2020: What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been! 2020 was a year unlike any other for almost everyone across the globe. I want to take a few minutes looking back across the year and reviewing some of the changes and positives that came out of what was truly an exceedingly difficult year.

Goal Setting

At the beginning of 2020 I set out several goals for the first quarter. I had planned to follow up each quarter with updates and setting additional goals where needed. That really didn’t go to plan.

What I have learned from this is two-fold. My goal setting needs to be more frequent and more achievable within the timeframes. Secondly, I need to adjust my expectations based on the situation at the time.

Going in to 2020 we were expecting our first child, he was born in the middle of February. I foolishly thought I would be able to continue at the same levels of commitment and efficiency throughout the year even with a new-born. I learned a particularly important lesson, raising children is not easy.

Becoming a Father

By far the most amazing part of 2020 was having our first child, my whole world has changed. I never thought much about having children throughout my life, but now that it has happened, I feel blessed to have this opportunity.

My views on a lot of things have changed, my attitude towards money, risks, health, and many other things have adjusted. I want to provide the best environment and example for my son. That is quite new for me and I’m still navigating the waters.

Working from Home

I am no strange to working from home, I’ve done stints on and off over the last 10-15 years. However, this time it was different, this wasn’t by choice, this time round it was mostly mandated.

Adjusting to the new normal was difficult, working from home isn’t really that difficult for me with the work I do, however this wasn’t just about me. The situation was impacting everyone, many people not used to remote working and all that entails.

I feel like Zoom burnout was a huge thing in 2020, I found myself in a lot more meetings than I would have done had I been out on site with customers. I’ve worked hard to settle this situation and I am careful to manage my time as effectively as possible.

I re-organised my home office and invested in a mountain of equipment to help with working remotely and attending virtual conferences and events. I had planned to also create more content, but considering both points before this one, I am not surprised to say, I didn’t get round to that.

Buying a Home

Early on in 2020 I wrote a little about the struggles with the search for a house during the pandemic. I have a follow-up blog that I need to finish about how that process turned out. We did manage to make a purchase and we finally completed at the end of November 2020.

The buying process was much longer than would usually be expected due to the global situation. There were also various delays in the build process from lockdowns and distancing restrictions. Ideally, we would have completed a few months earlier, but we had an opportunity to get in before Christmas.

Taking on the responsibility of buying a new house and all that entails really didn’t factor into my planning. Much like with becoming a father, I didn’t readjust my workload or expectations. 2020 is the year that taught me you can’t continually take on new tasks and still expect the same output across the board.

The last month of 2020 was incredibly stressful, I owe a lot of thanks to family for helping with the move and also getting our apartment ready to hand back. We got settled in the weekend before Christmas and have been unpacking and organising ever since.

Content & Events

The small win I’m going to take here is, I wrote more than 2019. It isn’t anywhere near as much as I wanted, and I have a huge backlog of draft posts to finish. The theme from this post fits here as well, I need to adjust my expectations, I set myself too high a goal to realistically achieve. In 2021 I aim to continue the improvement from 2020 and post more content, but with an achievable target.

I was also incredibly lucky to attend several great virtual events throughout 2020. Various Field Day events allowed me to keep up with the goings on in tech and get a break from the day to day. Stephen and team over at Gestalt IT adjusted to the new virtual format well and I have had a great time participating.

Getting to interact with some familiar and new faces, even over Zoom, was refreshing and provided much needed lifts in morale. It was also useful to share experiences and struggles with a like-minded group of people that genuinely care.

Community

My final stand-out win of 2020 was community! Whatever your favoured brand of community interaction I hope that you found the same level of support, love, and hope that I did throughout the year.

The IT community is generally rather good, 2020 saw a shift into a higher gear. Economies suffered, jobs were lost, times have been hard. In multiple occasions I saw the community come together to help promote candidates and roles. They amplified and expanded reach so that the messages got seen far and wide. It was refreshing.

I also had the opportunity to help build a new community over on Discord. Working to create the Orbital Jigsaw community has been a lot of fun and extremely rewarding. We have a lot of plans for this place going forward.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, 2020 was tough for everyone. I was personally lucky as I wasn’t as heavily impacted as many others were. Sometimes we take the privilege of working in IT for granted, this year I certainly didn’t.

There were a lot of ups and downs to deal with. I have learned a lot of particularly important lessons and I hope to use these to shape my 2021. If anything I’ve experienced throughout the year resonates with your own situation, reach out and discuss if you’d like. Keeping on top of your mental health is very much a priority.

Thanks for reading and I wish you all a Happy New Year. Hopefully 2021 will start to see some improvements and a return to some form of normality.

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Jason

Professional consultant for over 10 years with 20 years in the IT industry, based in Cambridge, UK. I work with customers to design and implement IT solutions that meet a variety of needs, including backup, virtualization, cloud, and containerisation. An expert in building and managing public cloud services and private/hybrid cloud infrastructure. Experienced in Agile processes, Software Development Lifecycle and CI/CD pipelines. Comfortable working in all areas of business from sales cycle through to support. Able to communicate at all levels throughout the business and tailor messaging accordingly. Additional interests in Digital Ethics, Influencing, Marketing, Strategy and Business Processes. Outside of the technology industry, I enjoy all forms of gaming, ranging from classic table-top to online RPGs. I am also a keen cyclist.