2020 Year in Review

December 22, 2020 3 minute read

We all started 2020 with the idea that it’s our year. In turned out it’s not.

Everything was business as usual until March. Then Europe gets hit by the virus, lockdowns are imposed, no one knows what’s happening.

What seemed like a temporary situation quickly became the new normal and we all had to adapt. Despite everything, I’m happy with how the last twelve months went.

Reading & Philosophy

It was hard to make sense of everything that’s going on. I didn’t have any principles to follow, no one to ask for advice. So I turned to books and philosophy as a source of much needed wisdom and escapism.

Whenever I’m stressed out I turn to books. I read 40 this year - that says it all.

It was important for me to stay in a good mental and emotional condition, so I turned to stoicism. It’s a philosophy that teaches control over your emotions. That we don’t pick what happens to us, only how we react to it. That we should control what we can and spend less time worrying about the things we can’t.

I read a few more of Ayn Rand’s books as well. They are all about men staying true to their beliefs and fighting against the world. In challenging times it’s easy to become cynical. Her stories reminded me that we should all be aiming for a higher standard no matter the environment around us.

I finally gathered the courage to take up a heavy Russian book in Crime and Punishment. I think I’m still recovering from that one a few months later but strongly recommend it.

I started reading poetry. Well, maybe reading is too strong of a word but I’m appreciating it whenever I come across a poem.

Training

Physical training has always been an important part of my life. This year taught me that I don’t need to be in the gym to be fit and feel good.

Everything that you need is kettlebells, resistance bands and a pull-up bar. The last one is a bit more tricky if you can’t drill one to the wall, though.

Kettlebells are the best piece of home equipment. You can train literally each part of your body with them. The bands are good as well - light, easy to pack. With those two pieces of equipment and some creativity you can keep yourself busy and in shape.

Professional Development

I became a tech lead and a line manager. It was the greatest challenge of my career, not going to lie. So far my work has been about solving problems through code. Suddenly, I found myself thinking about planning, prioritization and architecture.

Thankfully, I had the technical expertise to rely on, so I could focus on the people part of things - motivating, leading and forming a team.

My main takeaway on that front can be a bit controversial. You don’t do good work by focusing on it. You create a good team which then does good work.

I started the year with the idea to pick up Go. I’m quite comfortable with the language now. I can’t say that I can create in it freely, but I can contribute if I need to.

Despite that I invested more time in distributed systems knowledge and DynamoDB. Dynamo really amazed me. I underestimated it as a simple key value store but it’s so much more than that. It’s a really powerful technology and I spent a lot of time making sure I understand it well.

Writing

As my bio says, I do want to write for a living one day and I’ve made a big push in that direction this year. I think expressing your thoughts and ideas through writing is an amazing feat and I’ve always been fascinated by people who do it well.

I set out to become better at this craft. I wrote a lot of code but a lot of words as well. My thoughts flow more freely than they used to and I see this when my pen moves through the pages of my journal.

I Loved More

This will be more on my poetic side but through all that darkness in the last year I found my reasons to smile. I still managed to spend time with the people I love, still drank good coffee and played games with my friends over Discord.

Hopefully, 2021 is finally our year.

Hey, I'm Alex Kondov.

I write about software, philosophy and the things in between.

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