A new years resolutions post in June? Huh?

See my previous post for context. I'm catching up on the backlog and well, better late than never.

Looking back on 2018

2018 wasn't the Roger Federer of kicking goals. Or maybe it was, seeng as the Fed plays tennis. Let's review how I went.

Goal 1: Travel to Japan and two new countries

Result: Nope
Why? I didn't have enough leave from work. I went to Japan twice and the states twice, so I did a fair bit of overseas travel, but didn't go anywhere new. I had planned trip 1 before the start of the year, and trip 2 was a spontaneous decision after a friend asked for a translator. Of course, I jumped at a 500$ return flight to Osaka and the chance to introduce someone to a culture and country I love.
How could I have achieved this? If I declined my friends invitation and used my annual leave to go elsewhere, I could have done it. That said, #noregrets, it was a pretty arbitrary goal and in the end, turned out to be less important to me than I thought.

Goal 2 and 3: Read a book per week, Blog at least once per month

Result: Nada
Why? Both of these goals got the neck in service of my other goals. At work, my team kept growing, and management took up more time and energy than I anticipated. I wasn't working 40 or even 50 hours a week, to say the least. This meant that I needed more 'me time' than ever and there were days when my batteries were flat by the time I got home. I spent more time socializing and playing video games, which further reduced the productive time I had for things like blogging, reading and study. I decided I would focus this free productive time on Japanese. Taking a break from Japanese would mean a step backwards as it leaked from my brain, so blogging and reading could wait.
How could I have achieved this? By sacrificing what social life I had, or putting less energy into work or Japanese. I don't think I made the wrong choice, but I do want to find more time to read and write this year, it makes me an unhappy chap when I can't. Not that my writing is anything worth writing home about.

Goal 4: Japanese - Pass the N2

Result: Negative
Why? Unrealistic expectations. I went for the N3 in the middle of the year and it was a lot harder than I expected. Read - I failed :(. I planned my goals for Japanese on the assumption of a linear increase in difficulty and leveling up every 6 months. In reality, N4->N3 is a much larger jump than N5->N4 is. Because of this, I retried N3 at the end of the year (and passed!) but got nowhere near as close to N2 as I had expected.
How could I have achieved this? If I had quit work and purely studied Japanese full time, this would have been doable, but that obviously wasn't an option. This goal was too optimistic from the start, especially along with work commitments, so I don't feel too bad about it.

Goal 5: Save $$$

Result: Non
Why?  Two reasons for this:

  1. The crypto bubble popped and my 'on paper' gains on cryptocurrency collapsed. I didn't lose 'real money' on this, in the sense that as of writing, my crypto holdings are still worth roughly double what I spent to get them, but they're only a quarter of what they were at the height of the bubble. If I had better timing on cashing out, then I would be far ahead of where I am now, but hindsight is 20/20 and I did not have better timing. But hey, it could have been much worse too.
  2. I underestimated (or rather didn't account for) tax. I was a poor naive noob who thought that work would automatically cover my tax requirements, and didn't factor in shares. I had to cash in roughly half my Amazon shares to pay for the tax on them and this put my earnings behind where I was hoping as a starry eyed youngster of 26. Now that I'm 27 I'm much wiser.

These two reasons meant that as of the end of 2018 I was in roughly the same position financially as at the end of 2017. The main difference was that one year ago 70% of my net worth was in crypto and now that has been replaced by more traditional stores of wealth. It could be a lot higher if I had hypothetically timed the market precisely, but it has climbed steadily if I don't count the paper gains that I had during the great crypto bubble of '17. So I don't feel too bad about it.

Take the lesson from me folks, if anything is ever 70% of your net worth, cash out and diversify. Don't get greedy and think it's going to keep climbing.

Goal 6: Get promoted at work

Result: Achieved

This was my 'secret' goal last year and didn't get a mention in the blog post because I wanted to avoid talking about work too much. Now that I've achieved it, I don't mind sharing.

This is a big part of why all my other goals didn't get prioritized. During 2017 I moved into a management position at L5, which is the lowest management level for software engineering at Amazon. L5 is generally reserved for people who have transitioned to management internally - most external hires are at L6. Because of this, I wanted to prove myself during 2018 and earn a promotion to L6. After hauling ass for most of the year, I got there in Q4. I'm pretty proud of this achievement and given everything I learned along the way I don't think it was the wrong choice. But reflecting on the year now and seeing the sacrifices I made to other goals, I do think that 2019 is time to shift gears and focus on things external to work. I've found my feet as a technical manager, the team is running smoothly and I'm a lot more sure of the decisions I'm making and how to lead a team. If the gods are kind, that will mean a less intense schedule and the chance to work on other, more personal goals.

Goals for 2019

My goals here fall into one of three categories

Self Growth

Goal 1: Japanese - Pass the N2 - I want to continue my Japanese learning until I can read and navigate native texts without mental friction. While I can already hold a conversation fine, I still instinctively recoil at the sight of an all-Japanese web page or form. It takes conscious effort to get through. The N2 level is my next milestone.

Goal 2: Read a book per month - I want to continue to expand my horizons by reading more. I could aim for more; ideally I'd be doing one per week, but that's not practical in conjunction with both Japanese and work.

Goal 3: Blog once per month - Picking up the blogging schedule now that I've migrated my site and work has died down a bit. My focus is to make my writing more engaging. I feel like my writing is pretty clear but more straightforward than interesting.

New Experiences

Goal 4: Make a plan to leave work and travel - This is my 4th year at Amazon. I've managed to save a fair bit and learned a lot, but I've always wanted to spend time traveling the world and taking in new experiences and sights. I'm also closing in on 30. So for this year, while I don't have any particular travel goals, I want to have a clear plan in place to achieve my childhood goal of seeing the world. Don't know how yet, could be with an extended holiday, moving overseas for a new job, or taking some time off and doing a working holiday. In particular I want to spend some time in Japan and use the language that I've been learning for the last 3 years.

Stability and Safety Net

Goal 5: Keep saving $$$ - I have my doubts about how stable the global financial markets will be over the next 5 years, and I've always had a goal to retire as soon as possible. So for now, I'll keep saving up money. To support myself during the time I will be travelling (see goal 4) or in the event some catastrophic life event means I'm not working.

Lets review in a year six months!