In pursuit of a calm, productive life.

We’ve arrived! Not necessarily to something better, but at least to something new.

It’s been 12 months since my last post (2019’s review)—my longest gap in public writing. This makes me sad. A few years ago, writing was essential to me: it was somewhere ideas brewed, an outlet, a reminder to focus, an inviting challenge.

Several things got lost in 2020, but my focus and discipline stand out to me. In the monotony and absence of structure, my habits—and sometimes hope—have faded. …

Camera lens creates small area of focus in blurry background near lake
Camera lens creates small area of focus in blurry background near lake
Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash

After the last of our good habits tapered off with the Fall, Anna and I took a two-week social media hiatus for Christmas break. I know this isn’t novel anymore, but it remains surprisingly difficult. Why?

It took me four days to edit this post, finally nixing every instance of “we,” “us,” and “you” to focus just on my own experience. Thus, things got more personal. And challenging. This post is for me, but if it’s helpful to anyone else, I always love discussing how technology interacts with life, happiness, and goals.

Here are my thoughts about social media tools and how I plan to use them (or not) this year. …

Yo, yo, yo! It’s my first post in months, and we’re at the end of the year already 😫 So, I figured I should write a long one; buckle up!

Right off the bat, I’m going to come out and say it: I barely achieved any of the goals I set out to accomplish in 2019. Most of that I attribute to underestimating the impact of a second baby and spending most of the year adjusting to that reality. I can also be an optimist when I’m on vacation 😄

With that in mind, here are some highlights of my 2019 — good or bad. In 2020, I simultaneously want to shoot for more realistic goals but also push myself further against resistance. …

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Photo by Samuel Pereira on Unsplash

I’ve had some variation of “speak at a local meetup” on my goals list for a couple years now, but every time I get near the subject I avoid it—so much so, I didn’t even write it down this year.

I gave into my fear for a long time, but a few weeks ago, the right combination of circumstances came together and I gave my first talk at a local JavaScript meetup. (🎥 Video here:

I have a few thoughts about the hesitation, fear, prep, experience, and effects.

I’ll Always Convince Myself Not To

Every time I remotely considered giving a talk, I quickly convinced myself one of a few…

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Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

This shouldn’t be surprising. And it probably wouldn’t take quitting to arrive at the same conclusion. But let me back up and see how I got here.

How I Got Here

Social networking really took off with MySpace in the early 2000s, where teenagers (at my time) created online profiles and had “friend” connections—at the time these were mainly just links that said something about who you were close to. You could interact slightly and comment on things, but it was really all about the profile, and people like me had fun customizing theirs and “rebranding themselves” occasionally 😜. Then came Facebook that really won the connection battle, more closely mimicking real relationships (even romantic ones!), allowing better sharing of content with discussions, and popularizing the News Feed™ stream of everything our connections were doing/posting/saying/liking. We hadn’t seen anything like this online, and it was so exciting in college to connect with new “friends,” learn about (stalk?) …

It’s that time again, when we can all look back at what we wanted to accomplish and feel totally insignificant. Just kidding—well, kind of.

I often visit the blog posts of my professional “heroes” and feel like I’m doing absolutely nothing in comparison. It’s good to celebrate successes and get inspired by our accomplishments and influence, but sometimes comparisons aren’t helpful at all. Everyone has different aspirations, circumstances, and time, and we make sacrifices in areas of our life to accomplish things.

I’ve resolved it’s OK for me to just make progress and say “yes” and “no” to things at my own pace and on my own terms. I make different sacrifices than people I look up to, and our lives will look different because of it. …

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“measuring tape on mannequin” by Fancycrave on Unsplash

I used to think being a perfectionist was fine and good.

It’s just healthy self-scrutiny. We’re supposed to analyze and hold ourselves to a high standard, right? To strive to be our best? Not anymore. Not once I realized what’s really happening.

I need to be reminded often of a simple fact: people can’t ever be perfect; we’re inherently flawed. We can try all we want, but everyone has their issues: anger, cowardice, selfishness, lack of empathy, avoidance, the list goes on. Or maybe it’s just lacking abilities that others have—there will always be someone better than us.

Perfectionism says we can’t put any of our selves or work on display until it’s all just right. For me, this looks like questioning everything, doubting myself, and quitting half-way. Specifically, I hesitate every time I’m about to submit a code review for my coworkers to look at. Or I decide I’m not qualified enough to speak at a local tech meetup or write a new post (like this one!). …

Missing Goals, But Doing Other Stuff Too

One of the most important steps in the goal-setting process is a review at the end. Did you do what you said you would? (Or do your goals need to be refined, given more time, or scrapped entirely?) In other words:

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I looked back at the goals I set, and I’ll admit—I didn’t do a lot of what I planned in 2017, particularly around projects outside of work. Staring past-me in the face and thinking, “Oh yeah! I said I’d do X… and didn’t even start it” leaves a lot to be desired.

But rather than make this about the gaps in my progress or how to see things through to the end—better to just read Jon Acuff’s book Finish for that—I wanted to write a recap for myself of what I actually accomplished in 2017, even if not in the original…

Tomorrow is my last day working at Deloitte Digital.

As a new graduate of a short-term web development bootcamp almost three years ago, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Our front-end development course gave me a solid grasp of presentational UI and modular HTML/CSS, but it didn’t take long to realize that JavaScript was taking the world by storm. Jobs weren’t easy to come by, but I set out to find somewhere I could apply the skills I’d just acquired.

I feel fortunate to have received the job offer at a stable established company like Deloitte, especially being so new to the industry myself. But pretty soon I found I was able to contribute right away with the knowledge I’d gathered. I helped refactor plenty of messy CSS, write declarative semantic markup, rethink small components of interfaces in a more reusable way, and abstract a project’s Sass to handle multiple color themes. As our projects shifted to more complex web applications, I’ve developed my JavaScript skills while using both Angular 1 and 2 (and React on the side), getting a better grasp on application architecture and programming in general. …

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“person typing on laptop computer” by rawpixel on Unsplash

In the days after posting my goals for 2017, I’ve been haunted by the brevity and ever-advancing nature of time. Our 5-month-old daughter was just so small she would sleep on our chests at any moment throughout the day, and suddenly she’s twice the size and taking scheduled naps in her crib. I can’t get days (or hours) back, and I want to cherish and revel in the moments that I do have.

Many of these goals are either alongside work or entirely extracurricular, which means I need to make the most of my work hours to free up the time necessary to build relationships with family and friends, work on our house, and maintain exercise and a couple hobbies. …

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