2022 Annual Retrospective

An avatar of David Neuman
David Neuman // January 31, 2023
8 minute read
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I look forward to writing my annual review each year. It’s an opportunity for me to reflect on how I spent my time and energy. Did I focus my attention where I intended? Where did I succeed and where did I fall short?

2022 was a transformative year for me. We welcomed our son, Kaeden, into the world. As a result, my life has changed drastically. It was an adjustment to be sure, with sleepless nights and crying that overloads your nervous system. Yet the experience has profoundly changed me for the better.


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

  • I will focus on being a good father.

  • I will increase my overall income.

And here are the questions that I answer each year:

  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?

✅ Goal #1: Focus on being a good father

Last year I became a father. I made it clear in my prior retrospective that I wanted to focus my energy into being a present and engaged dad. I believe that I did! I love fatherhood. It’s been incredible to watch our son grow and change over seven short months. While I can’t wait for what the next year holds, I’m going to enjoy each step of the process.

✅ Goal #2: Increase my overall income

I landed a new job in April with a higher salary. More importantly, it’s a place where I can see myself growing my career. I’m surrounded by fun, motivated and competent colleagues and I look forward to work in the morning. I’m also in talks to start mentoring again part-time. With the current economic conditions and my fiancée on maternity leave, the extra income will go a long way.

What didn’t go so well?

I didn’t spend much time writing

I sent out a few newsletter issues last year, which I’m proud of. But my writing was inconsistent at best. I also didn’t publish any new articles on my blog, aside from a short piece on fatherhood.

Writing is thinking and therapeutic. It’s one of the ways that I can get my creative juices flowing. I have two places where I want to focus my writing in 2023, which I’ll discuss below.

What did I learn?

I am learning how to be parent

I learned a lot simply by becoming a dad. How to change a diaper. How to sleep train a baby. When you should introduce solids. The best ways to stimulate your baby at different ages/milestones. And the list goes on!

Learning how to be a parent is a continuous endeavor. You don’t just know everything that you need to know at a certain point. Kids are unpredictable. When you think you’ve figured your kid out, they grow and change their personality. And my son is only six months old.

Becoming a dad is one of the best things that has happened to me. Learning how to be a better one each day brings added purpose to my life.

I learned that I can let my anger get the best of me

An angry man with a volcano exploding our his head.

I knew nights would be difficult with a newborn. I never knew that the cry would make me angry.

It’s so easy to tell myself that a baby is crying because they want something. It’s another thing in the heat of the moment, when you’re so sleep deprived and so desperate for the crying to stop, to behave as a rational human being.

I’m not proud of how I reacted some nights. But I’ve learned that I’m not alone. Many dads feel the same way because it’s mom that is able to console the baby.

It’s important to communicate with your partner about how you feel. You will be grumpy and exhausted, but you can mitigate the consequences by reminding yourself that this stage of life is fleeting.

Enjoy the sleepness nights. One day, you’ll think back fondly on them.

What will I change next year?

I will prioritize my relationships over personal endeavors

Having a newborn impacts your social connections. Particularly your most important one. The one with your spouse.

Going from a family of two to three has been a wonderful experience, but it’s not without its difficulties. My partner and I went through a period of mourning our relationship. It will never only the two of us ever again. And that’s sad, in a way.

I want to be an engaged and present father. But I also want to be a loving, caring and compassionate partner. After all, our family started with the two of us. I’ll make more time to organize date nights and special evenings after our son is asleep.

As for my friends, we’re organizing a soccer team that will start in a few months and hopefully I’ll join my brother-in-law’s ball hockey team at some point. I’m also planning on organizing some board game nights with different groups of friends.

I’m prone to getting lost in my own head. As someone who is both ambitious and creative, I often need to channel my energy into personal projects. Sometimes at the expense of quality time with loved ones. This year, I’ll work towards better balancing my personal goals and time with those who matter most to me.

I will to improve my discipline and self-control

I’m generally active and eat well, but there are many times where I’ll overindulge in sweets and desserts and feel bad afterwards. It happens mostly automatically in that I don’t take a step back to ask myself if I really want to eat the treats or not. It’s almost a given.

In order to reset my relationship with sugar and my overall nutrition, I’ve embarked on a no sweets/desserts challenge for the month of January with my fiancée. We’re still having sugar from fruits and some other natural sources, though. The challenge has gone quite well so far! We both feel great eating clean and putting off the late evening sugar cravings.

Growth comes from doing difficult things. This year, I want to do more of them. The goal is to become more disciplined in doing what’s right for my mind and body. I also want to play a more active role in exercising some self-control in how I decide to spend my time and energy.

I will be consistent with writing my newsletter

A cartoon muscular brain.

At the end of last year, I rebranded my newsletter after Revue - Twitter’s now defunct newsletter service - shut down. I’ve mentioned before that writing a newsletter both improves what information I consume and acts as shipping creative work. It’s a way for me to distill what I’ve read into useful advice and knowledge for my readers.

It’s also super fun!

I put my prior newsletter off to the side for a while last year. This year, I hope to eventually get to a bi-weekly cadence. Ideally, I would love to publish an issue every week. But my next goal would interfere with that.

I will write the first few chapters of my first book

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to write a book. I used to think that you needed to be a full-time author to do so. I’ve since changed my mind. It might take me 10 years to do it, but I’m committing to writing a fantasy fiction trilogy.

I’ve been outlining several ideas for a couple of months now, but it’s only in the last week or so that I’ve solidified the concept that I want to pursue. I love to come up with different interesting magic systems and how they shape the fantasy world’s economic and political landscape. At first, I spent far too much time on the worldbuilding aspect of fantasy fiction writing. Lately I’ve been spending more and more time developing main character arcs and general plot points.

Brandon Sanderson’s 2020 Creative Writing lectures at BYU gave me the confidence and knowledge that I needed to get started. By the end of the year, I’d like to have the first draft of several chapters completed. That means that I’ll need to finalize my idea and outline this year, which is both horrifying and thrilling at the same time.

Stay tuned!

I will take more active steps to level up my career

I’ve been a software developer since 2019. I’m proud of all of the knowledge that I’ve accumulated in such a short period of time. I committed myself to fully transitioning careers and it’s paid off. Now, it’s time to take it up a notch.

My short to medium-term goal is to get promoted to senior developer. That means learning more about software engineering best practices, patterns, systems design, teaching and setting by example, and covering my bases when it comes to Computer Science concepts. I may not feel prepared to get a promotion this year, but I will certainly put myself in the best position possible to achieve that.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll lay out a study plan that will keep me focused on what I want to learn.

What are your goals for 2023?