A Retrospective of 2019

When i’m busy in the day to day, it’s really hard to find dedicated time to think strategically. Whether you are a fan of resolutions or not, they are a great opportunity to critically evaluate where you are heading in the long term and if you are working on the most meaningful things.

At the beginning of 2019, I made two resolutions to myself:

  1. Put myself out there by doing public speaking (and by extension, going to more meetups/conferences)
  2. Get more involved in open source projects

Public Speaking

I have always loved giving talks internally. I’d given a ton of internal talks at Citymapper over the years and i’ve done a bunch of internal talks at Monzo since I joined in 2018.

The whole concept of public speaking scares me to death. Getting in front of all those people and being recorded for the world to see in perpetuity is terrifying. In retrospect I now believe public speaking is easier than internal speaking. Every perspective is welcome in public and there will always be people who learn something from your talks.

This year saw me speaking at worldwide conferences like SRECon, QCon and AWS Re:Invent as well as speaking at various meetups in London. I’ve really enjoyed every single speaking engagement and interacting with the audience for questions.

My top tip is to practice with a stranger who’s familar with the domain. I’ve found fellow speakers at the conference or meetup are the best candidates and are more than happy to cross present talks to get feedback and practice timings. Take advantage of this! It’s also a forcing function to not leave the slides and content to the very last minute.

Public speaking is something I definitely want to continue going into 2020!

Open Source

I owe so much to open source technologies. It’s one of the main reasons I get to enjoy what I do in my career. I want to help make the ecosystem better and get involved where I can!

In truth, i’ve made this resolution for a number of years now. Every time, there’s been some instance of suffering from analysis paralysis. There’s always been a desire to contribute to something meaningful and useful. I’ve wanted to work on the new and shiny and show the world what i’m are capable of.

Looking back, the most fun i’ve had in open soruce is the unpopular stuff. Investigating and fixing an obscure bug in a niche project or doing some plumbing to faciliate a new feature has has helped me grow into a better engineer.

For next year, I want to open source more random projects I work on. Projects don’t need to be perfect, if it can help someone else, that’s good enough for me. I also want to contribute more boring work and become better at my craft.

Taking Time Off

At Monzo, you get a generous number of vacation days allocated at the beginning of the year and you have to use every last day of vacation or you lose it. I can categorically say this is better than any unlimited holiday policy.

I’ve been much more conscious of taking time off and decompressing. I’ve always equated taking time off to travelling or doing something meaningful but it’s totally okay to take a self-day and do something away from a screen. It’s an opportunity to reset and think about things outside of work.

My biggest learning is to take time off when you’ve dealt with a large incident. Incidents are highly charged environments which require significant amount of constant focus and attention. It’s really easy to get sucked in and neglect your own personal health and wellbeing for fear of letting the side down. This is not sustainable. Your manager should be dinging you for not taking appropriate time off if you’ve been actively involved in an incident.

2019 has been a fantastic year with many personal and professional learnings and highlights. Here’s to an amazing 2020 for everyone 🙌

A big goal for me in 2020 is to write more on this blog. Expect to see more content!

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