It’s that time of the year once again. It’s time to look back, draw some conclusions and get ready for the next year.
First of all, I’m tired. Somehow I feel more tired than in previous years. Both mentally and physically. At least one of us has been always sick in these last two months. For those who are sick, it’s obviously a physical burden, but if you’re not sick, you have more to do to help out the others, so it’s just tiring for everyone.
I don’t think that my level of tiredness will get much better in the coming months, but that’s for a good reason. More about that later on.
Let’s review what happened this last year and as always focus on the gain, not the gap.
I’m going to review my goals and whether I met them in three different categories and in addition I talk a little bit about the family.
Although the family is more important than anything else, I start discussing work as this blog is about software development and you’re here for that not to learn about how my life is in general.
So what were my goals for this year and have I met them?
I wanted to hit the ground running at Spotify as a senior engineer and bring significant value to the team. As it’s a very diverse team, I also wanted to profit from it and learn a bit of mobile engineering.
I wanted to also show by the end of the coming year that I’m capable of performing on a higher level and I can find some opportunities to do something transversal.
I partially met my first goal. I clearly brought value to the team and helped us move faster in certain projects. According to the feedback I received, colleagues appreciated my focus and the introduction of coding dojos. At the same time, I didn’t learn much about mobile engineering, which was not my or my team’s focus this year.
I did meet my second goal I think. I took on a kind of a side role within Spotify on my own which is related to C++ and I’m happy with it. Just as the year was ending, there were some other ideas in the team on how I could help increase the feeling of togetherness after the recent events.
Even though I write less code than I would prefer, I like my job at Spotify. I can learn and think a lot about how our codebase should look like and there is just enough time to tackle some debt and to hack, to try out new ideas. I finally got the push and time - also thanks to my colleagues - to play around with the clang AST, something I wanted to do for a long time.
Work outside work
Though I was a bit afraid that working for Spotify would make my work-life balance worse and I’d have less time to write, and less time for my personal projects, that’s not the case at all.
For this year though I didn’t have very ambitious goals.
Prepare a presentation about programming practices and executable sizes and maybe find some places to present it.
Finish the vomit draft of a (not so happy) novel that’s about the journey of an aspiring software developer.
I did meet the first goal, I prepared a presentation about binary sizes and presented a longer version of it at MUC++ and a shorter version of it at an internal conference in Spotify. I changed a lot the presentation based on the feedback I got at MUC++ and I already extended it. I hope to get it accepted for next year at a conference.
Regarding the second goal, I’m unsure. I progressed a lot with the draft, but I put it aside during the last few months for another project which I’m progressing well with.
Otherwise, if I consider work outside work, beyond my goals I can share the following updates.
I have kept writing my blog, I think the quality is slowly but steadily getting better (you tell me). My outreach is getting wider. I’m not focusing on that, but sometimes I do have a look at it as an interesting metric. I remember that in the beginning I barely had a few views a month and I knew exactly who opened my site. Nowadays I have about 20K views a month and people are occasionally reaching out just to say thanks or to correct my typos or misconceptions which I’m really grateful for.
I don’t read less than before, but a significant part of my readings were proofreadings. They are slower and of one the books is extremely long. One is for a friend’s book used at Hungarian universities and another is for Learning C++ by Michael Haephrati and Ruth Haephrati. I’ll share more on that in the coming months. I also hope that next year, I’ll be able to share more book reviews again.
I didn’t go to a lot of conferences, I didn’t want to abuse my management’s goodwill right away, plus I’m looking for conferences where most of my expenses are covered. Once again, I made it to C++ On Sea where I had a great time, not just presenting but also meeting old and new friends. I also went to DevTalks Cluj and that was a completely new experience for me. I didn’t submit any paper, it was the organizers of DevTalks Cluj who reached out to me and invited me to speak at their event. This was the first time that I got invited without actually having applied for a conference. It was a blast there in front of so many people!
Me ending my talk about clean code
When it comes to my hobbies, it was a partial failure.
This year, I want to dedicate at least 3x times a week 15 minutes to get better at playing the guitar.
I also want to follow some healthy sports habits, I’m more or less happy with what I achieved by the end of the year. I go for a 4-5 km walk almost every night, I use my chest expander 5 times a week and next year I also want to become a regular user of my pull-up bar.
I want to find a few minutes every evening before going to bed to do a bit of journaling.
I clearly didn’t get enough time to play the guitar and for the last few months, I didn’t even touch it.
On the sports habits part, I think I fared quite well, I want to keep continuing what I started.
On the journal side, I failed, I barely journal once or twice a week at best.
On the other hand, I spent a lot of time learning about wines, wine tasting and winemaking. I’ve been interested in these topics for a long time, but they were not on my priority list.
So what changed?
Technically, they haven’t changed, but they will. Your employer pays some money in your personal governmental learning funds, so if you want or need to learn something new, you can use those funds. But times are changing and the government plans to change how you can use your personal funds.
They only want to allow unemployed people to use this fund without paying a mandatory contribution. Hopefully, even if I lost my job, I wouldn’t be on the market for a long time. So I started some courses as long as I can do it for free and in the evenings I’m learning about wine and I just passed my second course a few days ago.
Regarding my family, I didn’t have goals per se.
My kids are growing and I spend a considerable time with my daughter helping with her homework. Next year, I expect to start the same with my son, who will also start school in 2024. It’s extremely rewarding to see how my daughter is reading better and better week by week and I’m happy that I have the patience and empathy to help her. Without my mentoring work over the last few years, I couldn’t have helped her the way I did.
In terms of vacations, this was a calmer year, but we visited family both in Sweden and in Hungary at the beginning of the year in one big trip. It turned out that it was cheaper to fly from Nice to Stockholm and then to Budapest and come back to Nice than just having a round trip between Nice and Stockholm… Quite crazy considering that we are speaking about the same airline company! At least I met more people and in Sweden, I could even say hello to some colleagues and visit the Spotify office.
There were quite some difficult moments this year with lots of bureaucracy and hard work. My wife had a tremendous job and also my brother helped a lot in Hungary.
As a consequence of everything, next year, we’ll move to a bigger place in a small village about 10 kilometres away from where we live now.
What’s next in 2024?
Enough about the past! Let’s see what I expect from myself in the future!
I want to continue what I started and be a valuable member of a high-performing team. I have to focus on not simply being an addition, but being a force multiplier. I don’t think that’s something completely new that I have to do. But I must take a bigger part in planning and refining our activities. I think with that it will also come that I’ll take a bigger share in influencing how we organise ourselves on a daily basis.
I find it difficult to be active in meetings because I like to take more time to think than meetings provide. I have to become more comfortable with just sharing ideas as is without having the time to verify them more deeply.
I also want to follow through on some transversal activities I started recently or ideas we agreed on in the team recently.
Work outside work
I would like to be there at least at one C++ conference this year and share what I learned about binary sizes. I’ll probably submit multiple proposals, but the binary proposal would be my preferred topic. I’ll not submit for many conferences, especially for overseas ones. I have to find the ones where I can participate without a personal financial investment and without travelling too much as time will be scarce in 2024.
I’d also like to prepare a proposal already for 2025 and maybe share it at a meetup during the fall.
I also want to finish my book on binary sizes during the first half of the year and then get back to my novel.
Regarding my blog, I still don’t have any goals for outreach or topics. I just write about what I consider useful, and what I learn. If that’s useful for others, I’m more than happy. The only thing I try to keep in mind is to write it high-quality.
I was thinking a lot about what title to give to this section. I don’t have high expectations for my hobbies this year. Renovating and moving to our new home seems already more than enough. If I get some extra time to spend on some hobbies, even better, I’ll be happy about that. So I go with the “lifestyle” subtitle.
I do not think I should consider journaling and moving a bit as hobbies. They are simply tools to keep my sanity. There is no surprise in that I journaled in 2023 mostly when I had difficult days. But if I can make it a habit again for most days, I think there will be fewer days that I live as stressful and difficult.
Besides exercising on a daily basis, I must pay attention not to overeating and know my habits, consuming too much in the evenings is the biggest danger. If I can keep that under control then achieving my weight goal will not be an issue at all.
I still don’t make goals regarding my family, my duties are my duties and they come in the first place, there is no need to goalify them.
In a certain way, 2023 might seem a slower year. Or a less successful year when it comes to my goals. But it was not a worse year, it was simply different. Lots of changes, and new circumstances that set the way forward as the months passed.
Now, I feel well-integrated into my team, into Spotify. I clearly delivered value. I also got the chance to travel a bit, both with my family and to some conferences and also to the Spotify Intro Days!
Though I didn’t plan it, I got the chance to tick off one of my bucket list items and I started to learn a lot about wines, I even got a certificate that I passed a sommelier exam.
2024 will be a long year with lots of work, but I’m quite excited about every aspect of it!
I wish you all a happy and successful new year!
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