As we move into August (ahem), and past the halfway mark of the year, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at my hopes and aims for 2022 and see how things are coming along. I feel like I'm lagging a little, mainly thanks to a solid month of COVID and a change in job which has left me with less free time and less mental capacity during the free time that I do have (though, to be clear, the move has been incredibly successful so far and I don't view these as negative outcomes).
So, back in January I divided my various thoughts up into the things that I want "to end", the things "to start", and the things "to continue". Might as well stick to that format here, too 😉
I've made some decent progress on the archiving side of things. Most importantly, we managed to find the time for Alison to kickstart that process herself, and we recently received the final van load of boxes from her parents' house. This means we have both fully moved out/in – depending on your point of view – which definitely feels like a fairly major milestone 😁
I still need to find some dedicated time to dig through my remaining "unsorted" boxes in the roof, my "break" between jobs proved too short to really fix the email and browser tab issues (though I am now back to a manageable inbox), and I'm only about halfway through working out the new filing system for the house, but other systems are maturing nicely. WorkFlowy continues to be the cornerstone of my productivity and I have finally purchased a proper license, giving me unlimited entries and the ability to add images, which has come in useful a couple of times. That has freed me up to be a bit more granular in the content I store there, which has turned it into an even more useful digital archiving and filing system. Still more work to be done, but some marked improvements.
The life logs continue to be backend only. Honestly, I'm feeling like this may not be achievable in 2022 at all. I become less certain about how to tackle the issues around privacy each time I sit down to map it out, and I'm increasingly unsure of what tech stack I want to use for it. Another spanner is that, as life has picked up again "post" COVID, I'm finding it harder and harder to keep on top of the backlog, and finding more and more edge cases which I may yet conclude mean a fairly big 180 on some of the architectural decisions I made in 2021. On the other hand, the back end has had some really useful quality of life tweaks and it looks like Craft 4 may have some extra features that could help streamline it all further. Right now, my hope for this year is to at least test out an API structure that might work and would free up the data entry to be a little less intensive moving forward.
Health is a bit more of a positive story (🎉). I haven't quite managed the dentist yet, but our trip to the Azores forced my hand on getting my eyes checked up and new glasses made, plus our recent "Walk to Mordor" challenge has meant that we're out and about, doing various long walks once again. I'm not seeing any specific weight loss as a result, but it does feel like my general health has been improving, and my back has had fewer complaints, so I'm hoping that this is a broadly positive trend. It should also force me to get back on the cycle machine, but the current heatwave is making that an unlikely thing in the short term 😂
Another positive trend is on the vinyl site. Whilst I haven't managed to write up any of the process or finish any of the draft articles about it, I did find a weekend to iron out the last bugs in the advanced Scrobbling functionality and get that live. There are still a few extra things I'd like to add or tweak, but it is functioning extremely well at this point and getting a decent amount of use!
Finally, I've found that a low-brain activity is searching through online sites for the bits and pieces that I need to complete my various collections, and have found some absolute bargains as a result. I'm happy to say that I'm now a proud owner of the entire runs of Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four, the "ultimate" arc of Ultimate Spider-Man, and the whole core arc for Knightfall (there are still a couple of prequel/sequel stories I'd like to add). The Brightest Day set is at 90% completion, with only one or two trade paperbacks left to track down, and I pooled a bunch of vouchers and favours for my birthday and bought a good chunk of the Discworld novels I was missing. It's still a horribly consumerist goal, but it is on track for a win, so I'll take it 😉
Despite some ribbing from friends and family, we have managed some good wedding planning progress. There's still a lot to do, but the ball is firmly rolling, and some big decisions have already been made 🥳 It's helped that several of our friends have either gotten married or engaged in the last six months, so there's a decent amount of discussion around the subject, including idea swapping, so hopefully we can keep the pressure up and start locking in some actual dates 😬
Smart tech has probably had just as much time spent on the planning, but with far fewer tangible results. I've tried (and failed) to begin utilising the smart side of some of our existing appliances, and the complete lack of Raspberry Pi's in the world has hampered any attempts to begin learning Home Assistant. At this point, it feels like more of an autumnal/wintery plan anyway. That said, we did manage to set up a smart network for when we go away, with a combination of smart light bulbs and wall sockets that allowed me to automate lighting and a few other key electronics to give the appearance of occupation (and to keep the dehumidifier running 😅), though I'd give this about a 3-star rating. It works, but it has convinced me that smart switches will be a superior long-term plan to smart bulbs. Speaking of which, we recently made a few key purchases for the living room that have reignited the need to look into that space once again, so maybe there will be more to report come 2023 than I currently expect.
As for reading and exercise, these are both mixed bags. I've successfully managed to increase the amount of reading, but nothing has really stuck yet. I did manage to go through a period where I'd read straight after work (I liked to think of it as a "couch commute"; about an hour of time set aside at the end of the day without screens) and really enjoyed that, so I'll definitely be trying to get that working again, but it's not quite there yet. On the other hand, exercise is definitely improved thanks to the Mordor challenge, but (as mentioned) still has some way to go to feel like progress has been made.
On the exploration front, though, we're doing really well! We made it out to the Azores in March/April, which was incredibly fun and oddly terrifying. Turns out, not leaving one country for several years and then jumping on a plane (in a pandemic) and landing somewhere that doesn't speak the same language is jarring – I think I'd forgotten that! Still, we had a great time, we explored a completely new culture, and even managed some pretty exceptional wildlife experiences. I mean, seeing a blue whale up close is going to be hard to top 😉 Not that we haven't tried – we've done more than a little exploration around South England, including a break to Budleigh, and have plans for a few more small, in-country jaunts in the coming months (and possibly another international one to boot).
At the same time, the whole "thinking in smaller chunks" has been a huge success. The rolling over of a new month now triggers a sort of brief planning session to work out which days we will do friends and which days we'll go out into nature, and it's been great. It does significantly reduce general free time, which is getting in the way of various other goals, but that's an exceptionally good issue to have, in my book. I've also really gotten into the Cortex podcast, through which I've started dabbling in their journalling system. This has helped with short-term goals (for which I'm using WorkFlowy, of course), but I've also picked up their "proper" journals for both myself and Alison. I'm not quite there with actually using it, but it's sat next to me as a reminder to start formulating some of this stuff a bit more clearly.
I've already touched on the whole life logging and WorkFlowy improvements, but I do think this goal is going well. I'm still staying on top of media and other data entry way better than I've ever done in the past, and I've introduced some new systems for logging walks and travel, whilst streamlining food records and a few other bits and pieces. As I said further up, it is getting a little tricky in places, and there's still work to do, but I'm happy with the current state of things.
The "get back to nature" goal is going fairly well, too. We've done plenty of trips out to RSPB sites and nature reserves; I've started recording a log of the wildlife we've seen from our house (which now includes an adorable semi-resident fox that we've nicknamed Herb); and I've got a brand new camera which has unlocked some great photography options. During the brief period of unemployment between jobs, I even managed to take myself away on several hikes and photo sessions by myself, which was idyllic (and really made me yearn for a 4-day working week 😅). On the other hand, plans to get involved locally or spin off a "new online identity" are firmly on hold. I'd go so far as to say that they are 2023 goals now, though I do hope to do some work around that area over Christmas, to help that process run a bit more smoothly next year.
Friends are also going strong, with many a night of revelry at the new house, helped along by Alison's excellent birthday gift to me of a new braai. We've even had a mini housewarming a couple of weeks ago, and have now hosted both sets of parents multiple times, including having mine stay in their caravan at the end of the garden (a feat that will never be repeated 😂). Heck, we've got a friend from up North coming down and staying tomorrow, and then a board games evening the night after that, so yeah, this one is going very well so far 😊 Oh, and relatedly, gaming is becoming an increasingly social aspect of my life. Between League of Legends, Fall Guys, and now Polytopia (plus the myriad trivia games and Wordle clones that blew up this year) I'm gaming more than I have for many years and largely with friends. I still haven't quite finished AC: Odyssey, but only because the final expansion is huge and every time I think I'm getting to the end, it unveils a whole new region 😄
Which brings me, finally, to the whole "front end" plan. Well, I've alluded to it a few times, but following our trip to the Azores I returned to realise that if I wanted this to properly work, I needed to switch tracks. The company I was at had been incredibly supportive, but the roadmap was increasingly pulling me away from the areas I want to be working in. By May I was in multiple interview processes, and by June I'd started a new role. I'm now a Senior Front End Engineer (✨ ooh, fancy ✨) working as a consultant at a large creative agency/web studio. It's still early days, but so far the work I'm doing is perfect: Jamstack web development with a strong focus on accessibility and component architectures. Time will tell, but right now it feels like a really positive step in the direction I wanted to head.
I've also begun hanging around a couple of additional online communities more closely aligned to these areas of interest, which has made the Eleventy decision a little trickier. Between Astro, Remix, Svelte, and a couple of others, I'm starting to feel the famous front-end treadmill effect, but it's a fun problem to have (for now).
Overall, then, I'm actually surprisingly happy with how things are going. Everything that I wanted to double down on is now more a part of my daily life than I think I'd realised, and whilst I may not have made as much progress on some of the other goals, there's nothing here that I can say isn't further along than it was in January. I think that might be a first for one of these mid-year reviews! 😊