We made it kids! Another revolution. Another 365(ish) rotations. And now that the days are starting to get longer again (here in the northern hemisphere that is) it’s that natural time to count blessings, take stock, and reflect on the year that’s been.
I admit: I take a lot of joy in doing this.
So many people, year after year, whinge about how terrible the past 12 months have been. I don’t get it. Or, more accurately, they don’t get it. Maybe they’ve never felt that incomparable feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing a goal. Perhaps they’ve never heard the song your soul sings when you’re really, truly grateful for even the smallest pleasure that life provides. They probably don’t know that happiness is a choice or that the only thing any of us really have control over is our own reactions. Maybe you’re one of these people and you’re rolling your eyes right now, or even yelling at your computer alone in the dark “it’s not that easy!” Well, my friend, it isn’t easy – but it is simple:
- Visualize the person you want to be and the world you want to live in.
- Set and pursue goals that will move you towards your vision.
- Be grateful for everything. Every. Thing.
So anyway, thanks for joining me for one of my favorite bits of life: Looking back at all that has happened, and all that I’ve done in this past year.
2019: My Three Words
For the past few years, I’ve been using a practice of choosing and focusing on three words each year. For 2019, my three words were:
I chose learning in order to shift my focus from accomplishment to growth. I wanted to focus on learning from every situation, rather than on trying to master every situation. This was all about giving myself permission to be a novice, to not always have to be the expert. It was about being patient with myself as I seek expertise in new fields. And it paid off. I learned a ton in 2019, but more than that, my state of mind has shifted: It just feels so obvious now that my primary purpose in life is to learn. This is something I had started to forget, and using this word as a mantra re-focused me on what’s really important to me: Learning. Gold star!
I added teaching as one of my words to become a better leader and a better father. This one is all about overcoming the curse of knowledge and focusing on explaining the why’s. It’s about sharing what I know but more than that it’s about understanding what I know and how to best communicate it. In practical terms, this was about blogging, presenting, and getting our new go-to-market strategy rolled out at Myriad360. I wasn’t as prolific as I had hoped (see goals below) but I did learn a lot and by the end of the year had significantly re-framed my approach to teaching. Silver star!
And then there’s consistency, a word I added because it’s a powerful tool that I have historically been completely incapable of putting into practice. I’ve been a neophile to a fault. My love of the new, of the unique, of the different has previously made much of routine absolutely loathsome for me. Problem is, you gotta brush your teeth. You gotta wash the dishes. And you have to practice every day to build your skills like compound interest. I continued to struggle with long-term daily routine in 2019 but I did make massive strides and have positioned myself well to continue this growth in 2020, consistently. Bronze star, with a bullet!
I was going to jump straight into a review of my 2019 goals. I decided that throwing in some quick travel stories would keep you reading longer.
In 2019 I spent about 93 days away from home, visiting 15 cities in 4 countries on 14 distinct trips. And not all of it was for work!
First, the work stuff. This year I attended:
- An Open-IX board meeting,
- Tech Field Day 18,
- NANOG 75,
- NANOG 76,
- International Telecoms Week,
- New England Peering Forum,
- VMworld & Future:NET,
- Cloud Field Day 6,
- (ISC)2 Security Congress,
- Cisco Partner Summit,
- Juniper NXTWORK,
- and a meeting with a stealth-mode start-up I’m advising.
Our Spain “Trifecta”
Neither my partner nor I had ever been to Spain, so we took two weeks this past May to explore three of the best (and most famous) Spanish cities.
We started with 3 nights in Madrid. This included lots of art museums, a couple palaces, and lots of eating – oh, and an amazing Flamenco show!
Then we popped over to Ibiza for a long weekend. We staid in a castle overlooking the harbor, explored the island (including tons of beaches) in an S3 convertible, hit a couple parties (including Pacha and Odyssey), and ate a ton more great food!
We rounded out our “trifecta” with 4 nights in Barcelona. There we checked out a couple amazing cathedrals (including the Sagrada Familia), a bunch of great street art, and of course, even more food – including a 40-course meal at Enigma; possibly the best dining experience I’ve ever had.
Our Mountain Getaway
Right in the middle of 2019, across June and July, we spent a couple weeks in my home state of Colorado. We spent time with my Mom, lots of time with my kids, had dinner with my ex-wife, went to my 20 year high school reunion, ran an independence day 10k at 10k feet above sea level, saw tons of great friends, went on lots of hikes, drove around in a Cadillac XT-5 (thanks Sixt!), spent a day on a boat, and even toured an old mine.
Eva’s Birthday Trip
Since we’ve been together, we’ve made it a habit to take a trip for each others’ birthday’s. It works out since mine is in February and her’s is in October. Makes a nice bookend for the year. Of course, we don’t do it EVERY birthday every year. Like this year we skipped mine to explore Spain a bit later in the year. But we did get out of the country for Eva’s b-day. And let me tell you: Tulum is pretty amazing. We were there about a week. As you might guess, the trip included lots of beach clubs (including Casa Malca) and great restaurants (especially Arca), as well as a good amount of lounging at our gorgeous jungle cabana – complete with its own cenote!
Okay, ok, time for the part you’ve been waiting for… How did I do against my 2019 goals?
I set the following goals in January:
- Read 50+ books
- Write 50+ blog posts
- Run 750+ km
- Save X thousand dollars
- Earn a Vice President title at Myriad360
Then, based on progress at that point, I updated my goals in July:
- Run 500+ km
- Read 60+ books
- Write 30+ blog posts
- Meditate on 150+ days
- Save X thousand dollars
- Earn the CTO spot at Myriad360
That probably complicates this read out, so let’s look at a quick matrix to make sense of it all:
Well, that’s a lot of red. So, what do we make of it? Was 2019 terrible?!?
Nope, 2019 was amazing, but you knew I was going to say that, right? Let’s take a look at the details to see what’s really what.
According to Strava, I ran 369km in 2019. Well short of either of my goals for the year. Quite a bit over the 250 or so km I ran in 2018 though, and night and day to the 0 km I ran in 2017. Also, in 2019 I ran my first trail run, my first 10k, and my first half-marathon!
Consistency was my problem. Specifically I often let travel disrupt my routine for long periods. Like the 11 day trip to Vegas where I didn’t start running again until about 6 weeks later… But now I truly enjoy running and am looking forward to really accelerating in 2020.
This is one of the bright spots in 2019 as it relates to goal achievement. While I didn’t hit my stretch goal of 60 books, I did beat my original goal. I ended up finishing 52 books. Yes, that’s an average of one a week, all year!
Audible helped a lot, as most of these books were “read” by listening on my commute. I plan to keep this up in 2020.
Here are 10 of the books I read in 2019 that I would definitely recommend (in no particular order):
I’m thinking about trying out GoodReads this year to keep track. Any thoughts or alternatives?
Well, I did not write 30 blog posts in 2019, which means I definitely didn’t make my original goal of 50+. However, I did put out some pretty great content – even if I do say so myself. Let’s take a look:
- Five posts here on my personal blog; including this cybersecurity manifesto.
- A new short story on Medium (adult content).
- My insight was published on Forbes.com four times; on cybersecurity, IoT, blockchain, and edge computing.
- Four posts for GestaltIT about Future:NET and NSX.
- Three blog posts and two flyers on Myriad360.com.
- Presented at NANOG 75, NEPF 2019, and (ISC)2 Security Congress.
- Recorded two On-Premise podcasts; one on Cloud and one on Digital Transformation.
- Also, recorded a webinar with Cumulus Networks.
- Oh, and I was a delegate at four Tech Field Day events!
I meditated on 58 days in 2019. A far cry from the 150 I was shooting for. Again, this comes down to having a consistent daily routine. We’ll call 2019 a growth year in this department and use what I’ve learned to launch into 2020 strong!
I hit my target of a two month cash reserve. I’ve never been great about saving but in 2019 I became much more diligent. And I’m looking forward to carrying this good habit with me into the next decade.
So my final goal was all about moving my career forward while moving Myriad forward. After getting promoted in the first half of the year, I set an admittedly unrealistic goal of being promoted again in the second half. While that did not happen, I did pick up a couple additional teams to manage.
At the end of 2019, five different teams now roll up to me, and only two of them have their own manager (so lot’s of player-coaching). I’m now responsible for:
- Solution Architecture (pre-sales engineering),
- Technical Service Delivery (post-sales engineering),
- Strategic Alliances (partner relationships),
- Marketing, and
Across those 5 teams I was accountable for 4 different objectives with a total of 11 key results. And I’m pretty proud to tell you that 9 of the key results were completed. That means that 3 out of 4 objectives were completely successful and the final one hit about 70% of what we wanted to do. Not too shabby.
So let’s just say I’ve been busy. It’s been a ton of fun though, and led to a lot of learning!
2019: That’s All Folks
If you’ve read this far, you must think I’m far more interesting than I do. Hi Mom!
Seriously though, let’s make 2020 our best year yet!
Visualize the world you want to live in. Set goals that will help make it a reality. Hold yourself accountable for pursuing those goals. And never forget to stop, notice, and be grateful for all the things along the way.