohana" shirt, it was an epic wedding!
(Wow, this is getting long)
Goal 5: A family guy
Inklings of this goal are also scattered within the previous section but I felt that my core family unit needed it's own call out. The pandemic really changed what it means to be a family to me. I learned that I can't just be the one that makes the money and keeps the roof over my family's head. While that is a big part of it, being a good husband and father requires more.
At the onset of 2022, I was a lucky person to be making a good salary, and to have been retained twice by a company when many others were let go. As a result, I have dealt with survivor's guilt mostly in my own way throughout 2021. Given that, I knew I needed to look deeper into my role as a "family guy".
This year, I have tried to be more available for my family. In our wedding vows, we pledged to be each other's cheerleaders. While there are times that I know she doesn't understand what I am working on, she still provides an ear for me. I have continually tried to do my best in this regard for her. She is such a hard, intelligent employee and I want her to taste the success I have in 2022 this year!
I have also tried to become more for my kids. As such, I have attended as many school events and allowed for them to be a part of as many extracurricular activities as time allows for. When they are with me, I try my best to let them be my main focus. As stated, this year we took at least one big trip with them, and additionally, we provided for a few smaller local experiences.
I have a ways to go. I know I am not perfect, but I keep thinking back to my reading of Atomic Habits. A 1% improvement daily has a compounding effect on the future. I also know that there is room for more than a 1% improvement a day in a single thing. As such, I know there were a few short comings to expand on.
Even though I was able to work on some of these goals in part, I didn't do as well as I'd have liked to. After all, we are on this Earth for a limited time, and I'd like to believe that I used it to the best of my ability. In hindsight I know this to not be fully true.
I definitely took a lot of pictures this year, but I didn't edit or share as many as I would have liked to. I have a powerful camera in my pocket most of the time, so my DSLR internal battery craping out was not a great excuse. Do I get better at taking less, but more meaningful shots or is taking a lot and sifting through them for the good ones the name of the game?
At first, I was on a roll for a very short time writing and posting to this blog in 2022, but in the end I fell quite short of actually contributing anything of substance. The posts were all my summaries and experiences with a book reading I was doing for learning coding. In hindsight, none actually tried to truly explain anything or provide much in the way of value to readers. While this was not really a true goal of mine in Jan 2022, and came much later in the year, I'd still like to do better at it.
As far as family goes, I'd like to say I saw them more than in the past. While it was true I was able to spend more time with my kids, as a parent, it is never enough the older they become. There are still times when I don't feel like the time spent with them is high enough quality. More thank likely I am being to hard on myself, but I desire kids that are interested in being a part of my later life. As we all should know, no one is perfect. Maybe I just need some reminding that being a father as well as a husband, is something that we are constantly learning and growing into well into our later lives.
I am a jack-of-all-trades at heart, and I feel I have always identified that way. So I am constantly juggling interests and focuses throughout the year it seems. When its streaming, my painting lacks. When it is reading, my gaming lacks.
Thankfully, I am more or less okay with this pattern. I have learned how to prioritize the most important and valuable things higher, like learning Android or my family. That strategy paid off a ton this year, and looks to pay off more into the new year.
Stay tuned for more! Coming up next is an actual set of goals for 2023!