A year in review

I write this entry at the end of one of the most important years in my life.

Just as I have read posts from the past to learn about who I was when I first started writing this blog, my hope is that I can reflect on this post in years to come and perhaps see the words I’m writing now in a fresh perspective.

This year has seen a lot of changes. Not all of them good, not all of them bad.

Changes at work

When the company I worked for was acquired, the old C-level cashed out and left the company. For the year that followed, I did the role of the CTO of that part of the business. However, after some 17 years working in the same product line and technology stack I decided it was time to try and work on something different.

I took over a new product that the acquiring business was bringing to market. The product has been troubled with quite long engineering delays and high expectations about this new product being the future of the business.

The company has been rocked with a series of high profile exits. Most of the C-suite we started with at the beginning of the year are no longer working for the company. The challenges have not just been at this level. I’ve also seen a fair number of the people I worked with in the organisation either be made redundant or leave off their own volition.

Change isn’t necessarily bad but it isn’t easy.

For years, I worked with largely the same group of people delivering the same sort of software. At the end of 2023, the entire landscape has changed.

Those relationships were never going to last decades. I’ve always known that I’d lose touch with all my colleagues long before I reach the twilight years of my life. Even though I knew this intellectually, emotionally it still hurt just the same.

The passing of my Dad

My Dad died of cancer in November of this year. This is a loss quite unlike any other. There are so many thoughts here that need to be digested. This will take time. Probably a significant amount of time. There’s lots of the big questions about life and its meaning and what that means both for me and my family.

Most of us are destined to have a pretty small impact on the course of history. Most of us will live our lives, have a small funeral, and the world will move on. Myself included. It makes that brief time in the sun that we all have, that bit more real.

I take solace that in the last few months of his life we spent quality time together discussing the things that matter. I sat with him as he died, carried his coffin and delivered his eulogy. There is little more I could have done to honour our bond both as a son and a friend.

Completion of the Cambridge CTO Programme

When I applied for the CTO Programme at Cambridge, I didn’t really think I had a hope of actually getting on the course. When I got the e-mail saying I’d been accepted on the programme I was overjoyed.

I knew what lay ahead was a significant commitment. I had to complete a lot of assignments and of course attend the on-site phase of the programme at Cambridge.

Actually committing to this and getting it done has been a huge achievement this year. It turned the page on my academic failures of the past.

Starting a degree with the Open University

Given my success in the CTO programme, I decided to start a much longer project to get a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. I’ve been doing the very first modules of that course over the last few months.

I’m pleased to say this has been a success so far. The two tutor-marked assessments I’ve had back from my first module both had grades above 90%. Sustaining this level of achievement will become progressively more difficult as the material gets harder. But for now, at least, it’s good to be tackling the material and being rewarded for the effort I’ve put in.

Getting back in to Aviation

For a long time, I stopped flying light aircraft. Flying is expensive and quite hard to fit around the schedule with young children.

As the kids have gotten older, it has freed up more time to pursue this hobby. I did a few things this year:

These increase my skills as a pilot but also gets me back in to a hobby I enjoy.

Going to Disney Land

I don’t normally mention my wife and family on this blog really out of privacy and respect for them, however, in this narrow case I’ll make an exception.

We all went to Disney Land Paris for a week in August this year. I loved it and I think the whole family enjoyed that experience. When I’ve been reflecting on the time I spent with my Dad, I wanted to make sure that my wife and kids have similar core memories to refer back to. I think I succeeded in giving that to my family with that trip.

The no-expense spared nature of the trip meant we got the full experience. I’m glad we got to do that as a family.

A full year without alcohol

This is my first full, complete, calendar year without alcohol. Towards the end of January 2022, I drank my last drink and haven’t had one since.

My relationship with alcohol has always been a challenge. I was never an alcoholic in the sense that I’d get up in the morning and drink. That never happened. But I was drinking enough 2-3 times a week and drinking a lot in those sessions. It was starting to affect those around me. I could see where it was going and I didn’t like what I saw.

There’s the obvious health benefits from stopping drinking for sure, but most of all it stole my happiness. A lot of the good stuff I’ve done that I listed above is really driven by the renewed motivation found from simply being a happier person.

Looking forward to 2024

I think it was Tony Blair who said that “you should wake up each day with a sense of purpose and go to bed counting your blessings.”

It’s that sort of spirit I want to take forward in to 2024:

If I do each of those things, then I will be able to look upon 2024 as a successful year.

  1. 2023-12-31 23:55 GMT
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