2019 Recap

2018 Goal Recap

  • Less travel - the upcoming arrival of our baby girl has made this one really easy for me. I told all my clients, truthfully, that I don't want to travel very far when my wife is in here 3rd trimester. I am also not going to be travelling after she's here because my wife needs me home. My Raleigh client has me onsite 2 to 3 days a week in 2018, and the rest of the time will be spent remote.

    • I'm happy to say that in 2019, I significantly reduced my travel. I was in-town more, but that didn't neccesarily mean I was home more. Even when I was home, a lot of the time that meant I was in my home office.
  • Better time management - I cannot realistically continue to do late-night marathon code sessions. It's just not sustainable. I am planning to be very disciplined with my time-management in 2018. I'm also considering ways I can be held accountable when working from home on open-ended projects. Maybe I'll start live streaming myself in the office working?

    • Surprisingly, I've actually gotten better at this, mostly because of constraints around having kids. It's just not feasible to work all night, and then be woken up at 6AM with a crying baby. I still had a few last-minute crunches, but overall it has been much better.
  • Less Coffee - I've gone a little overboard on the coffee and really need to cut back. In January I'm going to begin my journey.

    • After my trip to Korea, I actually kept this up for a while. I was all the way down to single cold-brew a day, but now I'm back up to old levels. It seems to be correlated with alcohol too. If I have a glass of wine at night, I really need that extra caffeine to get going. This turns into a cycle where I sleep restlessly because of the increased caffeine.
  • Make 20% more, again. This will be interesting. I'm close to hitting a hard-cap based purely on the fact that there's only so many hours in the day. Even with the reduced travel, I will need to scale in other ways to accomplish this. I'm thinking productized services and possibly hiring another developer.

    • I went the development / expansion route, a year late. 2018 was flat, 2019 saw a 35% bump. Hired a few guys, fired one. Still not sure if it all was worth it.
  • Work on the business rather than in the business. e-myth stuff.

    • Yep, but everything has tradeoffs
  • Spend time with my wife and new baby. The only way I can achieve this in the way I want is to have extreme discipline with my time-management. ​

    • 2018 went really well, and then I got bored and hired a team in 2019. Still working on the transition to management.
  • Continue learning. This year I want to deep-dive on .NET Core, CSS grid, and React.

    • Only managed .NET Core, but this blog is React and flexbox, so that's something.
  • Launch something. I want to launch something public-facing of my own. I do it for clients all the time, I should do something for myself.

    • Nope ☹

2019 / Early 2020 recap

I just migrated by blog to Next.JS and netlify and had to convert all my posts to markdown, re-reading them in the process. Reading my 2017 recap post was particularly interesting and resulted in a mix of feelings as I looked through my "goals". I'm proud of what I accomplished in 2018, 2019, and early 2020, but there's definitely some regrets. I think perhaps my biggest regret is that I jumped so hard into building a team and expanding, that I didn't stop to consider the tradeoffs. And there's always a tradeoff.

  1. Managing projects and the team
  2. Expanding your individual technical skills
  3. Being involved at home
  4. Fitness and personal well-being

The above ordering is exactly how I prioritized in 2019. Managing the team, shipping code, lining up projects all took a front-row seat. And make no mistake, we did well. We shipped several huge projects last year, I really leveled up technically, and I made more money than ever. This all came with some serious downsides. Multiple all-nighters, I'm 10 lbs heavier than I'd like to be, I wasn't as available at home as I'd like. Tradeoffs. It might be because really I'm doing 2 or 3 seperate jobs: PM, Developer, Sales.

May 2020, my son was born while we were stuck at home because of the pandemic. Interesting times. I'm so lucky to have been able to work from home and take a generous amount of time off, but it has been trying to say the least. Most notably, because of nature of my job, it's basically impossible to truly step away. Yes, I may be "away", but my phone is still buzzing. I may have built a team around me, but I'm still pivotal in all operations. That's probably my fault, if I'm honest. I did my best to empower others, but at the end of the day they didn't take the reigns and I ended up with a backlog of fires to put out every evening ... which gets exhausting. Combined with the fact that I have to be busy selling and keeping the pipeline full, just really tough.

2020 Goals

  • Reboot blogging, but focus on deeply technical topics. My few technical posts have always gotten the most traffic. I should double-down with a focus on things that aren't easily found online.
  • Better sleep / less caffine. Take 2 on this, I may have to stop drinking completely to make it happen. I've found there's actually a downside though. The 6 months in 2019 that I stopped drinking, I found it absolutely impossible to turn off. Those 6 months were perhaps the most productive of the past 10 years, but I'm going to need a release mechanism. Maybe hiking or meditation. Something.
  • Deeper dive into work that has more outsized leverage. What I mean is, I'm unhappy working on code that's being used by 100 people max. At one of my clients, my code is being run by 30k users. That's more like it. I'm really interested in the unexplored problem spaces (for me) around scaling that up to 300k or 3 million.
  • Get a new job to more quickly get the point above this one?

I'm struck with the fact that the items I really want to focus on from my priorities above are 2, 3, and 4. That leaves item #1 (Managing projects and the team) completely on the table and I'm left wondering what to do about it. Covid + parental leave has also caused my entire backlog to evaporate, save for one big client with a yearly contract. All good things must come to an end, but I'm completely opposed to letting a good developer go because I'm ready to personally move on. It just seems so selfish. I'm not sure what to do, other than just complete honesty. Let him know my plans, the situation about the backlog and what I'm doing to line up additional work, and assist him with interviewing while keeping him gainfully employed in the interim. Meanwhile we'll just burn through the rest of the contract in Q3.