Life

 

It’s the last day of the year! 2016 was okay for me. Mostly it was all about keeping my head down and working hard. Things finally paid off near the end of the year, and I breathed a little sigh of relief before I got back to the grind. It seems like it was a harder year for the people around me. I saw friends and family go through a few really tough transitions – moves, lost jobs, illnesses, divorces… And even if your personal life was fine, just on a global scale 2016 was a dumpster fire of a year, which is depressing.

I did meet my modest goals from last year:

  • Finish my program and find a job (aka the BIG goal) – Check. I finished Flatiron oh only about THREE months after my “worst case scenario” due date for finishing. I took a month off to study for interviews, then went full throttle through two months of interviewing to score my first programming gig. Things didn’t go down at all like how I’d hoped or imagined, but I’m pleased with the final outcome.  I like my new job a lot, and I feel really lucky that I get to code all day long with nice people. So yay, career change.
  • Network with the San Francisco dev community – Check! In January I met other Bay Area folks in my program, and they’ve been a great support group throughout the year. We had a few happy hours, study groups and even went down to Netflix to watch a documentary about computer science and minorities. Oh, and we went to our first hackathon as well. We got nothing accomplished, but it was so much fun. I also attended 2 conferences this year: ForwardJS in SF, and RubyConf in Cincinnati.
  • I also eased my way into the programming meetup scene. Favorite events: Women Who Code’s Beyond the Basics nights, FreeCodeCamp’s weekly study group, Code for San Francisco’s Weekly Hack Night. I went to so many events that I finally started recognizing people!
TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon with my Learn buds
TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon with my Learn buds
  • Redecorate apartment – Check! There were lots of little changes here and there, but most notably we totally redid the little room, making it into a study and guest room.

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  • Maintain and grow close relationships. – The new guest room got a fair bit of use. My mom visited several times, my cousin came for a weekend, Ryan’s brother stayed with us, and a few other friends and family members stayed as well.  I mentioned in one of my last posts that I was a major hermit for the summer and fall. That’s not great, and I can’t say I’ve been way better since starting a new job, but I’ve been trying to keep in touch with friends online at least.
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House of Prime Rib. The smallest person gets the most meat.
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My aunt Charlene was Woman of the Year!
  • Stop looking like crap – The jury is still out on this one. My company is very casual, so I don’t have much of an incentive to look nicer than normal. I’ve been having  a lot of luck with ThredUp, so at least I’m not spending much money while I try to figure out a new style.

2017 Goals

Given all the crazy sad shit happening in the world, this sounds selfish… but in 2017 I’d like to focus on self care.

  • Read daily – I renewed my subscriptions to The New Yorker and The Economist, and I’ve figured out how to listen to audiobooks from the library.
  • Drink tea daily – I am not sure how, why or when I stopped regularly drinking tea, but I’ve rebuilt my tea stash, and now I’m back in the game. TEA LIFE.
  • Do yoga daily in the morning
  • Drop some big $$$ on dope skincare – Yep, it’s finally time to upgrade to the good stuff. Serums! Retinol! Hydroquinone! Let’s do it!
  • Visit friends and family. Be more in touch.
  • Travel – Beyond seeing friends and family, I’m interested in Scotland, Cuba, Nepal, and oh yeah, going on a cruise, preferably one of those old people cruises they advertise on NPR.
  • Work – Keep learning and working hard to be a decent software developer. Be a thoughtful coworker. Hit up 2 programming conferences. Continue going to meetups.
Life

The other day Ryan mentioned that it was high time that I take down my framed New Year’s Resolutions, which sit on my desk next to an unfinished Stitch Lego sculpture and too much fucking washi tape.

“Why would I do that?” I asked, bracing myself for what I knew was coming next.

“Well, you’re not applying to grad school, you are nowhere close to seeing your family 5 times this year,  maybe you’ll do a chin up… If I were you, that’s just really depressing. I wouldn’t want to look at that everyday and be reminded of my failures.”

Maybe I’m performing some intense mental gymnastics, or I’m just used to the nature of New Year’s resolutions, but I definitely don’t feel depressed that I am not on track to complete my goals.

In my mind, these specific benchmarks I created all have a greater motivation behind them, so it doesn’t matter if I don’t do exactly what I said I would, as long as I make progress in that area of my life.

For example, do a chin up – it would be cool to do a chin up, but what’s really important is for me to continue my strength training, which I’ve done. For applying to grad school, the deeper goal is to further my career and somehow bring more programming into my job. That is happening slowly. (Also I want to note that I have been frugal this year, and I was writing consistently in my journal up to a point, so hey, some things are working.)

So, yeah I’m not sad when I look at my list. This is shallow, but what I’m more worried about is what my friends think of my changes of heart. For example, several years ago I said that I wanted to be a marriage and family therapist. I told everyone. I looked into it, researched MFT programs and signed up to work with the Friendship Line (elderly suicide hotline). After putting about 6 months of work into that path, I scrapped it. The reality of a therapist’s hustle and the fun of dealing with health insurance red tape was not what I wanted for my life. While I had done my due diligence in investigating this career path, I still felt embarrassed when I had to tell others that I had changed my mind. Right now I’m doing a similar “pivot” and I worry about not appearing serious enough about my goals.

On a slightly related note, lately quite a few people in my life have had job changes (mostly voluntary) and so I’ve been a patient ear in too many soul searching “what should I do with my life?!!” conversations. I usually enjoy these chats because it’s fun to hear other people’s dreams.

This time around, I’ve found myself getting angry at any signs of flakiness and lack of follow-through in my friends. I know that this is partly me projecting my feelings of inadequacy about changing my own damn mind, but on the other hand, some of my friends are actually really flaky. They come up with grand ideas and never follow through, or give up quickly.

Or even worse, they are chronic complainers. It’s really draining to regularly listen to someone whine about their recurring problems, discuss solutions, and then have them shoot down whatever you suggest, or see them do absolutely nothing to improve their situation. Next time we meet up, we’re having the same conversation. Rinse, repeat. We’re too old for this shit!

I’m still trying to figure out how to act in order to be supportive, but also to protect myself emotionally. The best I can come up with is to listen, and try to avoid giving advice. When the conversation is over, I take a big breath and “let it go.” It’s a bit of structured detachment, and it’s hard. It goes against my natural tendencies to get overly involved in my friends’ lives. But I gotta let it go, in order focus on my own goals.

Anyone have tips for dealing with friends stuck in a rut, or acting consistently negative?

Life

New Year, New You

The blogosphere has been a bit overwhelming lately. I usually enjoy all the Year in Review and Resolutions posts. I like reading between the lines for drama (especially juicy breakups, so good), and reading resolutions is inspiring. But now everybody’s posting 12 part retrospectives with each and every month’s highlights and struggles? Phew, exhausting stuff. I mean, it’s already boring thinking about my past year. Plus these photo heavy posts take forever to load!

Even more annoying than the trend of month by month breakdowns is the hot new un-resolution trend of choosing a single word to manifest in the coming year. Common words I’ve seen: create, balance, gratitude, embrace, enough, beauty. BARF. The New York Times has gotten ahold of this trend, so it’s totally basic by now.

Anyways, here in my little 11 x 10 corner of the world, I’m sticking to my personal tried and true: setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. That’s right, going Six Sigma on my life. I learned about SMART at an old job, and while I didn’t meet my professional goals there (it was the type of place that talked about goals, but didn’t really honor them when it came to resources), SMART has been great for my personal life!

Specific / Measurable / Achievable / Relevant / Time Bound

I had a little trouble coming up with goals for the year, so I tried to remember what I did in 2014. It was a pretty good year. I feel like for the most part I handled most challenges like a rational and kind human being. While I didn’t expect much out of the year except a serious grind at work, looking back I accomplished quite a bit.

Health

  • Mostly, it was a big year for fitness. For some reason my running got better in the beginning of the year. I honestly don’t know what I did differently. Riding that wave of success, I decided to do a half marathon (inconceivable!). I tried a few new types of exercise for fun (Insanity, Zumba, kettlebells), but due to the race training I ended up settling into a weekly routine of lifting/Pilates, running, and yoga. With the intense training schedule and a slightly cleaner diet, I dropped 15 pounds in about 7 months. So I lost the extra pounds I put on last year and then some.
  • I also tackled my general moodiness with a few new tools and found myself feeling much better by winter. No Seasonal Affective Disorder- huge win!

$$$ / Hustle

  • I made February a frugal month, which was a needed reset after the holidays. Overall for the year, I didn’t save that much, which was disappointing. Surprisingly, I still hit my net worth goal of 100k, pretty much all in retirement funds. 😀
  • I started an Etsy shop.While I haven’t made a ton of money from it, it’s been a really fun side project. I’ve even gotten some touching emails from customers. Can’t complain.
  • I got a promotion at work, which is good, but not a surprise.

Education

  • This sounds silly, but I finally finished a class on Coursera. Two, in fact. For years I’ve been signing up and dropping out weeks later-my secret shame. For the record, the Wharton Intro to Marketing class is really interesting, and doesn’t require much of a time commitment.
  • I started learning R & Python this year. It makes my brain hurt a lot, but I’m glad I finally got serious about it.
  • Not learning my lesson the first time, in a fit of madness I began seriously contemplating grad school. I’ve found a few part time night and weekend programs that look promising (Berkeley?), but I’ve got a lot of work to do to apply, starting with prereqs.

Relationships

  • 2013 ended with me kicking out a roommate, which was awkward but necessary. Two roommates later Ryan moved in. While it was a bit bumpy adjusting to the change, overall it has been positive. Despite having less privacy I think our relationship has gotten better. Also everybody in the house gets along, which makes it such a happier atmosphere. No more worrying about being attacked by a drunk roommate.
  • I visited Los Angeles 3 times in 2014, which is better than the year before but not great.
  • The floor in our bathroom rotted out and everything had to be gutted. I developed quite the daily relationship with the annoying handymen. I thought maybe I would learn to love them, but no. It was terrible.

2015 Goals- Building on 2014. Challenging, but doable.

  • See my family 4-5x this year. I’m really hoping to land one of those 1$ MegaBus tickets. One dollar!!!!
  • To fulfill my prereqs I’m taking two after work college classes this semester. I’d like to make it through without losing my shit (is that measurable?). Since I’m going to have to study during most of my non-work time, I need to learn to accept “good enough” and to let go of control by delegating tasks to others. This is actually really hard for me.
  • Be more frugal. Save up enough money for another year off. Safety money.
  • Journal daily. I’m using a 2015 daily planner as a journal. So far, so good. Surprisingly, the 2015 Moleskine daily planners are extremely popular -Amazon is sold out of most models. AMAZON.
  • Work on my lifting and get some super strong arms. Goal: chin ups.

So there you have it. I found this holiday card on sale at the art store, and filled it out with my goals. It’s staring at me every day. No excuses!

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