I cannot believe another year has passed! And I really can’t believe that 2020 is upon us. The 2020 of flying cars, hoverboards and deep space exploration. But indeed it has, and that means that it is time for the traditional reflective year summary, a wrap-up blog, retrospective of sorts, on what I’ve achieved the past year, my biggest fails, what I’ve learned and what I am planning to do in 2020.
One of the best things about writing this article is that I will go back and read the ones I wrote the previous years. Which is really, really cool. It’s like having a conversation with past Jaime. And it’s also really surprising to see how many things happen and can be achieved within the space of a year. Just for these reasons, I encourage you to follow the same practice, even if you don’t publish it and it is for your eyes only. It’s a really enjoyable habit.
So! Let’s get to it then: In 2019…
2019 was a very interesting and quite atypical year1 in many different ways both in my personal life and at work. If I had to summarize it in a single sentence it would be: super cozy family year, lots of fun at work, sick and exhausted most of the time yet I got lots of stuff done.
I started the year on parental leave up until the end of March beginning of April when Teo started going to kindergarten and I went back to work. It was sad and a relief at the same time. I really enjoyed spending so much quality time with my son, but having him start kindergarten was a great experience for the both of us. He got to develop a lot in a very short amount of time, he had a lot of fun meeting new friends and being in a new and very engaging environment, and I got more time for myself and to go back to coding full time which is something I really enjoy doing.
I rejoined the Hangouts Meet team at Google after ~10 months of parental leave with lots of energy and enthusiasm, and it’s been a blast to go back to doing software development full time. It took me a while to regain my confidence as a software engineer, but every day, week and month that passed increased my confidence and contributions to the team. By the end of the year, I feel like I became a very strong contributor, leading a lot of initiatives and having a strong impact in what we have delivered. I even started a front-end guild to create a local community around front-end software development in our office in Stockholm, because I love hanging out, sharing ideas about code and encouraging people to learn from each other.
I am so very grateful to all the people (my wife Malin and my colleagues at Google) that supported me in me coming back to Software Development. I’m so much more happy and at peace working on something I really enjoy doing and having all the bits within my life align so much better. Thank you!. (If you’re curious about this I wrote about it in this article).
It was a surprisingly tough year as a parent, even though it wasn’t as utterly exhausting as the first year it was difficult in a different way. I think the trickiest part has been to balance work and life as a parent and having those two responsibilities weighting on me throughout the day. That plus being sick really, really often with Teo bringing ultrapowerful germs from kindergarten into the holy sanctuary of our home (It is crazy, I’ve never been so sick, so often in my life, and I used to be one of those persons who never got sick). In an ideal world I would have plenty of energy for both but I haven’t yet cracked that problem and I’d often pass out on the couch now and then after work and after spending some time with Teo. Malin has far more energy than I do, and is a constant inspiration on what it means to be an awesome parent. Malin is awesome.
As tough as it is, it is also wonderful to spend time with my Malin and Teo, and following along as Teo grows into an awesome person. The development he’s experienced throughout this year has been amazing to behold and ~2 years is my favorite age of his thus far. It has also been really cool to be support him along the way, teach him new things and give him lots of love.
Work, parenting and exhaustion leave few time and energy to do anything else but I somehow managed to work on some side projects and community contributions. I think that the secret here is that even when the conditions and the environment for doing stuff are quite adverse, a little bit of consistent work over time produces great results.
- I started writing Wizards Use Vim, a new and wonderful book on Vim that I couldn’t finish in 2019. I’ve been using Vim since 2013, and after a ton of in-depth experimentation with it in 2018 I embarqued on a quest to make Vim more approachable to everyone with my my book Wizards Use Vim. I wrote ~200 pages mostly at the beginning of the year, and then I did something strange, I jumped to working on a different book: Boost Your Coding Fu with VSCode and Vim.
- I wrote and published Boost Your Coding Fu. The original idea was that Boost Your Coding Fu was going to be a very short book, very drafty, like one of those 30 pages books some people give away to get readers subscribed to their blog. But once I started writing it I couldn’t help myself, so I wrote it and started improving it, iterating, reviewing, perfecting it some more, and it ended up been a solid and short (140p) book which I completed in July.
- I built a website for Boost Your Coding Fu, with an online reading experience open for anybody to read, learn and enjoy. I also recorded lots of videos with step by step VSCodeVim tutorials.
- I redesigned Barbarian Meets Coding and added a crazy fantasy conan-inspired pixel art animation to its front page:
I wrote 40 articles in my blog this year of diverse lengths and topics. This is crazy because I think this is the most articles I’ve written ever in this blog during a year.
- I redesigned and relaunched my newsletter with more personal articles, wrote 8 newsletters and when life got pretty tough I kind of paused it.
- In addition to my blog, I put a lot of my content on dev.to, an amazing, warm and super welcoming community for software developers. At the end of the year I reached 15K subscribers2 which is pretty amazing.
My favorite articles this year were:
- Don’t Give Up Keep Iterating
- Boost Your Coding Fu With VSCode and Vim
- The Best Way to Advance Your Career
- Exploring Vim Plugins: A Methodology to Become 1% Better Every Week
- Exploring Vim Plugins: Improve and Extend Your Text Objects With targets.vim
- TypeScript Types Deep Dive
- Discovering Svelte
- Jaime’s Guide to Tmux: The Most Awesome Tool You Didn’t know you needed
- Polyglot Programming in Vim (or How to Get A Great Developer Experience for Any Language in Vim)
- I created more YouTube content this year that any other year up until now with 18 videos. Creating videos is a ton of fun but it has proved really challenging. Mainly because I’ve found very hard to find a suitable time to record videos given that I have a toddler around with massive powers of mayhem and destruction, and a light sleep.
- My channel grew to 278 subscribers. Wiho!
- I also tweaked the design of my channel.
- I created an experimental podcast where I narrate the Boost Your Coding Fu With VSCode and Vim book with a strong yet soothing voice. I completed 7 chapters.
- I also created a website for the podcast and made it available on iTunes and Google Podcast. I wrote an article on my wiki on how to do that if you want to do the same.
- I was interviewed by the Frontmatter podcast about my life, my career at Google, and my experiences as an author.
My speaking contributions in 2019 were very small. This hasn’t changed so much since I became a dad. This year I spoke on two events:
In the olden days I didn’t have a problem participating or organizing events after work hours, but today with the life of a parent it becomes harder and harder to justify. I just enjoy spending time with my family too much, and supporting my wife in taking care of Teo who can be quite a handful. I think that’s a very strong reason why I haven’t been doing more of these in-person speaking thingies, it is far easier and more convenient for me to just write or record something when Teo is sleeping.
- In 2019 I read 48 books. I also started and didn’t finish dozens more. I wrote an article about my favorite books in 2019, so if you’re looking for new books to read you may want to take a look at that.
- In addition to the above, I also “read 23 books” on blinkist. If you haven’t heard about blinkist it’s a service where they summarize the most important ideas in very diverse and popular books. I’m not sure if I quite like it yet, sometimes it can feel very superficial, but one thing that I like about it is that it exposes me to lots of ideas that I wouldn’t peruse normally because I’d never prioritize that time investment.
- Even though it has been a great year overall, this year I felt very often that I was in survival mode, being sick and/or exhausted for long periods of the year. I felt very often that, just as I was about to come back to a good spot of working out, having energy, doing things, something would happen that would knock me back down.
- I tend to spread myself too thin over too many activities and projects.
- Exercising and working out hasn’t been great this year. I’ve had some good runs throughout the year but combining work, family and working out hasn’t really worked out. I so need to get better at this.
- I still downprioritize sleep when I shouldn’t. This is a constant struggle as a parent when stealing time from sleep hours is the only way you can find some time to invest in yourself.
- We used to travel a lot, but we haven’t done much of that this year. That’s something that I definitely want to go back next year, because it is very enjoyable and I think it’s great for Teo to get exposed to different cultures.
In 2020 I want to kick ass even more! But we’ll talk about that tomorrow. Now it’s time to cook a great New Year’s Eve dinner. Happy 2019! And an even happier 2020!
The life of a first-time parent is likely very atypical year after year as your child develops and you get confronted with new challenges and life routines.↩
Subscribers are often referred to as followers. But I am not Jesus Christ so I prefer to call them subscribers. e.g. people that are interested in the content that I write and find that content helpful and useful enough to subscribe for more.↩
Written by Jaime González García , Dad, Husband, Front-end software engineer, UX designer, amateur pixel artist, tinkerer and master of the arcane arts. You should follow him on Twitter where he shares useful stuff! (and is funny too).Follow @vintharas