The purpose of this annual review is for me to reflect on the year by asking these four questions:
This Annual Review is for me. But I would like to share it with you. I want to grow into a more open and transparent person, so in this review, I will share the highs, the lows and all the growth and pain that comes with it.
Writing: Writing used to be my most inconsistent habit. It was like the words were holding onto a railing in my mind. My mindset began to change when I started to care less about what other people would think about it or even what I would think, at least for early drafts, and just write. I stopped waiting to write when I was in the mood, as I would rationalize myself out of it. I needed to just sit my ass down and write, whether I felt like it or not. At times it felt like work, but soon my body and mind adapted and I found writers flow and streams of words would come out. I used the site 750 words to cultivate my writing habit. The site keeps track of how consistent you can write 750 words a day. There were a number of fun badges to attain while writing. [ crossed 100 books, currently at 139 books.
I developed a system to manage my book data, to help me gather the right info for reviews, keep track of what's on the site, which book's I've made notes for, and what I won't publish on the main books page (usually highly technical books, check out the code page for that.) [ On my final days at the company, I wrote and sent out 4,000 + word note of gratitude to over 50 people I had interactions with at the company. I choose to send one large email so everyone could read the positive traits I highlighted of their fellow co-workers. One co-worker who I had pointed out for excellent communication skills, had been a recent immigrant from India and said I made his day, as he has been working so hard on his English skills and hoped someone would notice. Another co-worker, had no idea the influence she had on me for me to mention her in the email for kindness and generosity and said it was the best email she received in her 10 years at the company. Telling people what makes them special can go a long way. Directions:Friends who've been out with me, know, I'm horrible with directions, and usually just tag along like a sheep. I often arrive late to things, as I get lost on the way. I even get lost, using gps, ya I know... Well, 2016, was the year, navigating the city finally clicked in my head. It turns out I wasn't paying attention. First Time Skiing: I went skiing for the first time this year. Shout out to #teambunnyhill and Aaron for organizing. I went in expecting to fall, and that made me more open to learning. On the slopes, there were so many reminders of the art of learning, and the small steps needed to make big leaps. At the core of it, was learning and apply the fundamentals, relaxing and paying attention.
turned out to be the highlight event of the entire year. At Burning Man, a temporary community of around 70,000 people, in groups of camps come together at the Black Rock City Desert in Nevada, in an environment of love, radical self-expression, art, music, discovery and the opportunity to create all kinds of experiences.
Burning Man has Ten Principles that are a reflection of the community's ethos and culture and three that stand out the most to me are: Radical Self-expression, Participation, and Gifting. People are free to be who they are. Although sometimes dressed in costumes and masks, they still feel real, and you experience the essence of a person when you're out there. It's a judgment-free environment, and the wide range of art and expression are inspiring and spiritually enriching. Burners are invited to openly participate and contribute to the community. A lot of amazing things can happen when people from all over the world come together, and feel safe to participate and express themselves. Gifting was a principle that felt very core to human nature, and with thousands of people participating without monetary exchange, it was a breath of fresh air and added significantly to the Burning Man experience. There is a phrase, The Playa Provides, that embodies the serendipitous nature of good intentions and collective support of thousands of good samaritans. I stayed at Burning Man for 9 days, in a small camp of 16 awesome people called No Boundaries\_._ We had a lot of resourceful people in our camp to make the living situation and logistics in the desert bearable. I met so many amazing people, and am still to this day having flashbacks of many of the amazing experiences out there. I ran into 5 people I knew randomly, which is pretty insane when it's a vast desert of 70,000 people. I watched the sunrise, explored the many themed camps and danced for hours. I also biked for dozens of miles and remembered how much I enjoyed biking. Each day brought new experiences, art, and stories. I went to Burning Man, to reset and open my mind, coming off of a very difficult period in my life. I was also curious to see how I would react out here, as I've never been to something at this scale, and I kinda just dived in head first. I reacted with awe, love, generosity, gratitude, and a reinvigorated spirit. I've already marked my calendar to go again in 2017. I published a post on my Burning Man experience through photos. [
Depression:The power of depression can wipe away your world. I thought I was safe, riding on the waves of life and success. I had forgotten this was part of the spectrum of emotions and I thought I could grind my way out of it, and then I couldn't. All these thoughts and now I would just feel. In the middle of 2016, I suffered from psychological depression. Many of the good things which I listed in this review, vanished from my mind during that period. I was close to writing off the year, and joining the '2016 sucks' crowd. My mother told me despite the light that I give off, I've always seemed to have this subtle sadness she felt. My mother was one of the first people to detect I was going through stuff. Most of my friends didn't realize I was going through things, I've learned from my mother how to mask the sadness, as she did for many years with the burden of raising two you boys as a single mom. I've been known to have a very strong mental fortitude, but we all have our breaking point. My mother works in a nursing home and makes sure her patients have the best care. She often sacrifices her health, to extend the comfort and life of the elderly people she takes care off. She often has to lift up people twice her weight and has been injured because of it. She wants to leave her job, but there are not many options available. She was attacked by a patient and injured her back and shoulder and would require surgery that would put her out of work for six months, my heart sank. My younger brother(23) is also fighting battles with the law living in an environment and system designed to break young black males down. My youngest brother, 7, has all the energy in the world. He's the standout kid, all his babysitters, and teachers either brag or complain about. In addition, to his schooling, my mother tutors him to help him stay ahead of the curve. His energy and smarts will take him far one day. Right now he's living in the Bronx, in an environment that's not open and fertile enough to help him in reaching his full potential. He often gets in trouble in school, because the work is too easy for him and when he doesn't have his mind occupied he looks for something to do, and some of these things may go against rules. My mother see's his potential and prepared him to take the New York State Gifting and Talented Exam, for exceptional students. After months of hard work and preparation, he took the test, and I heard the great news that he passed with excellent marks! Education is the key to success and progress they say, and I don't want my little brother to have to go through the same hardships my brother and I faced. A couple of days later, my mother informed me that program said that all the gift schools she selected in the area had no seats available. My little brother would have to stay in his current school until they had seats. A couple weeks later my brother was suspended from 1st grade for fighting. The pressures of family issues and working in a job that wasn't fulfilling or technically challenging, among other things, prompted me to leave my job and take time off. With the extra time, I found myself alone with myself and many issues I've been hiding came to light. In an effort to distract myself, I turned to watching the news, something which I intentionally quit for good reasons. The first week of watching the news, a black man was shot every other day, and there was a graphic video for a number of the shootings, detailing the murders of innocent men. Immense fear drowned me. I watched as the black lives matters started to take off, and soon the protesters were being assaulted like animals. I read facebook, medium, and tweets, and realized the scope of the victimization hundreds of thousands of people can feel from the loss of one at the hands of racism and broken systems. With the rise of trump, I witnessed hatred and sexism being normalized and deeply empathize with all my friends and family who would feel the effects for the coming years. Many of these things I realize are out of my control, and a breakdown in mental habits to handle bad news turned my nature to deeply empathize into poison. Relationships:Growing up friends of family and family members used to call me and my brother, my mother's little soldiers. Walking the streets, as little boys we would protect her as much as we could. I remember many years back hearing my mother being catcalled and trying to understand what was going on. All, I knew, was I didn't like it. As I got older, I began to understand more and even saw friends whistling at women, or strangers outwardly catcalling. There is also a culture of guy talk and braggadocious behavior about the conquest of women that I have been very opposed to. I could only imagine, what women go through on the streets. I set and intention from a very young age, to have honor, integrity and respect towards women. When I tried online dating, while being mindful of respect, I had a lot of success in great conversations, which at one point led to five dates in a week. Although many of those didn't let into a relationship, I ended up dating someone I had previously known at the start of the year. We were very similar, and I realized I would have to compromise on things, and put extra effort into turning our shared communication weaknesses into something I could do better at. I had thanksgiving with her family the prior year and things seemed to be going well. And then she vanished. Summer energy and romance have a certain drunkenness to it. Mix some depression into it and you have yourself intense passion that quickly dies out. I met mystery girl in a random series of events and we started dating. I met her mother, one summer weekend on the way to the beach, greeted by the infamous "Welcome to the family", followed by a quick response of "MOM!", from her. We were both going through things but were very attracted to each other, it almost seemed like we each just needed some company. She was the super chill and relax type, with Netflix recommendation for days as I would try to balance reading, with bras being thrown on my books. We learned a lot about each other, but there was a lot of change going in our lives. We planned to go to Comic Con together, the one where I'm The Black Panther. I bought tickets, for her, her brother and her friend. We had been seeing each other for four months, then she vanished. I didn't see her at Comic Con and haven't heard from her since. The good guy in his honorable ways, had forgotten he could be the prey of others. Years prior, I heard of this thing called ghosting ((The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just "get the hint" and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels. —[Urban Dictionary]( http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ghosting) )). In 2016, I felt it. The feeling of abandonment is not a good feeling. Naturally, I would think to myself what went wrong? What could I have done differently? Is something wrong with me? I soon, came to the realization, that just because you're a good guy doesn't mean you'll be treated decently. What went on was disrespect, insecurity, lack of communication skills and lack of maturity. It took some time to realize these things, and I felt like a vulnerable blob of jello and began micro-analyzing myself for improvements. My honor was being tested and my finger hovered over Tinder as I felt the pull and temptation to get lost in lust, when all I needed was trust and care. I had lowered my standards, allowed myself to be open and vulnerable, but realized the hard way bad relationships can change good people. I do not intend to allowed a damaged person to cause me to damage someone else. I will continue to be open, and have faith that my resilience allows me to be vulnerable and remember to love, respect, be honorable and be accepting of others. But I will also change a stance of mine where I used to look for someone who has potential, towards someone who has actualized potential and has room to grow. A part of me feels like I have a better chance of finding this from close female friends who I could be more open-minded about the possibility of a relationship with. Top-Tier Interviews:When's the best time to get calls by Google, Facebook & Amazon to interview? When you're going through severe depression at the same time articles about the lack of diversity at these companies come out of course! I did feel very excited to hear from these companies all around the same time, but it was a like an air bubble of happiness in a bucket of sadness. My mother had surgery and would be out of work for six months, so I couldn't push these opportunities back as I needed to help her financially. I tried to grind through, isolating myself for two months researching algorithms and practicing to get through these difficult interviews, but I think it made things worse for my mental health. Although I did ok on the interviews, ok is not enough for the high bar these companies set. Broken Habits: Emotional and environmental stability, is a crucial part in building habits consistently. Both were extremely imbalanced for me this year and many of my habits collapsed towards the end of the year. [
Over the past 10 years, I have been able to eliminate and or reduce the following:
Socializing/Events: I will be significantly reducing the amount of events and random hangouts I have in 2017. I'm grateful for all of the new friends I've made in the past couple years, but there's just too much going on and I have very little interest in much of it. I will be much more selective in the events I go to, people I hang out with and be more strict with time boxing activities. Decisions that could be made ahead of time: I need to get back on my planning systems and reduce the amount of decisions I make on the fly and be more organized around planning my week and setting priorities for the day. Clothing: I have too much clothing and I need to do something about it. I will organize a list of clothing charities and donate quarterly to reduce the amount of clothes I have. News:I slipped up in 2016 being pulled into the news circus and found myself spending a lot of time watching the political drama unfold. I have already begun the process to unfollow all news organizations on my facebook and twitter as well as mute people in my newsfeed who mainly share negative news stories. Youtube:My youtube consumption has increased as I find myself watching a lot more music videos, interviews and show reviews/reactions. I will work on putting the right systems in place to reduce my usage and end the context switching I go through when I work with youtube in the background. Physical Book Purchases: Moving revealed the hassle of having so many physical books. I still enjoy reading physical books and will continue to invest in them, but I want to significantly reduce my purchase of them for the next two years and read more e-books; reserving physical book purchases in the mid-term to books I would gift, share or that have a high re-read value. Email / Messaging: Although, with no ill-intent, everyone wants a piece of your attention. I will work on disconnecting myself a bit from communication tools. Meaning I will intentionally try to be less responsive, and disable all notifications except for texts.
Communication & Scheduling Time in 2016
Social Media:The main category I will focus on reducing is facebook. I picked up on my increase in usage and have begun steps to curb my use.
[caption id="attachment_3012" align="aligncenter" width="750"][ Facebook.com[/caption]
The drop in usage around June, reflects when I installed news feed eradicator.
[caption id="attachment_3009" align="aligncenter" width="750"][ Facebook Mobile App[/caption]
The gap in time during March - May shows when I uninstalled the facebook app. When I installed news feed eradicator on desktop, my mobile use spiked. I uninstalled the facebook app again.
[caption id="attachment_3010" align="aligncenter" width="750"][ Facebook Mobile Site[/caption]
There was a short spike in usage accessing facebook from the mobile website, the interface is much slower and clunky which adds friction and I end up using it less over time.
The 1,250lb combined lift:I am ramping up my weightlifting this year and aiming for a 1,250lb combined lift: squat, deadlift, bench press. My current 1 rep max are, squat: 385 lbs, bench: 275lbs, deadlift: 405lbs = 1,065 total. My target weights are: squat:425 lbs, bench: 325 lbs, deadlift: 500 lbs. In addition, I will be attempting 9,001 pull ups in a year, to make up for missing my 5k goal last year. Yes, 1 extra. because...[
More Planning and Pomodoros:I experimented with planning less and saying yes more. There's a time and place for that, but I realize being focused my goals and being involved in many things requires structure, which I will work on building back up. New Job:I started a new job as a Software Engineer at Lifion, which is building the next generation of HR tools for ADP. I will be working on the team that builds the UI Engine running the platform. This is the most technically complex project I've been on and my teammates are extremely smart and great to be around. /dev/color facilitator: /dev/color is a non-profit that provides a network, mentorship, accountability and other resources for Black Software Engineers, who have historically faced challenges being represented in the tech industry and reaching their full potential. This non-profit, was formed in San Francisco, and this will be the first year of it's expansion to NY, and I will be one of the NY facilitators leading a squad, providing mentorship and coordinating meetings. Public Speaking:Towards the later half of the year, I had a number of successful talks, 3 of which led to more opportunities to speak to start out 2017. I want to do more public speaking this year, around productivity, technology, philosophy and life lessons. Book Club:I will be organizing a book club this year, under the personal development nerds group, with the help of two others, to read a wide range of books, non-fiction/fiction and to meet up once a month to discuss and provide reading support and accountability. Reading with more intent: A large portion of my reading is in the abstract and future-oriented form. Learning about things on a high level, and for skills, I usually don't have a need for in the near term. I will optimize my reading process to better prioritize books that solve immediate problems I'm facing or in acquiring skills directly tied to goals I have. Book data entry automation:I still have a lot of manual steps and data entry I have to go through to keep track of books I read and entering information for my books page. I was considering hiring a virtual assistant, and then I remembered, I'm a programmer and I can automate that shit. Improve note-taking process: It currently takes me 40%-50% of the time I read a physical book, to go back and transcribe the notes. So a 8 hr read would take 3-4hrs to type out, depending on how good I was as flagging sections. Blocking out that chunk of time isn't easy, and I've slipped on releasing book notes more consistently. I need to develop a better system to spread out my note taking overtime. Mental Models Page:A mental model is an idea or concept in your mind about how something works or can be interacted with. They are the tools you use to reason and think. Studying them you can learn about flaws in your thinking and make more sound decisions. Similar to the books page, I would like to organize a collection of useful mental models. Learning Data Science:I strongly believe, the data science profession and industry will have a huge impact in the coming years. Many of the products and services we use already utilize data science to make smarter business and feature decisions. On a personal level, I use data a lot to inform my personal and professional development and it has enabled me to think more analytically. The next steps for me will be to invest 2-4 years in building my Mathematical and Statistical foundation. Asking more questions: When I talk to people and they learn about my life, it's like I'm being interrogated. It's cool that people find me interesting, but I want to get better at exploring other people's stories instead of my own. Feel more comfortable about my drive:Being ambitious and driven can be lonely at times. I often get asked, 'So what do you actually do for fun', I enjoy learning, growing, enriching conversations and getting shit done, that's my fun, there's more to add but that's what comes to mind right now. Still, I find myself slightly confirming to doing things I don't enjoy or toning my intensity down, although it's mostly internal. I want to be better understood, although I'm aware people's perception of me is out of my control and I am working on accepting that. Creating 'The Manual':I want to write a personal document detailing who I am at different points of time and emotional states. It will be the Juvoni Manual, containing deep insights I learn about myself, values, insights, quirks, stories, goals, and motivations. I learned a lot about myself going through depression and I've learned a lot through my successes and interactions with others. I don't want the small or big moments of my life to go unobserved, I want to know myself, so I can focus on tackling external problems out in the world. The Manual, is what I will reference in times of need when I feel lost or need to remember who I am or who I'm building.