Look back on 2021

Look back on 2021
Photo by Yann Allegre / Unsplash

2021 has been another one of those weird years really with many things still remaining the same in the fallout from 2020, and in many ways 2020 was a great year for me in many ways 2021 continued to trend well in many aspects but I exit the year in much lower vigour.

The year started out to be a promising one although Covid was still a big deal in January we were all looking forward to the vaccines to allow us to start moving back to normality, in many ways it was this hope that fueled a lot of my hope through 2020. The sad part is where a lot of the world is exiting 2021 with reduced restrictions and some level of getting an understanding about living with the virus Singapore still has a lot of restrictions in place and needless bureaucratic red tape around everything that it is only becoming more obvious to me the sooner we can leave Singapore the better, and although we never planned to stay in Singapore for much longer it feels these couple of years have only enforced that sentiment. This of course doesn't really cover my own growth and learnings it is indeed an important underpinning idea that has only grown in my mind.

How did it go?

This will be a recap and breakdown of what I planned on doing last December and seeing how it went

Read more

One of the big aims I had for 2021 was to get into read much more, as I have been rather on and off about it over the years and for part of 2020 I was fairly consistent with my reading. Of course the forever changing requirements of sometimes being able to go to the office and other days not being able didn't really help that matter but I set out some books I wanted to cover in 2021 and to be fair I made good progress on this list and although I didn't read everything I did read some I never expected to read. The books I set out to read where:

  • The Everything Store ✓
  • Steve Jobs ✓
  • Thinking fast and slow
  • How to win friends and influence people
  • Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

From the list I have only managed to read two of these books however with things changing quite a bit over 2021 with change in work responsibilities and more of a lean into the management style books I did manage to get through these books:

  • Empowered
  • The Manager's Path
  • Zappos - Delivering Happiness
  • The Lean Product Playbook
  • Tribal Leadership
  • Atomic Habbits

And recently started Trillion Dollar Coach which is also proving to be a pretty great and enjoyable read as well. Making it 8 books completed this year with another in the pipeline that would be ideal to finish before the end of the year (I am 30% through so it is possible) . The thing that is interesting for me is I still felt like my reading habits this year where not the best and will aim to finish 10 books next year as that feels pretty manageable and I have a pretty long backlog anyway.

For me I have found that having a mix of audiobooks and reading on my kindle has proven to be the best method, I use audiobooks when I commute and kindle before bed and it seems to work for me.


This year has seen a substantial shift in my work moving from a developer role into more a lead which has forced me to refocus a bit. Although it is still really important to keep my projects going, and I am, there are other areas that I have also been working on that are directly work related. I started the year with my Electron project and that was a lot of fun, I managed to get good progress with that and have a pretty complex application by the end of it, there is still things not complete on it of course but I felt it was a pretty great learning experience that pushed me in many different directions. I feel I would like to do more in Electron moving forward but it has to be the right project and right now I am a bit more focused on smaller projects instead.

One of my goals last year was to look more into algorithms which is something I have managed to still avoid. It is never an area of much enjoyment but I do understand it is important and one area I expect to start working much more seriously on in the new year and it follows my current new strategy.

After reeling from Hooq going bust I did want to get myself much more job ready, I think this is an ongoing struggle of course but I feel this year I have aimed to really push and deepen my JavaScript knowledge and understanding I went through JavaScript: The Definitive Guide from O'Reilly which has been awesome in strengthening some of my knowledge and solidifying other areas. I feel this has greatly help to building my knowledge and understanding around JavaScript even more and has been hugely helpful. I have also started to spend more times going back over design patterns as well in a bid to improve my overall knowledge base.

I did also spend quite a bit of time this year with NestJS and have really been brought around to it and have started to favour it in my projects a lot more as it starts to make JavaScript feel a bit more structured and this works super well when you tie it all back to TypeScript. I did also play more wit Gatsby which is still a lot of fun and have a much better understanding for it now than before and feel it can make a lot of sense for things like my site.


This is one of those contentious issues I feel there is still value in doing more in this category but often find these are bit pricy and/or feel rather academic I am not sure if I want to pursue these moving forward and the more I think about them I still question the value. I think I will take them off my list for the new year and if it makes sense may try and complete a few.

I did complete the NestJS certificate which was great it gave me a lot of hands on experience with the framework and really helped me to better understand developing with it. It was only a small thing but indeed useful. I have continued with other React work over the year although I think will need to look into something more complex for React in the new year to really leverage Redux and some more complex aspects.

None Career goals

As with everything you need some more personal goals and this year has been fairly good at allowing me some time to develop these areas as well. I have managed to up my running schedule a bit more with some longer runs of 12-13km which although still way below what I was doing a few years ago I feel with more commitments elsewhere these can be harder runs to fit in, and as a result just getting back to them is a big deal for me. I have also managed to settle back into mostly 3 days a week running and looking to start improving my cycling game in the new year as another alternative.

In terms of brewing I did managed to get 4 batches out this year which has been more than last year but a bit behind where I wanted to be, I do still aim to get one done for Christmas as well so that should push it to 5. I have upgraded some equipment and really would like to invest more in this area the thing holding me back is having to move next year and as a result will probably hold off. I would hope in a couple of years to have a bit more permanent place and then I can really expand my brewing efforts.

I have been able to improve my finance stability with more saving and more consistently. It has both been above my estimates and below my hopes with me going a bit too hard on it in some months, turns out I am one of the people who can save fairly easily just breaking that frugality can be a bit tricky at times and I still need to aim for a bit more balance around this.

Of course Max (my son) has been a big part of the year and he has continued to grow and develop from a 1 year old to almost 2 and the change is quite noticeable, just not always in his sleeping habits which still remain pretty bad.

Areas that I improved on outside of my estimates

As I've touched on above there are various things that I managed to achieve outside of my expectations such as: reading more, going through JavaScript book, NestJS certification, k8 learnings, more time devoted to learning, promotion, VueJS work at work to name the most prominent ones.

One big thing I have pushed for over this year is changing my habits and achieving a much more consistent sleeping time and early waking up time over the entire week. It has been quite a bit shift moving from more night focused to more morning and still something I am working on to improve by brining my wake up times closer and closer together regardless of the day it now is only varying between 7:30 - 8:30 with some days waking up earlier but none later.

This has changed my mornings on the weekend into time I have to be productive whether that be my own coding project; writing articles; or reading more technical books it is a few hours twice a week that I am able to achieve some of my own personal goals in pushing my own abilities forward. I do also thing reading Atomic Habits has helped me get a better understanding around forming good habits and aim to use some of those techniques to improve my own, but right now I am fairly happy with the time I have to grow and develop.

As I've mentioned a few times work has been rather interesting this year one of the big changes has been being promoted to the lead. It has given my new challenges that are away from just technical and I have enjoyed that a lot as the more I work on other areas more manager related the more I do enjoy it and really helping others become better is truly awesome and helping to create a team that everyone enjoys is really nice as well. I always view people are very important and I view having a well functioning team that is close and both highly productive along with getting along well being super important and providing that environment that everyone enjoys and likes coming to work and interacting with everyone is very rewarding. Even for me when I have been having a bad day the team standup is always a lot of fun and a nice way to let off some steam and get some new perspectives.

This year I have also worked more with VueJS which is fun, it is different but I like the new challenge, there is a lot of overlap with React and a lot of the same ideas, I just feel Vue is a bit less well defined as it is more community driven and that is a bit of challenge. I spend a good amount of time this year building our Vue component library and starting to setup the big migration which is setting the scene for next year.

Did I Achieve What I Hoped For?

When you plan a year in advance you can never expect things to turn out how you imagine them, things will always change and the actual outcomes can be very different. It is for this reason for me when I set out these plans I try to make them specific and achievable however they are never set in stone and I don't worry to much about deviating from the overall words providing I feel I am moving in the right direction and managing to achieve at least the spirit of what I setout. Now of course this can be more or less as well and sometimes that can be a little hard to manage but the first question to ask is do I feel at the end of this year I have progressed from the start? And the answer is a firm yes no question.

The second question is did I achieve more or less than what I had initially hoped for? This gets to be a little more difficult to quantify as not everything is equally weighted as well but for the key items I do feel I made solid progress, probably a bit more than I had initially anticipated, as looking back over all of this hear makes me feel there really has been a lot! and in many way it may have been one of my most productive years in terms of overall growth.

It's been a bit of a wild year really lots of ups and downs but I feel the progress has been great and I look forward to the next year with new and exciting challenges. I have a lot of interesting ideas for 2022 and expect it will be a bit of a transformative year.