Looking Back. Looking Forward.

Published on Dec. 31, 2013, 7:44 p.m.

I don't often write one of those year-end summary blog posts, but 2013 was so incredible on so many levels, I thought I'd break with (a lack of) tradition and start something new before the year's completion.

Failures

I actually grew up in a culture that seeks to limit or eliminate failure. In other words, failure is bad. Avoid at all costs. I still struggle with this mindset, even though I know it's absolutely wrong.

Therefore, one of my new resolutions is to more vocally celebrate my failures, as well as the things that I learn from them. So without further ado, here are a couple of my major failures from 2013:

Work for Pie.

It was really around late June or early July when we realized the end had come. It's still painful to know that my first startup never got anywhere near where we wanted it to go. Even though I know the lessons I've learned will stay with me forever. I've learned so much about building a business, the challenges of a real startup, the importance of working on things that matter, and the challenges of not just technical recruiting, but job search in general (all of which will hopefully be the subject of future writing!).

Overall, I really believe that I'm a better developer, product designer, entrepreneur, and an all-around better person due to my time building Work for Pie. I'm happy that Cliff and I had a chance to give this a shot.

The St. Jude Marathon.
My one fitness goal for 2013 was to run a marathon. Unfortunately the race was cancelled this year due to weather, but I was nowhere near ready to run a full marathon. Between a summer-long battle with plantar fasciitis and multiple rounds of something flu-like during the fall, I just wasn't able to put in the miles. What I learned: You can't always push yourself as hard you might want. Sometimes, you do need to take a break and rest.
Photography.
This is one of my hobbies, but for most of 2013, I put this aside for one reason or another. Yes, I did get some great holiday shots of my family, but I don't feel that I've learned anything new. Here's to stretching myself in 2014. What I learned: It's important to plan ahead. If I don't stop and plan a shoot, life will just pass me by.
MEMpy.
While I'm extremely happy to have seen the Memphis python user group live to see it's second full year of meetings, one of my goals for 2013 was to pull together a few events to introduce python to hobbyists and people that might have no experience with any programming language. Unfortunately, this just didn't happen. What I learned: There are a lot of other people who would be interested in helping with this. I need to just do it, nudging my friends to help along the way.

Accomplishments

Now, as I look back, I realize that there are actually a lot of things that I've accomplished (professionally) this year. So, in no particular order:

  • I Presented at PyOhio: My Adventures with Mock.
  • I'm pretty happy about my Julython efforts, which included a 30-day streak of open source contributions.
  • MEMpy saw it's 2nd birthday (even tho I forgot to bring the cake!)
  • I helped (albeit in a very small way) organize PyTennessee.
  • I had an awesome opportunity to be a Thinkful Mentor (hi Carl!)
  • I've released a few minor Open Source django apps.
  • I participated in the very first HACKMemphis
  • I've done quite a bit of reading (or audio-book listening). In fact, I considered listing the books I've read, but apparently amazon doesn't make it easy to list the things you read this year :(
  • I learned a little bit of Lua playing with LÖVE.
  • I've started an amazing new journey with Dishcrawl.

Looking forward

I'm not good at setting goals. Especially big goals. That's perhaps something I should strive to improve upon. I know you should set specific goals, but at the moment, these are the things I'd like to accomplish in my professional life in 2014.

  • Become a better PostgreSQL user. It's been my database of choice for a long time, but there's so many great things happening in this community, and I feel like I'm not really using this tool to its full potential.
  • Learn how to use a Graph Database (I'm looking at you Neo4j)
  • Build something usable with Lua (I've started digging in, now it's time to make something).
  • Be a better open source citizen; this means submit fixes to things I use, and merge those PRs to my own projects in a timely manner!
  • Be more disciplined when it comes to testing.
  • Do something interesting with Arduino.
  • Write more. Share more.

Now, personally (an more importantly), there are a few things I plan to do better in the next year:

  • Be a better husband. My poor wife has put up with a lot this year. I am all-too-often a grumpy/stressed/short-tempered developer. I will strive to chill more often.
  • Shoot more interesting photos... and teach my daughter (who's interested in photography) how to shoot.
  • We acquired a set of Snap Circuits this year. I want to see my kids build every single project.
  • Finally start investing. A number of the the books I read in 2013 dealt with financial education. I feel like I've learned quite a bit, and now it's time to put that into practice.
  • Run that marathon

So there it is, all out in the open.

Ok, 2014, let's do this.


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