Retrospective on 2020

retrospective Jan 08, 2021

Reflections on 2020

Writing my yearly retrospective always starts me in the same place - the last 12 months have flown by quickly. It generally feels like it was too quick. 2020 was certainly different. 2020 was undoubtedly eventful both from a global and personal perspective. Globally, the pandemic was eye-opening. When we should have a united country, things in North America have never felt more divided. I have so many feelings and thoughts about the situation, but the reality is what we're going through is complex.


It is easy to talk about the US and how people are politicizing the pandemic has been politicized. It is hard not to see some of the cracks in Canada. While not as large, we have seen our fair share of citizens protesting the shutdowns and face mask-wearing. Over the last few weeks, we also see a troubling growing spike of cases here in Ontario, where I live.

On a personal front,  it was a year of change. After a tough personal year in 2019, I made the difficult decision to leave WE for a global consulting company called ThoughtWorks as a principal consultant in April. ThoughtWorks is a thought leader in the software engineering space, and I was curious to see if consulting was different from it was in 2005. Unfortunately, a few months in, I realized that I had outgrown implementing tech for the sake of implementing tech and decided that I wanted to go back to working for a product company. I'm excited to be starting my new role in January of 2021.

The other major event that I shared last year was I had a close friend diagnosed with cancer early in the year while she was in Singapore. She was able to fly back to Canada, proceed with treatment, and beat cancer. It was amazing to be able to spend time with her despite the pandemic. And while it was tough to see her go back to Singapore in November, I'm grateful that she's resumed her everyday life.

The main silver lining of the pandemic is that my work-life balance has been fantastic. The lack of daily commutes and the inability to socialize has given me back so much time back weekly. As a result, the last nine months have been a fantastic time rekindling my relationship with my son and wife. The pandemic also afforded me the time to enjoy my home for the first time since moving in almost a decade ago. The time at home also allowed me to focus on some of my goals last year.

To summarize my 2020 goals, here's a quick summary.

  • I rode a total of 1301 KM in 2020, which was above my 1000 Km a year goal. This feat was quite impressive for me, given that several frustrating foot injuries, including two broken feet and a sprained ankle, hampered much of my progress earlier in the year. However, the pandemic allowed me to broaden my riding. I also started to ride on gravel trails as well as do virtual riding. I also started doing a bit of racing, which allowed me to enjoy riding significantly.
  • I completed reading four books last year - Dare to Lead, Atomic Habits, Drive and Extreme Ownership. While this fell short of my five book goal, it represents a 100% improvement. The books covered many topics but played a big part in re-affirming some of my approaches to approaching my work and life.
  • I wrote only 16 pages and posts, which were less than last year. I never got into a groove of writing, and it's one of the things I intend to fix for this year.
  • I found a much better way of focusing on relationships that matter. Being in a pandemic helped with that as a whole, as not being able to socialize forced me to prioritize and focus my relationships opportunistically. I also found an accountability partner in Ok Ikejiani with whom we check in monthly on our goals.
  • I didn't implement a new mobile and web client with Flutter, but I did finish the course and now have a basic understanding of the technology. I also realize about Bunch of Stuff that the effort to productize it will be enormous. Over the next couple of years, it will continue to be a tool that I use to validate my technology learning instead.

My goals for 2021

I read John Doer's book, Measure what matters in 2019, and it introduced the notion of OKRs. I wanted to test it as a way to set my goals for this year. So this year's plan would take a different format.

Objective

Spend more quality time with my immediate family

Theme

Family

Key Result 1

Teach David critical life skills by spending 4 hours a week with David and working on four projects with him this year

Key Result 2

Build a stronger spiritual foundation by reading the Bible with Irene at least twice a week

Key Result 3

Have shared gratitude by creating a weekly family reflection that we can publish and share with family at the end of the year

Objective

Improve overall health

Theme

Health

Key Result 1

Increasing my average FTP to 2.7W/kg for rides longer than 40 Km and ride for a total of 2500 KM this year

Key Result 2

Increase my overall strength by being able to deadlift x lbs

Key Result 3

Understanding my caloric intake by measuring what I eat daily

Objective

Increase my technical confidence in newer / modern technology practices

Theme

Professional

Key Result 1

Rebuild the Bunch of Stuff front end in React this year

Key Result 2

Build a mobile app in Flutter

Key Result 3

Build a basic recommendation engine for a Bunch of Stuff

Objective

Build a personal brand surrounding technology leadership in Toronto

Theme

Professional, Growth

Key Result 1

Increase my average number of views on firsttiger.com by 50 new viewers per month by publishing at least two posts/month

Key Result 2

Gain 20 subscribers at the end of the year by recording one podcast a month with Ok starting in March 2021

Key Result 3

Increasing # of followers on LinkedIn by 50 and Twitter by 200

Key Result 4

Increase my overall breadth of knowledge by reading five new books this year and blogging and posting about what I learn

Tags