2018 Retrospective: Wins, Woes and Lessons Learned

It’s pretty easy to forget personal triumphs and focus solely on ways that you feel that you’ve failed or fell short on your aspirations.  This holds especially true at milestone events like birthdays and the start of a new year.  I usually try to reflect on the previous year and take a mental note of how about the last year compared to the prior year.

I never write anything down, though.  Because of this, any historical data of past years is only stored in bits and pieces in my admittedly scattered mind. There is no chance that I’ll be able to mine that info for future insights or assess how I’m moving forward on my path.

This post is my attempt to be more deliberate in my yearly assessment while also having the ability to potentially reference years past. Inspired by Michael Cade‘s 2018 retrospective post, I’d also like to include some metrics on some of the measurable things that I value.

Category Count Notes
Blog Posts 7 Most Popular:
A Tale of Two Storage Protocols
Certifications 1 NCIE-SAN (renewal)
Conferences Attended 1 NetApp Insight
Community Events 3 Ravello Blogger Day #2, NetApp ETL, Storage Field Day #16


Had I planned this out, I’d have more metrics to share.  In the future, I’d like to track how often I tweet to hold myself accountable.

So let’s review 2018.  At the beginning of the year, I commuted to the same spot that I had for the previous 6+ years.  My employer treated me very well, and I loved my team.  The work, on the other hand, was predictable and not very challenging.  I didn’t see many opportunities for growth, and it seemed like I was  treading water.”  In past years I had flirted with leaving, but I never found an opportunity that felt right.

Come Spring, I interviewed for a “Consulting Engineer” position at IronBrick. On the interview day, I parked in the wrong lot and got lost.  I ended up being about 20 minutes late to the interview.  The HR person did her best to console me, and one of my perspective co-workers apologized about how their office was so hard to find.  He also mentioned how they were moving soon to a new building that was easier to find.  I got really good vibes from everyone that I met at IronBrick.  I also really liked the story that IronBrick told about where they were headed in the feature.

I was ready for a change.  It felt right, so I leapt.

Has everything been hunky-dory?  No?!  In the past eight months, I’ve spent a lot of time feeling uncomfortable and self-reflecting on what I can do to suck less in the areas in which I feel lacking.  My lacking list is pretty long.  It’s easy to beat myself up.  However, that’s a big waste of time and totally counter-productive.

At a new job, everyone is new.  I know that’s so freaking obvious.  However, as a big-time introvert, having to interact with entire groups of new people has been challenging for me.  I had gotten so used to knowing how to interact with my previous co-workers.   I also felt content in the fact that everyone at my past job knew me and knew what to expect from me.   I kinda forgot how deficient my social skills could be.  It’s also from this that I realized that I really struggle with being comfortable with who I am when I’m around new people. This is something that I plan to continue to work on in the next year.

In addition to taking a risk on a new job and new company in 2018, I’ve had to take some other risks.  In my quest to become more vulnerable and share more about myself,  I gave my first speech at Toastmasters.  It was a 5-7 minute icebreaker speech where I spoke about one of my least favorites topics of conversation: me.  This speech was WAY outside of my comfort zone.

Going into the speech, I had a lot of anxiety about whether I would be able to talk for the allotted time.  I spend a lot of time up in my head and frequently give short answers.  I told myself that if I made it 3 minutes, I could count this as a win  Six freaking minutes my speech lasted.  I also managed to tell my story in a way that didn’t feel cookie cutter and reflected my authentic voice.   I got a massive rush from giving the speech. Total success!    

In the past few years, I discovered the power of the tech community. (So grateful to Sam Moulton for the opportunity to join the NetApp A-Team.)  This year, I had the chance to attend NetApp Insight, Storage Field Day #16 and Ravello Blogger Day #2.  Having the opportunity to participate in these events always feels like winning to me. Being surrounded by accomplished people that also value community motivates me to work to become a better version of me.  Yes, it generates some “imposter syndrome” feelings, but I can deal with those.

Lastly, through what feels like serendipity, I had a chance to attend a “Live your Inspired Life” workshop when I tacked a few vacation days onto a trip for Ravello Blogger Day #2.  What sticks with me most about this workshop was an exercise in which we were instructed to quietly tell yourself a lie about yourself and recognize the feeling that it generates. The flip side is that you can also feel your truths when you hear them.  All of this may sound pretty obvious.  However, it’s easy to drown out your intuitive voice in the hustle and bustle of life.   This workshop preceded both the new job, first speech, and some other wins of the past year.

Previously, I can remember thinking “I’m so over this year” and thanking God that it was a new year.  I don’t feel this way about 2018.   Overall, it was a pretty good year for me.  I’ve moved forward and have gotten “unstuck” in some areas of my life.

I’m looking forward to continuing on my path for 2019.

Now that I’ve shared some of my wins and struggles, how was your year?  Are there any lessons that you’ve learned along the way?  What are your plans for 2019?