Looking ahead to 2021
It's that time of year when everyone takes stock of the year just past and looks ahead at what they want to achieve over the coming 12 months.
The standout positive event for me in 2020 was finally becoming an Australian citizen. After missing my original citizenship ceremony in 2019 due to being hospitalised with pericarditis I joined hundreds of other recipients, plus friends and families, in a packed-out theatre on Australia Day (26 January).
It has been a long road getting here since I moved from Scotland in 2013, with a lot of paperwork, bureaucracy and waiting (plus the financial outlay), but I am proud to finally be able to say that I am an Australian 🇦🇺.
Fast-forward a couple of months and the world changed. I was fortunate that my job as a Senior Developer at Databee was already 100% remote, with no changes needed to my working arrangements. Apart from reduced interstate travel to meet clients, as a company we were largely unaffected by the pandemic - indeed, we have been working harder than ever on our product suite to support the changing needs of our clients (over half of Australia's universities, plus a handful overseas).
Apart from a term of home-schooling for my eldest daughter, not a lot changed in our household. That said with the distraction of COVID-19, and the larger events happening in the world, it was easy to put any plans on hold in an effort to just get by. Health and fitness were the first to go (exacerbated by lockdowns).
As I write this the Greater Brisbane region where I live has been plunged into a three-day lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of a new strain of COVID-19 that has come in from the UK.
Rather than default to the 'just get by' mindset I have instead been considering what I want to get out of 2021. Here are a few of the things I've come up with:
I have been a fairly enthusiastic cyclist for almost a decade, but I don't get out on two wheels nearly as much as I would like to (despite owning three bikes).
Up until a couple years ago I was a road cyclist through and through (having given up on mountain biking shortly after the birth of my first child - something to do with it being too dangerous). Over the last couple of years I have come full circle and hardly ever get on the road bike (except for the occasional session on the turbo trainer), instead opting for singletrack forest trails.
I have never been an especially fast cyclist, instead opting for distance over speed. I've always been interested in feats of endurance (mostly as a bystander), and in 2012 I completed a 1,600km (road) ride across the length of mainland United Kingdom. I haven't done anything remotely as impressive since, but the urge is always there at the back of my mind. In previous years I have set myself up in January to complete some sort ultra-distance challenge, but inevitably something would happen to derail my lofty plans (illness, lack of time etc).
For the past few months on my social media presence, as humble as it is, I have been self-identifying as an 'aspiring marathon mountain biker'. That is, longer distance - often multi-day - off-road events. Rather than set any distance or performance targets for 2021 my aim will simply be to participate in these events (with no goal other than to make it to the finish line).
So long as COVID-19 doesn't throw any curveballs this year, there is already a growing calendar of events in my region that I've got my eyes on (that will be the subject of another post). I also have a number of smaller attainable personal goals that I am aiming for - mostly in terms of completing specific rides (i.e. all of the trails at a particular location, or a certain number of laps at another). Generally speaking these won't be overly impressive to anyone following along, but they will represent small wins for me.
I've got some ways to go in terms of both fitness and skill on the bike to get me to the start line of any of these events, so the first few months of 2021 will see me work on those (in a healthy and manageable way).
When it comes to endurance, the mental aspect is arguably as important (if not more) as physical fitness.
At the end of last year I picked up a Mental Fitness Diary from Resilience Agenda to help me to build and maintain my mental well-being in 2021. It's packed with tools and strategies for self-care, recovery and understanding our emotional world.
As a sufferer of anxiety I'm really looking forward to seeing how following the mental fitness strategies and rituals shapes up as the year progresses.
As I mentioned I've been pretty lucky with my work during the pandemic, and whilst it hasn't always been fun and games I am fortunate to be where I am.
Like most software developers I'm always coming up with ideas for new apps and services. I'll often go as far as creating a full MVP with all of the core functionality, but then lose steam and never end up releasing it to the world. My problem seems to be with what I like to refer to as the last mile - the last 10% of the work that seems to take 90% of the time. The more mundane aspects such as account management, registration, payment and terms of service.
Whilst working on updating my blog I've been reading through some of my archived posts and I'd forgotten how solid some of my ideas were. So whilst my day job will very much remain my day job, I plan to resurrect some of these old projects, modernise the codebase (where possible) and focus on implementing the last mile. To keep things as focused as possible I will be concentrating on simplifying this projects and distilling the core functionality. I'm hoping that the tricks I learn from my physical and mental endurance training will give me the ability to push through to completing this coding projects!
Exciting times ahead!