Happy New Year!
2017 was quite a year for me. From buying a home to meeting our first child it has been an eventful season of life for us. World news and politics aside, 2017 will be forever engrained in my memory as a fantastic year.
Sandy passed along these questions to me that she’s answered the last couple of years and I’m going to answer them here. I think they’re a great primer and review of the year. So here it goes.
1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
The birth of our daughter, Quinn Audrey is by far the greatest thing that happened this year and ever. Nothing will compare—except maybe the birth of another child…someday.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Quinn is also the most challenging thing to happen. Raising a human is crazy. Yet when her little toothless smile looks up at me it’s somehow worth it.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
My own self-confidence. At times I get frustrated with myself and feel bad about what I’m capable of accomplishing. It was great to breakthrough that this year and feel the joy of achievement.
5. Pick three words to describe this past year
- Transformative – Becoming a dad changes you
- At Peace – with my role at work and with my profession
- Perseverance – breakthroughs in programming
6. What were the best books you read this year?
The second half of the year I did not read a single book. The first half though I enjoyed The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. It was a nice kick in the ass and confidence booster for me because I tend to care too much about what people think.
7. Who were your most valuable relationships with?
Outside of my wife and family, I’d have to say my good friend Alex. I watched him learn and grow as an incredible developer worthy of working at Netflix. He’s such a good dude and has taught me so much about being driven to learn and forge a path in this career we’ve got ourselves in.
8. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
I’ve grown more accustomed to my role as a leader in a tech company. I still have internal struggles with the idea but I’ve learned that everyone has that regardless of position. I have a great team that inspires me to continue to look to the future and see what we could be.
Outside of work, I took most social media apps off my phone in August. In general I really like social media. I think it’s fun and it’s a great way to stay connected to people. Unfortunately, I’m addicted to it and I too often let other people’s post affect my emotions. Additionally, I’m a little tired of algorithms and the data collected on me based on interactions on the platforms. I just want to friends with people and not be profiled so the latest tech device can be repeatedly shown to me begging for my hard-earned money.
9. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
Becoming a dad has been incredible to say the least. It’s taught me so much about love, patience, and happiness.
10. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I’d say I regressed a bit this year. Nothing can prepare you for the exhaustion of parenthood. Thankfully I got my health in order before Quinn was born so the damage done isn’t so bad. We will be working on it the beginning of this year though as we are sleeping more and enjoying a more active baby.
11. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
Sandy and I grew closer as we had to learn how to be parents. I think we’ve made a pretty good team so far. I think the birth of Quinn has brought my family a little closer too. Babies can have that affect. At work, my team and I really got into a groove and there was a lot of synergy throughout the second half of the year as we were heads down on projects.
12. What was the most enjoyable part of your work?
Kivu Security Tracker is a project that has taught me a ton and I’m extremely proud of building. It’s purpose is sad and I hope it doesn’t need to exist some day. While the darkness the application covers, it brings me a sense of pride knowing that our tool will help alleviate the problems occurring in the Congo.
13. What was the most challenging part of your work?
Being a leader is always a challenge. You have to balance seeing/knowing the future with managing the current state of your team. You have to be both creative and realistic. You have to be sensitive but also a harsh critic. You have to achieve goals but also communicate that your goals aren’t the only thing that matters. I am learning to do all of this and progress my skills as a developer myself. There’s not enough time nor energy in a day to truly do everything so I’m learning to pace myself and take each day at a time.
14. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
The damn television. I am easily entertained by television but don’t need it in my life. I’m considering cutting cable and sticking with a couple of cheaper subscriptions instead. We’ll see.
15. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
16. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
I learned to be ok with where things are. I think this is something that having a baby taught me. Kids achieve so much growth in a short amount of time that if you don’t savor the moments they’ll pass you by. I didn’t really understand until this week where I was able to hold two of my newborn nephews and they were so small compared to Quinn.
17. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
Do the work but cherish the moments.