Why I’m writing this

As 2018 winds down, it’s time to join the swelling ranks of bloggers in reflecting on 2018 and looking forward to 2019.

Although I make time to reflect on progress against goals throughout the year, the end of year has a special psychological property of closing the books on 2018 while preparing to begin a new chapter in 2019. Increasingly it’s becoming  more difficult for organic reflection to occur. There’s a never ending sensory bombardment engineered to hijack your attention. Reflection is like sleep. Without it, personal growth is unlikely to occur, and if it does, it will be substantially limited. Making time to reflect is important in all aspects of life. Critical, focused thought is a precursor to identifying growth areas and developing a thoughtful plan to address them.  

To that end, it’s time to dust off the blog and commit my thoughts around what went well this year and what I plan to focus on next year.

Technology changes

With technology playing an increasingly integrated role in life, I would be remiss to reflect on 2018 without mentioning the key tech trends in my personal life. Professionally, there’s a great deal of changes occurring and to read a more thoughtful analysis unconstrained by confidentiality agreements, head over to Stratechery.

Exist.io

I finally found a system that met a balanced criteria of privacy, usability, and scope. I’ve previously written about exist.io, a platform that integrates a wide array of different tracking tools and generates insights.  It’s been just under a year since I’ve started using Exist and I plan to continue using it in 2019 and beyond.

Exist continues to help paint an objective “big picture” of my life. This makes it much easier to identify trends over time and tune them to the outcomes I want.

At its core, Exist takes data from many different platforms ranging from nutrition and activity trackers to entertainment services and performs analysis to help identify correlations and trends. This fills a huge gap of aggregating the vast amount of personal behaviors and data generated each day while conveniently summarizing it in digestible bites. At the conclusion of each day, I spend two minutes subjectively rating the day and jotting down any memorable moments or happenings. It’s essentially a form of journaling that combines objective data with my own subjective thoughts and feelings.

You can learn more about Exist here.

Home Assistant

I continued to tinker with Home Assistant throughout 2018, an open source home automation platform. Similar to Exist, Home Assistant’s real value is communicating with vast number of services that each exist in their own ecosystem and uniting them under a single platform.

This year I’ve greatly expanded the number of smart home sensors and devices while refining the automation that occur within my living space. As a renter, Home Assistant has been a great tool from simple occupancy based lighting to establishing a solid, DIY security system. I’m in the process of building a home that will be completed in 2019 and am looking forward to expanding the scope of my smart home to include more permanent solutions such as Z-wave outlets. It’s an exciting time in the home automation space. With so many standards and brands competing, having a system that integrates them into a single state machine and UI is immensely valuable.

You can learn more about Home Assistant here.

Migration to Linux based devices

I finally consolidated to all Linux based devices in 2018. Earlier in the year, I sold the components from a huge gaming rig I built a few years. A few months later, I parted ways with my last Windows based device – a Surface Pro. Currently, I’m running Linux Mint on an Intel NUC as my primary home computing device. For mobile I use an Android phone and laptop powered by Chrome OS, both based on the Linux kernel.

One thing I’m looking forward to, possibly in 2019, is Google’s next gen Fuchsia OS.

While Android and Chrome OS have made great progress over the years, it’s still frustrating how they don’t seamlessly integrate all the time. With Fuchsia, the ability to pick up on a laptop what you started on a mobile device will become the standard. For developers, it’ll leverage Google’s Flutter framework which enables Android and iOS mobile first development to occur with a single code base.

What went well

Professional growth

At work, I started 2018 with a promotion to a vice president level role. This was a big milestone and something I intentionally worked towards over the past 18 months. It was immensely rewarding to realize the outcome of working hard towards a goal. Additionally, it’s been very satisfying to be entrusted with greater scope and more complex challenges.

Later in the year, I had the opportunity to visit India for work and meet some incredible individuals while experiencing a rich culture very different than my own. Overall, the trip was a great learning experience and I look forward to going back at some point in the future.

Finally, I was recognized for high performance and selected to represent my employer at the Forbes 30 Under 30 event in Boston. This was an incredible opportunity and a truly humbling experience to be among 7k+ of the best and brightest young minds across the world from diverse backgrounds ranging from AI developers to cannabis capitalists.

Building a home

I started the process of building a new home and look forward to taking the leap of becoming a homeowner in 2019.  I’ve been a renter my entire adult life so I’m excited to finally experience the challenges and benefits of home ownership. As a bonus, I’ll finally have a garage to park in…

Keto + IF

From a health perspective, I had immense success with not only losing weight (around 45 pounds over 4 months), but also improving a number of key biomarkers including metabolic and lipid panels, blood pressure and heart rate variability through a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting eating protocol. I measured this thorough Private MD Labs, a private lab testing service in the US. I eventually derailed myself after a period of travel, which completely disrupted my routine.

As a goal for 2019, I’m planning on getting back on this protocol and sustaining it throughout the year which leads me to the final part of this post…

What I want to focus on in 2019

There are four goals I’ll be focusing on next year.

Part of writing this post is to publicly display them for accountability. If you see me slipping, I hope you call me out.

Credentialing

I recently re-enrolled in school to finish my undergraduate degree. After years of putting it off, now is the right time to complete a information systems degree, something I’ve worked towards on and off over the years. Although I’m scheduled to graduate in early 2020, my goal is to attend year-round in 2019.

Additionally, I’m scheduled to sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam sometime in the first half of 2019 and am diligently studying in preparation. After completing PMI’s agile certified practitioner this year, I have a solid study framework in place and am confident I’ll pass the first time around.

Fine tuning health (alcohol / keto / IF)

After successfully using keto + IF to lose weight, I promptly gained much of it back after I derailed myself. It happens…

In 2019, I plan to resume keto + IF and eliminate alcohol intake.

Together, these steps will  result not only in significant weight loss, but more importantly boost energy levels which will be crucial to keeping up with all my personal, professional, and academic responsibilities.

Monthly posts

My goal for this site is to post once a month.

I’m still thinking through the post format as I’ll continue avoiding writing about politics, work, or any other topics that could cause problems down the road. That said, I’m leaning towards a format of posing a question and then sharing my thoughts around it each month. Whatever I end up doing, I’ll have at least one post each month to share.

Read 36 books

Finally, I didn’t complete my 2018 challenge of reading 36 books.

Although there are a few days left in the year, I’ll close out the year with 20 completed books. Next year, I’m keeping the goal at 36 books which works out to 3 books each month. Next year, I’d like to do a better job balancing the genres to avoid only reading fiction or only focusing on professional development.

See you in 2019!