I can never bring myself to do New Year's resolutions. They're such a cliché at this point. Nobody expects you to keep them, and they're either too vague and therefore any behavior can count, or they're too specific and you can't win.
But I'm a big fan of continually doing retrospectives. Software teams do these to ensure they're delivering the right thing the right way, and I like to do these every now and then to ensure I'm on a track I like. The beginning of a new year seems like a great time to reflect on the past one.
So: I like a simple retro format. What were our goals? What were the things we did that we should double-down on – either because we liked them or because they helped us achieve our goals? What were the things we should do less of, or that we can improve on?
2018 was a shitty setup for 2019
My goals for last year, then, were pretty vague and simple. Don't rebound into a position I was going to regret. Figure out how to do something different.
2019: The Good Parts
I spent the majority of the year consulting for CoverMyMeds. This was a good thing, as it kept me busy with a project where I was accountable for an outcome, and I got to hang out with some of the old crew again, which was fun.
It was also good because it showed me pretty definitively that I made the right choice when I moved on. CoverMyMeds has only gotten bigger and slower since its acquisition by McKesson, and while it's still an amazing place and will forever be the billion dollar company I helped build, it's no longer a place that I can be. The ship has sailed.
My consultation with CMM was pretty laissez-faire, and gave me the kind of freedom I needed to keep the other parts of my life running:
- I gave a talk! Nothing major, just a simple introduction to test-driven development in the context of saving a doomed app launch at CMM, but it was fun putting together a talk and a deck and getting up in front of folks to give it. (I gave it a second time, at CRB, but when you're the president and can put yourself on the speaker list whenever you want, it just doesn't have the same feel.)
- Every day, I was able to help pick up the kids from school and hang out with them. Being home with my kids and devoting the evening to the family has been absolutely wonderful, and an amazing privilege.
- I started therapy. I'm a pretty anxious person, and I've had a few depressive episodes over the past few years, and I've never actually dealt with them. I've just kind of coped. Ish. Therapy's been incredibly helpful, and if you have the means I highly recommend it.
- Working with a few local startups on tech and corporate matters has been fun. I'd like to expand that out if I can!
- Some friends have had rough 2019s, and being in a position where I can stop what I'm doing and rush folks out for beer and conversation, or just late-night commiserating, has been tremendously rewarding.
- Serving as my brother's Best Man at his wedding was an honor. I got to plan a bachelor party I'm pretty sure my liver is still recovering from, and I wrote and delivered a speech that brought tears to the eyes of family members. I mean, achievement unlocked.
- Vacationing to New York with the family and kids was a blast.
Things To Improve
- I got to spend more time organizing Columbus Ruby Brigade but there were still some things that fell off the radar and didn't get done. I'm hoping in 2020 to be a little more thoughtful about goals for that organization, espeically as it's my last consecutive year I can be a board member!
- They don't bear getting into, but there were some family issues I could have handled better. It's hard to predict how certain actions will affect folks, but I should make sure I'm not stepping into obvious blunders.
- It turns out, when you work from home 100% of the time, it's easy to develop a habit of drinking with lunch. And after lunch -- I mean who doesn't mind an afternoon beer to help the creative juices flow? ...and sometimes before lunch, because you're thirsty and that's never a problem sign. I mean doesn't everyone keep a pint of irish whiskey in their office for emergencies? Oh. This is a trend I've started reversing the past few months, and it's going well, but as a formal retro item it's good to keep track of.
- My workout routine has fluctuated between getting-close-to-regular and flatline. I should get back into a regular routine.
- Actually routines have been difficult. I'm working on ways to better track what things I have to be doing.
Please join us tomorrow for two hours of sprint planning followed by complaining about point systems. At least that's how I remember ending retros in the past.