Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Looking back on 2015

For seven out of the last eight years that I've been writing this blog, I've written reflections on the preceding year. This has been a year of settling in. No major life changes. This should be one of our least complicated tax years ever! Well, for me at least. Jon has continued doing a variety of freelance work that had him traveling several times (it came in waves!) and had several great professional achievements unlocked ;-) Adele is 2.5 and clearly moved from toddler to child in the last year. She's 100% out of diapers, even overnight! I enjoyed planting more flowers in the yard, especially natives, and got to know many more people from the neighborhood. Work, well, that's most of what I write about on this blog so you can just read the other 2015 posts to re-live the anxiety that was this year.

In January I laid out some goals for the year. Let's see how I did!

Get that chapter published.
Yes! I did it! It was a huge weight off of my shoulders to get that out there.

Archive data from my dissertation.
I archived the data associated with the aforementioned chapter that was finally published as well as data from a second chapter, though not the second chapter I intended to archive this year! Not bad.

Define a 5-year career goal.
I've failed at defining a longer-term goal, but I did realize that I do have a near-term dream job in mind. I talked about it with my boss, coworker, and went out on a limb to mention the idea to the person most crucial to make it happen who was receptive to it. One problem with this dream job is that it would probably pretty insecure financially (aren't they always?!); there are plenty of other problems, but maybe I'll be able to push this idea along next year.

Make a will.
We made progress on this in fits and starts. Under pressure of deadline for writing this exact post, I finally plugged our names into a basic template (approved by a lawyer in the family) and printed it out. The next time we have adults over to witness, we'll sign. It's nothing complicated and the primary reason is to have clarity about what would happen to Adele if we both died. I thought about including more contingencies if the worst should happen (e.g. if we all die, donate all of our money to Small Friendly College), but for now we're keeping it simple. We don't really have much to leave behind anyways. I think we finally crossed into positive net worth this year (i.e. we now have more in retirement savings than in car and student loans).

Open a bank account for Adele.
Done! Now it just needs more money...

Make a friend.
I've made several! When we moved here 2 years ago, Jon jumped back into his circle of high school friends and quickly picked up a few others through mutual contacts. I hang out with them too, but I was lacking in my own friends. I now feel like I have a few close friends at work (bonds strengthened by adversity!), some local collaborator-ish friends (meaning our paths cross somewhat professionally), and some neighborhood parent friends. Most importantly, these are my friends first.

Become a better conversationalist.
I've mostly succeeded in this by more often putting myself in situations without Jon and/or Adele around to lean on/distract me, but it has also gotten easier to hold a conversation as A has gotten more independent.

Start a photo booking group.
This has been a huge success and is how I got the aforementioned neighborhood parent friends. I now have about 6 moms who come over about once a month to hang out on Friday or Saturday night. We talk a lot and do variable amounts of work on photo books (sometimes none!). These are parents with whom I feel we have a tremendous amount in common in terms of our approaches to all kinds of parenting issues. Finding these folks is one of the best things I did in 2015.

Make monthly and weekly goals.
I made weekly goals for most of the year. It does help keep me on track and focus on what is most important in a sea of more things that I'd like to do than I can possibly make time for.

I'll post my 2016 goals soon. Thank you to anyone who still finds this blog interesting enough to read. Goodbye, 2015!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Yeah, that's pretty much what happened

A month ago I wrote that I was about to get told my project was toast. Almost all of my predictions were dead on. My project is ending; I'm being shifted to the project I already had a foot in. Things worked out a little differently for my half-report, but nothing very surprising.

I went in with a heavy heart and tried to keep the daggers from my eyes under control in the meeting. I'm glad I spent the time blogging the night before because it really helped me process so I didn't have to do it all that day. I probably would have cried.

Surprisingly, I was already feeling much better about the change just a day later. For the first time in months, I have clarity about my work. I've joined a much larger team of people. It's a project that I know is important to people other than just me and my boss, and I know that my role in context of the larger project is highly valued. All of the work that I did on my dying project is highly relevant for this, including a valuable relationship that I developed. I also get to do lots of networking, get outside a bit, and maybe a little travel. I like this new job.

I still haven't widely communicated this change, mostly because I've been too caught up with all of the time-sensitive responsibilities of my new project. There's also an order in which people have to be told, and the person who made this decision held up part of that chain for a couple of weeks. I feel like the reason I have to give for the project ending is pretty weak but any other answer becomes much more complicated (and speculative, considering that I've never heard a clear reason from the person in control). It has been interesting to hear responses from the people I've told so far.

Because of the current timeline of my new project, I should have clarity about my work for the next six months. Beyond that, I might re-enter a new phase of uncertainty. Ideally, we'll figure out in the next six months what's next but realistically I'm not so sure that will happen. But I'm good for now.