My Annual Review - 2022
Looking back at 2022 and emerging thoughts on 2023.
I don't make new year-resolutions.
But I like to use the first weeks on a new year to reflect and consolidate my ambitions, stance and goals for the future.
A great moment to reflect and adapt.
To start with, my life changed in many aspects last year. From my physical and mental health to the social aspects covering family and friends. And the most profound one is related to my spiritual journey.
We all have our own view of what's important in life but eventually life will catch up on us if we neglect any of the key aspects:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Spiritual fulfillment
- Family and Relationship Fulfillment
- Work and career prosperity
- Wealth and financials
Most of us can agree that being poorely positioned in any of these will make the others suffer.
On an individual level we all thrive in life when all aspects are nurtured.
Our bodies are healthy and strong, as well as our minds. But what if we are spiritually poor? Or financially pressured somewhow? Lacking in any of these areas can lead to bad ripples in the other ones.
This year has taught me many things but the most impactful one is that individually, we are completed based on several inter-linked parts.
A fractal-based life.
In fact, most of the creations in nature are fractal-based.
A lot of stress and anxiety has been releaved from me during the past year when realising that, in the end, I am not the one in control.
This lesson has pushed me into a greater depth of extreme ownership. Being more sincere and present in my day to day projects and life in general I have started to live a more fulfilling life.
For example, I used to shy away from tension. Almost being afraid of conflicts I have learned that there is a greater cost of not confronting the tension.
By approaching the tension with openness and transparency there is a much more valuable experience to take forward.
My continuous battle against distractions continued through the year and I only published a few blog posts during 2022. I can clearly point out that I didn't stay true to my writing habits.
Besides family, most of my attention have been focused on settling down in a new domain and working with a great team at work. Working with digital pension advice has exposed me to new challenges and opportunities.
This has led to a completely new stance in my journey to dig deeper in tech. As a software practitioner, not only focused on ways of working, but being one of the makers.
My Coding Journey
I stuck my neck out last year.
After 10 years of experience in IT, project management and agile ways of working I have decided to dig deep into software development. The creative craft of coding.
Even though I cannot call myself a professional developer yet I must say I am proud of where I am today.
Having at least one programming language (aside HTML and CSS that is) together with a solid framework in my toolbox. Combined with being comfortable with GIT and version control I must say I have a better stance as a developer today than last year.
When it comes to speed of learning I have learned that small, quick iterations combined with slow-baked learning is the key to progress. This means that I have learned to marinate knowledge that are worth revisiting rather than just learning a new concept to pass a test.
Working in tech is a life journey and I like to view it as a slow progress of learning, where I have learned that sustainable growth is when we don't rush things. Same thing when I read a great book that I really want to absorb. I read it slow. Without any rush. Taking time for reflection and adapting the knowledge as I go on.
I also try to focus less on how fast I can complete a course or learn a new language, but rather trying to marinate the fundamentals and adapt quickly as I go. If that means aquiring a new programming language or framework to build a new web app, that could mean I focus on getting the job done quickly but re-iterating on the fundamentals.
Learning In Sprints
Learning is something we do throughout our entire life and my view is that we never stop. A good way to stack our infinite (or at least life long) we can plan our learning-sessions in sprints to use the power of intensity.
Working in sprints is something I am used to preaching in my daily work as a Scrum Master but realise I can be better to adapt it into my own learning journey.
This means better planning and execution. There are too many unfinished courses I have enrolled and they can be there but in the end, those
Project Based Learning
I started to build my first microservice at work and that required me to learn Java and Spring primarily but also understand how communication really works.
Being comfortable with a new set of tools. Today my toolbox looks more like this:
Understanding REST API's, data structures and HTTP requests are just a few things that I needed to learn to have some basic understanding on what we do when we setup a new service.
My Github is pretty modest since I only code on my personal projects whenever I have some time over. Which is basically never...
I choose to not stress out about it. The only pressure I put on myself in this matter is that the above graph will more more green that black.
Alongside with my projects at work I have tried to speed up the learning by taking some courses on CodeAcademy.
Combining the online course schedules alongside my contributions at work has been a real booster. Learning the concepts and getting some isolated practice going and then apply the knowledge in real life. This is powerful.
Courage or Curiosity
I had my yearly performance review at work the other week and I was happy to receive feedback from my manager that I had shown some great courage, which is one of the core values we work through at our company.
This means a lot, since I have almost taken it for granted to go on this path, without reflecting too much on the risks and costs associated with it. Shifting career trajectory mid-life is not easy. Especially when you have kids.
My view is a bit different though. I don't see it as courage even though I may signal it sometimes.
I like to see it as exploring my curiosity. In fact, having kids shouldn't stop me to be more true to my career and craft. Rather the opposite.
I would love if my kids would remember me as a curious explorer. A non-conformist who double down on those things that makes me grow. Even though it could mean accepting a lower salary.
Learning to code has been a great game-changer for me. It has changed my whole perspective on my own career.
My View On Interviewing Has Developed
2022 was an intense year when it comes to recruiting. I turned down lots of opportunities and I get almost daily requests from LinkedIn-reqruiters. Some of them are interesting but most of them are barely worth answering to.
Since my profile is mainly signalling IT project management and Scrum Master competencies I give my honest answer from the start:
I am currently on a path to deepen my skills and become a software developer.
This has lead to really cool and interesting discussions. From companies like Paradox Interactive, to state owned organisations like SJ.
I have had 4 interviews already for various developer roles and I haven't yet positioned myself as a junior developer yet. I have only started.
Interviews are traditionally designed to achieve a supply and demand problem. I like to see them more from a relational perspective.
Talking, asking and getting to know another organisation, team or individual from another company culture is really interesting sometimes. I learn about what business challenges they have, how they work and what skills they value.
It is a good way to navigate the market. Understanding different business' needs.
Being a beginner developer also gives me an idea on what I need to learn to be truly valuable.
It's not so much about finding a new job. More about learning where I can contribute and grow the most.
My Writing Habits
I haven't stayed true to my writing habits. This has created lots of stress for me since I tend to fall into that paralised state of not being able to press publish.
There are so many ideas and unstructured information gathered but the results speak for itself. I have only published a few blog posts the past year. I am not beating myself too hard and I would not use the words dissapointment when I look back.
I made some experimentation with my newsletters and maildrops during 2022, trying out "The String" concept where I published weekly learnings from a more technical perspective. I am not giving up though, the experiments are coming.
In the end it's all about habits. Pretty simple, if I am too distracted to stay focused at least 1 hour per day to write, the results will not come.
My personal opinion is that writing online has never been easier. With a multitude of platforms, self hosting solutions and applications that makes is easier for you as a writer, there has never been a better time in human history to share ideas quickly.
Heck, we don't even have to write our own outlines anymore. Having AI available through our fingertips there is not one single excuse to get the momentum going if you want to build up some great content.
At the same time it has never been harder to stay focused. In an information abundant society the FOMO is strong among us.
The ones staying focused will be the winners of tomorrow.
And yesterday I was not one of them. At least when it comes to writing.
The Balance Between Learning And Execution
These two things should not be considered mutually exclusive since we learn every day. Learning should be integrated in our daily deliveries at work.
But sometimes we need to differentiate certain processes since they require varied types of focus.
Having a guilty consience when you close down all the apps and notifications in order to get some study time can be hard. Especially if you dont't have the possibility to stay late at night, nor being a 5 AM person.
Integrating intense learning sessions throughout your work days requires transparency. It is a pretty nice place to be in if you know that your team mates are cool with the fact that you are studying.
So if I only can be more mindful and ruthless with my time and calendar I could find the timeslot for least friction.
Learning is hard work. The passed year has tought me that setting up the right environment and ambience is crucial.
My biggest challenge has been to find and dedicate time for learning without the expense of execution. If we have a release-week I cannot sit with head down in one of my books with, calm and focused when I know there is a production deploy to handle.
A few takeaways I bring forward into 2023 when it comes to balancing learning and execution:
Be transparent and honest with your closest team mates on your ambitions. Tell them what your plan is. Don't keep it for yourself.
Communicate what you want to learn and why.
Why not share what you learn and how that could be of interest for your current deliveries.
Communicate your learnings, share what you have learned with your team. Why not showcase your latest learning project. Write about it or talk about it in the next "fika".
These are the top 3 ideas I came up with. There are certainly more creative ways to ease the pressure when you are trying to learn a new skill while delivering in your role.
During 2022 I setup a mentorship with one of the senior developers, named Fredrik, in my team. We have had daily and weekly sessions where we go through code, general questions and where we practice programming.
This has been a true game changer for me. And I realise how priviliged I am.
In the beginning of 2022 it started off like a humble thought and dream that having a professional developer that has worked for +20 years in the industry could to learn from.
I seized the moment when he expressed that he looked for people to mentor. I was like, can this really be true?
That was the best decision I could make.
Today I am positioned and proficient enough in version control and git as well as being comfortable saying I have general backend development knowledge on how to get up and running with a REST API.
And most of the above is pretty much thanks to Fredrik.
I Started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 🥋
I started to take my 6 year old (now 7) son to BJJ (brazilian jiu jitsu) classes and the more I explored and learned what it was about, I realised I also wanted to join the dojo as a jiu jitsu student.
Since I started in September 2022 I have developed a new passion and must say, the only regret I have is that I have waited until turning 39 to start with this lovely art.
It is more than just rolling around and doing leg-locks. It is equally important for me to be part of a great community where everyone is encouraging each other. Learning from one another. Pushing each others limits. Growing together.
I am on the right track at least. By earning my first stripe I realise that this is a new beginning of a life-long journey.
My Spiritual Journey
If it gives you any comfort, I don't think my role is to try to make you a believer.
Through the years I have been obsessed about my movement practice, mental performance and stillness with the belief that by "controlling" the body and mind I can, myself, be the designer of my life.
No matter how hard I tried. I pushed and tweaked the processes but felt there was always something missing. I was struggling with setting up new plans and new systems as I went on jotting down my ideas for the future.
Maybe I am not supposed to fight this battle by my self, I thought to myself.
2 years back, I was baptised and it opened up a new chapter in my life. This chapter has tought me that it is less about me, myself and I and more about serving my family, close relations and my community.
I have stopped chasing human role models and I have completely dropped the habit of fixating on becoming like "that successful and smart guy" over there.
I will still continue to learn from successful makers out there but with my closest admiration for "another guy" who chose to sacrifice a lot more than any of us can imagine.
It is not my ego that leads me anymore. It is more about living a life as a servant leader. Checking in with the Lord what the next best step and with both feet on the ground while serving my family and becoming a more significant neighbor and member of the communities I am involved in.
Growing spiritually is an iterative process. A constant struggle where you are reminded that it is not about chasing happiness, nor a competition on who's the wealthiest or smartest.
But rather who is the most hungry and curious. Who is the non-conformist that refuse to be passive among sheeps.
"Do not conform" is difficult advice in a generation when crowd pressures have unconsciously conditioned our minds and feet to move to the rhythmic drumbeat of the status quo. - Martin Luther King Jr.
Time and experience have taught me the hard way that bad things happen if I conform. Not confronting the tension. Believing I have shown compassion in one moment have usually led to destruction in the long term.
Lesson learned: Confront the tension and speak out. This is partly what being a non-conformist is about.
I aim to be more of that kind going forward.
The above snippet is from the book Strength To Love which is the landmark work of Dr. M.L.K Jr's mission to fuse the vision of Love as a force for change and faith as human integrator for a resilient, responsible society.
What I Am Curious About Next
We are already into the second month of 2023 and these are 4 main areas that I want to explore and conquer during this first half of 2023:
- Completing CS50.
- Start contributing to open source projects, like Backstage.
- Build my first full-stack app using Spring and Angular.
- Learn more about the art of jiu jitsu, looking forward to my next stripe.
- Publish more and learn how to grow an online business.
Staying true to my writings and by publishing more will be a good catalyst for my overall experience and ambition to "grow the fractal tree".
Cover Photo by Armando Arauz / Unsplash
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