2021 Annual Retrospective

An avatar of David Neuman
David Neuman // January 29, 2022
7 minute read
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2021 was a difficult year for many once again. Covid’s resiliency showed in the variants that emerged this year, from Delta to Omicron. But in similar fashion as the last year, there were many bright spots in my personal life that made 2021 one to remember.


Here are the things that I decided to change for the past year as per last’s year’s retrospective:

  • I will go to therapy for past trauma.
  • I will improve my information content diet.
  • I’ll make a practice of shipping creative work.

As was the case last year, here are the four questions that I’ll answer:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What did I learn?
  4. What will I change next year?

What went well this year?

I’m going to be a father!

An ultrasound of my baby The day that I found out that my fiancée and I were expecting was one of the best days of my life, let alone this year. We had decided in the summer to postpone wedding plans and start a family together. For us, having a child was the next logical step in our relationship. We both love each other dearly. While it will be amazing to celebrate our relationship with an eventual celebration, a child will bring us both so much joy and love.

I went to therapy

I believe that everyone has their own demons. I had thought that I had come to terms with mine. Yet they surfaced in subconscious ways. Finally, I decided to speak to someone about my past trauma.

It didn’t work at first. Something wasn’t clicking with the first therapist’s approach. She was great, but not for me. The first session with the second and current therapist was revolutionary for me. She was able to quickly identify personality traits that were a result of some of my behavioural thought patterns. I’ve only had four sessions with her, but they’ve be nothing short of excellent.

Therapy is still a taboo subject for many. I believe that everyone should go to therapy, even for people that don’t think that they need it. Perhaps especially for those people.

I started a newsletter

Dave's Dives Newsletter Archive

In last year’s annual retrospective, I stated that I would start a newsletter in the upcoming year. And I did! It’s one of the recent endeavors that I’m most proud of. Starting a newsletter ticks off two of the goals that I had set out for myself this year:

  1. Improve my information content diet. Each edition of the newsletter has links to content that I’m enjoying, as well as a deep dive on a specific topic. This process gets me reading, listening and watching interesting content that I’d think others would enjoy consuming as well. The very nature of the newsletter has helped improve my information content diet.
  2. Make a practice of shipping creative work. Shipping words on a screen definitely fits the bill of creative work. Crafting the newsletter takes time, and the vast majority of my current subscribers are friends and family. But I love writing each edition. I’d keep doing it with no subscribers. It would be great to grow the newsletter over time, but I do it principally for myself.

I made significant progress on my new website

My new website I haven’t shipped the new version of my website just yet. There are a couple of remaining tasks that I need to check off. But I’m almost there! I’m still proud of the work that I put into building the entire frontend from scratch instead of using a theme. I am a developer after all, right?

The final obstacle is figuring out how to change the domain name of my Ghost website to something other than david-neuman.com. I’m planning to use this domain for my new site and fetch the content from the Ghost CMS. I should be able to get this done in the first half of this year. If I don’t get it done before the baby comes, there’s a strong chance that it won’t get done for a while!

What didn’t go so well?

I was sometimes unreliable and forgetful

I turned 30 last year, and this year I’m going to be a father. But sometimes I feel like I have some adulting to do. Over the past year, I’ve caught myself forgetting to do things that I was supposed to get done or failing to be reliable. Often times this results from my absent-mindedness; going through my day without consciously thinking.

There’s no doubt a part of me that’s resistant to change. The part of me that decides to play video games instead of helping out around the house (more on that below). The part of me that wishes he had no responsibilities. The part of me that would like to have more free time than he already has.

But the other part of me, the part that is excited about being a father and for what the future holds, needs to take over. I have to be helpful to my fiancée during her pregnancy — which I think I have been, to my credit! — and adequately prepare for a completely new, crazy but fulfilling stage of my life.

This year, I pledge to embrace this next stage of my life and grow into the responsible and reliable person that I want to be.

I struggled to put effort into my friendships

Photo by Duy Pham / Unsplash

COVID once again put a damper on social activity for the majority of 2021. Especially towards the end of the year, when people were looking forward to spending the holidays with family and friends. For me, I can’t solely blame the pandemic from preventing me from fostering my friendships.

It’s important to put yourself before others. I get that. On planes they tell you to “put your oxygen mask on before assisting the person next to you” for a reason. This is a way of thinking that I agree with. At the same time, humans are social creatures and crave social interactions.

Part of me going to therapy this year was due to a feeling of sudden loneliness. What I discovered is that for most of my life, I’ve been a social chameleon. Therapy has helped me showcase more of my identity and less of the person that I hope others will like.

This year, I do plan on putting more effort into my friendships. But more importantly, I plan on showing them more and more the real me.

I continued to grapple with my relationship with gaming

An animated PlayStation controller Gaming represents comfort for me. It’s a hobby that I’d like to think I’m good at. As such, it often requires what feels like little mental effort for a large hit of dopamine. Playing games with friends is a great way to stay in touch, especially when social isolation is the new norm. But the appeal and allure of gaming often gets in the way of my other goals. And that’s my problem.

You could argue that I’ve been quite productive this year. I wrote fairly consistently on my blog, started a newsletter, mostly rebuilt my website and accomplished many of my goals. But gaming has often contributed to my absent-mindedness, where my brain checks out for an extended period of time. It’s times like those that I need to be wary about and monitor.

This year, I’ll be more conscious about how I spend my time playing games. I’ll put other priorities first and reward myself instead of tunnel visioning into playing games first. That’s often the source of my issues.

What will I change next year?

I will focus on being a good father

A clear goal for me in 2022 is to put everything I have into being the best father that I can be. Parenthood involves navigating uncharted territory. We’ll have help, but it’s for us to steer the ship in the right direction.

For the first half of the year, I’ll support my fiancée through her pregnancy. In the next, relish being a first-time parent. Remote work has made it easier for fathers to connect with their children. That’s something I’m so incredibly excited for.

I will increase my overall income

Speaking of parenthood, it’s become a top priority for me to increase my sources of income. My fiancée will be making a lot less when she’s on maternity leave. Plus, I know that I can command a greater salary with my experience.

I’ve started mentoring again two to three times per week, which helps a lot. But a big focus for me is to negotiate my current salary or pursue other work opportunities. I’ve always struggled with confrontation and uncomfortable situations. But it’s important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

What are your goals for 2022?