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Tim Downey
Tim Downey

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2020 Goals

When it comes to goals and self-improvement, I have a nasty habit of being over-ambitious and over-committing myself -- as evidenced by the piles of technical books and unused yoga equipment cluttering my apartment. And it's not that I don't achieve anything. Last year I completed Georgia Tech's online Masters in Computer Science (OMSCS) and published seventeen posts on, for example. It's more that I have trouble focusing on a single thing and seeing it to completion.

This year I'm going to focus and plan to complete a smaller number of measurable goals. Last year I focused pretty heavily on academic Computer Science, even to the detriment of my physical health a bit. Although I will continue to grow technically, I'm planning on mixing in more fitness and wellness related work. Here's my tentative plan for 2020.

Technical Goals

Earn the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) certificate

In 2019 I began my Kubernetes journey in earnest. At Pivotal, I left my Ruby comfort zone and transferred to a team tasked with figuring out the ingress and container-to-container networking for Cloud Foundry on Kubernetes. I was even fortunate enough to attend KubeCon 2019 in San Diego, which truly immersed me in the Kubernetes community.

This year I plan on continuing to grow my Kubernetes expertise both at work on VMware Tanzu and at home via blogging and self-study. To help focus my efforts here, I will be working toward earning the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) certificate. I honestly don't expect the cert to buy me much professionally. Still, I am hoping some structured study will help fill the Georgia Tech coursework void I'm feeling. 🙃

Learn Go

Learning the Go programming language has been an annual goal for me, and I still feel like I have a long way to go on this front. Though the team I'm on now does use Go, I still am way more comfortable with Ruby. This year I'm going to make a concerted effort to change that.

I will finally finish reading through my copy of The Go Programming Language and work through this copy of Thorsten Ball's Writing an Interpreter in Go that's been sitting on my desk for the past two years.

I also plan on working on some toy side projects to develop more familiarity with it. Maybe I'll rewrite my crufty image editing CLI in Go. 🤔 Or perhaps I'll write a web-scale Cloud Native GETFILE server implementation in it.

Self-study Distributed Systems

Though I've been working with distributed systems practically for the past four years, I feel like I lack some of the theoretical foundations. This year I plan on reading through this Distributed Systems textbook. One of the co-authors (Tanenbaum) wrote an Operating Systems book I've used previously, and the book has pretty positive reviews, so it seems like a solid course of action. To hold my self accountable while reading, I plan on taking detailed notes either with or as through blog entries -- still haven't decided on that front. Once I've completed the book, I plan on tying in some of the theoretical concepts to the practical distributed systems I work on through blog posts.

The Plan

In the past, I would have tried to tackle all three of these at once, but this year I'm planning on doing them roughly in order. First, I'll focus on Kubernetes -- at least until I pass the CKA certification exam. Then I'll work toward finishing the Golang-related books I've got. After that's done, I'm hoping I can combine my Go side project and Kubernetes goals a bit. Maybe I'll write the GETFILE server to run on Kubernetes and write a tutorial for it? 🏄

Fitness Goals

Lose Weight

My number one goal this year is to shed the pounds I gained during the OMSCS and drop back down to a healthier level. I plan on doing this primarily through diet. I haven't had much luck with calorie counters in the past because I found they led me to eat foods that were easy to track. By this, I mean pre-packaged food with scannable labels or at restaurants that had existing meal submissions. Instead, I am planning on cutting way down on fried foods, soda, and eating out. This year I will be frequenting the produce section at Whole Foods and sticking to fresh vegetables (especially kale 😋) and home-cooked meals.

Improve Cardio Performance

I've always hated cardio. However, I just turned thirty, and the dangers of cardiovascular disease suddenly seem more real. I'm pretty out of shape at this point, so I am planning on doing a modified version of the popular "Couch to 5k" program called "none to run". It's a bit slower and takes longer, but has a larger emphasis on mobility and stretching, which I think will be good for me.

Get Back Into Yoga

Back when I lived in Kansas City, I had a very regular yoga practice. Ninety minutes, twice a week with the awesome Bernie Koehrsen. That practice has fallen by the wayside since moving out to the Bay Area, and I'd like to remedy that. This year I plan on taking a yoga class at least one weekend a month.

Odds and Ends

This year, I also plan on becoming more financially literate. The acquisition of Pivotal by VMware and forced stock sell-offs that followed made me realize I really don't understand the financial space as much as I would like. I don't yet have a plan on how to improve in this area, but I most certainly would like to! 🤑

That said, these are my goals for the year. So far, at least. 😬 At this point, they all feel both actionable and achievable, so here's to 2020!

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