2022 Year Retro

Because everyone seems to be doing them, here’s mine.

2022 handed me some major personal life changes. But that’s private and I should be talking career and tech stuff here.

lolz

Work wise, 2022 turned out to be a year of uncertainty. It was like living on quicksand, it’s not that bad if you ignore everything else being out of place. This was the year “quiet quitting” and the great tech layoffs both became a thing. I am but an average tech worker with no immunity against these viral memes. As the year progressed and the world became more uncertain, I found myself doing the things that keep me steady.

I Read Books

This year I discovered my READING superpower.

I always read for fun, often it will be about non-work topics that I find interesting, like the Human Body or American Slavery. I rarely read books related to work because they’re dull and why would I want to do more work in my spare time.

But then something happened in my current work that made me look at things differently. Turns out most of the people at the top don’t know what they’re doing. They need help from other people, sometimes that means their personal social network of successful people, but often they come in the form of words written on a page. So, this year, I read books related to my work.

Books that had a big impact on me this year:

Team Topologies (Skelton and Pais) – sold the idea of (business) stream-aligned teams to me. I’ve always thought, from the few big companies I worked for that teams should be stack-aligned: “frontend”, “backend”, “database” etc. But apparently this leads to a lot of friction – If I want to add a new User attribute, at some point I’ll have to ask the Database team who most likely already have a backlog and will “try to prioritize” my request on their own time. Having a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to a part of the business means I only need to talk to one team who have most likely spent a lot of time on this business domain and can either quickly tell me why my User attribute is not necessary or implement it with no regression.

Four Thousand Weeks (Oliver Burkman) – I often worry that I’m not being productive enough, but this book helped remove that anxiety. Time is finite, I have less than 4000 weeks left. Rather than trying to cram everything into it, I should prioritize and pick the things that truly matter. So what if other people are fitter than me, they chose to spend 70% of their time on it, I chose to spend 20% of mine. There’s no FOMO if I understand why I’m Missing Out.

Staff Engineer (Will Larson)– Work asked if I wanted to do some people management, I declined. This was probably my highest impact decision this year and it’s all because I read this book. (I’m exaggerating, there were other reasons I said no, but the book assured me that it won’t be career suicide if I stay as an individual contributor).

I Coded Some Stuff

My full-time job as a “software architect” meant less time spent on coding but thanks to the Great Tech Layoffs of 2022, I found myself doing a lot of serious coding after work. The fear of staying in the Architectural High Tower too long that I no longer know how to build something completely on my own keeps me up at night. Literally.

The result is the creation of an admin console of an IOT routing system I wrote years ago and have been maintaining since. I learned an amazing, new-ish front-end framework (Remix) and improved my front-end testing workflow.

Basic CRUD stuff

I also completely re-wrote a reporting system I built 2 years ago from a jumbled mess of lambda functions and scripts into a coherent “serverless microservice”.

Both are live, actively being used systems that I updated with no downtime and the minimal regression issues it caused were easily resolved. I’m quiet proud of what I accomplished here and I’ll try to write about it in a different post.

My architecture job has helped me write software more efficiently too. It sounds counter intuitive but my experience with micro-services has made it easier as a solo-coder to manage work. When things are neatly bounded into their own deployable services, I can effectively work on a smaller problem space.  

I Made Sacrifices

I only have 24 hours a day, most of it is already filled by my non-negotiables (family and work), so I must sacrifice some of my leisure time.

My life outside of work and home is almost nonexistent. Relationships were put on ice, if not already dead. This was the most painful to me because I know how important they are, but they also require a lot of time and effort. Working out is probably keeping my brain chemistry happy but it’s a weak substitute.

I used to spend hours sketching and learning how to draw. I still try to sneak a session when I’m eating alone during lunch breaks, but the dedicated hours of sitting down and focusing on drawing is gone. Because I can only really socialize at work, the lone lunch breaks have also gotten rarer.

Consuming media (video games, movies, tv) has also suffered. I can’t remember the last TV series I watched. I’m not a robot, I ended up binge playing a video game shortly after finishing a project. Maybe it’s my body’s way of resetting my system.

I’ve become a boring person.

Next Year

Maybe I’ll continue to be a boring person.

I want to build something new. I’ve been getting into the Product space to see if I can round up that professional weak spot. If I can release a small product next year then in 5 years I’ll be the next Elon Musk.

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