2021: Annual Review

It’s Annual Review time, starting where 2020 ended regarding what I was working toward:

So let me reflect on that list, as well as whatever else came up.

What went well in 2021?

Book Reading: Daily reading habits have been maintained all year. I’ve gone through several books on a great variety of topics. But most importantly, I believe I’m getting better value from my reading habits.I started the year thinking of re-reading at least one previous book every month. Looking at my notes I see that was too ambitious: one book every other month is what I did, and am happy with it.

Here’s a big highlight for me in this area: the internal AppDev community at Improving started book clubs this year and I love it!! I’ve joined 7 clubs and led 2. We’ve covered books both on Technical and Soft Skills, and I personally got a lot out of my reading habit through this experience.

Sharpening technical skills: I started the year thinking of taking one pluralsight course a month. I did take a few, but then decided to change my approach to consume whatever resource I found to be directly related to technical things I was currently doing (or planning to in the near future). So I’ve joined two technical book clubs with my fellow Improvers, watched videos on YouTube and Udemy, and read blog posts. Most importantly, I’ve put the acquired knowledge into practice and discussed it with my team and co-workers

Blogging: I haven’t put out as many blog posts as I had planned, but I’m happy with many of the posts I’ve put out on this blog, the favorite ones are…

Another highlight for me is my “Context-based testing in the life of Don Testa’Lot Moore” post to the Improving Thoughts blog. Not only is that a topic I’ve been coaching many developers on for several years, but I also like the whimsical tone I came up with to have a slightly different voice to that I use in my personal blog.

Also, I’ve been looking forward to seeing my fellow Improvers put out their great thoughts in our company’s blog and we’re now seeing a ton of content delivered through that channel.

Publishing my book: That didn’t happen, but the first draft is almost done. What did go well, though, is that for the last 18 months or so I’ve been putting into practice on a daily basis the things that are going on the book, and will enable me to refine the content. I’ve also spent 3 months going through a deliberate writing practice to sharpen my chops.

Growing Beyond the Track: I’ve grown both as a rider as well as my Beyond the Track efforts.

  • We’ve put together a BTT Endurance Team, did a few races, had a lot of fun,  learned a lot together, and every rider on the team got better throughout the year
  • We have custom-made under-suit shirts with the BTT logo on the front, and our names on the back
  • I finally rode with world renowned California Superbike School, and it was everything I had been hoping for since 2016
  • I got a LOT of seat time
  • I cranked up my data analysis skills and used it both to improve my own riding as well as to coach other riders

Our endurance team after our 1st race (we finished 3rd place in our class!)

Riding with California Superbike School

A lot of things I’ve been doing with Beyond the Track since 2018 has been inspired by California Superbike School

…and I got to meet Keith Code, the founder of CSS, and a huge inspiration for me.

A few other great things…

  • I got an Elliptical machine so I can exercise at home while watching things. Also started playing tennis weekly again
  • Got more serious with my journalling habit.
  • Started going back to the office for the main team meetings. 
  • Got into the habit of updating my Now page somewhat frequently.
  • Achieved one of my 2020 goals that had to be postponed due to the pandemic: traveling to a Spanish-speaking country and making the effort to speak mostly Spanish while I was there. The trip is currently ranked as my best vacation ever!

What didn’t go well?

Blogging: What was I thinking when I said I was planning on putting out “at least one blog post every week”?! In 2020, I’ve averaged 1.5 posts/week, so that’s what was in my mind at the time. In 2021, I’ve average 1 post/month! As I come to think of it, I probably did as much writing, except that I’ve kept most of it to myself (through my journalling habit).

Publishing my book: Yeah, so that didn’t happen. But, I’m fine with that, as I mentioned earlier. Some of my priorities had to shift during the year and the book project was affected by that.

What am I working toward?

Continuous Learning and Applying: I’ll keep re-reading books. Maybe one per quarter. As I say that, I’m just starting two book clubs at Improving to go over two books that I’m re-reading. I don’t want to only quickly chug through books; I want to put some of the learnings into practice, and I want to make it a collaborative effort with my friends and co-workers.

Improving: our company and our Improvers keep helping me have a balanced life, and I’m working on expanding this experience to our stakeholders. It sounds broad, but my private notes are more detailed. For my readers, suffice it to say that I enjoy my job a lot and am dedicated to make it even better.

My book: I’m working on having elements of the book released this year for readers to start consuming it.

Riding: I’m always working on that! This year I’ll keep improving my riding as well as my Beyond the Track, continuing our monthly meetings, the endurance racing team, and a few more things the group has discussed for the short, mid, and long term.

Technical Communities: The Virtual Brown Bag continues, and I hope to make it better so we can grow our attendance. I’m also bringing back the Improving Code user group as a hybrid (in-person and virtual) offering.

Music: I’d like to put out at least 2 or 3 new original songs.

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