2019 Year in Review

Mark Palfreeman
4 min readJan 2, 2020


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.

👔 Work & Career

  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Started the year on paternity leave through February
  • 🚄 “Loaned” to a pilot team rebuilding Concur travel web applications
  • 🗣 Gave my first tech talk at Seattle React JS meetup
  • 🚧 Voluntarily switched to a new UI library team after an internal re-org
  • 🎤 Attended my favorite CascadiaJS conference for the third year
  • 🎉 Accepted a new job offer at Microsoft (starting in 2020)!

Let’s face it: this was a year full of ambiguity and indecision at work. I couldn’t discern what I should do next within Concur, I was bogged down with at-home stress, and there were a handful of internal shifts in the company mid-year. I wanted to grow my skills but also felt that my team wasn’t the best fit. I made a few decisions sending me down a road that ultimately ended in switching companies—which was not the initial plan—but I’m thankful and excited! Here’s to new challenges and putting calm, renewed focus back on my professional growth.

Insight: I can accept and enjoy the decisions I’ve made without stacking them against an external standard that I invent. My talent and work are a summation of my decisions and circumstances, and no matter what mix, I don’t need to compare myself to others in the industry to be satisfied today.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Family & Recreation

Life with two kids has been a fun change but not without its hardships—a fuller/louder house, toddler fits, conflicting nap schedules, and even less “free” time. Much of this year has been devoted to personal (not professional) growth, learning to be content, and cutting out distractions causing anxiety and stress. And we still love wine tasting and making cocktails at home when there’s not much energy left to spend.

Insight: Going out on even the smallest outings makes family memories and keeps life in balance. Sometimes I just need to get outside or go for a drive. Also, it’s OK to spend money on things/experiences that make me happy 😱

Time & Focus

  • 🚫 Quit Facebook for 10 months (returned to promote Anna’s music)
  • 📵 No Slack app on my phone!
  • ✅ Todoist: 968 tasks completed

I like data and seeing trends at a glance; only with information do we know what and how to change. I haven’t pruned my categorization on RescueTime in a while, but a largely unedited breakdown of my time at work looks something like this:

  • 38% Communication & Scheduling (work chat, meetings, text messaging)
  • 33% Software Development (coding, code reviews, documentation)
  • 6% Uncategorized (mobile browsing can’t be tracked anymore)
  • 5% Utilities (maps, tools, system apps)
  • 5% Social Networking
  • 4% Reference & Learning (other resources)
  • 3% Entertainment

These percentages do not explain my enormous need to improve limiting distractions, time-blocking, and overall focus.

Insight: I am too easily distracted and spend too much time checking feeds. Still, I did pretty well separating my work time from family and recreation.

🏃‍♂️ Health & Fitness

  • 🏋️‍♂️ Gym: 15 workouts (frontloaded in a couple of months)
  • 🏄‍♂️ Paddleboarding: 18 times (since August), 47 minute average
  • ️🚶‍♂️ Fitbit: 7,000 average daily steps
  • 🧠 Started regularly seeing a counselor for stress & anxiety

Insight: Paddleboarding has been an amazing blend of hobby/relaxation/nature/exercise. When the weather improves I hope to make it my primary activity; please come join!

2020 Goals

Onto the next one. Based on my (lack of) performance finishing last year’s goals, I’m trying to be a bit more realistic for the coming year. Here are some 2020 goals I hope to build on—and change along the way, if necessary:

  • 👷‍♂️ Consume less; create more
  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Make family memories
  • 📘 Read 20 books
  • 🏃‍♂️ Exercise twice per week in some form (🏄🚲)
  • 📐 Merge my blog into my personal website with Gatsby
  • 🎹 Build Anna a simple website to promote her music
  • ✅ Perform weekly (and hopefully daily) task reviews
  • 📵 Limit my phone and technology use
  • 💬 Quit Facebook—again?
  • 📠 Automate things I do frequently

Since I’m not sure I really achieved it last year, I’ll repeat a mantra that would be a success to me: waste less time.

What did you learn last year that motivates new changes in 2020?