2016 in the hindsight

2016 is by far the best year in my life. It has been fantastic in all the aspects of my life.

I base this review on few important things I listed in my /now page.

Family

Our little family started new adventures in 2016. I started my cool new job. Sailu started her early childhood education studies in May and is doing well. Sam graduated from his pre-school and started his primary school soon after returning from India in July. He liked and transitioned smoothly into his new school.

After three long years, we traveled to India in the last week of May. We celebrated Sam’s fifth birthday at my parents house with family and friends. We spent most of our time in India visiting grandparents, relatives, and friends. I got to spend some time with my brother. He even taught me how to drive a manual car. I learned and enjoyed driving on the Indian roads amidst chaotic traffic and potholed roads. It has been such a wonderful trip to home that boarding the return flight felt terrible. After returning to New Zealand in the middle of July, it took me three months to fully come out of the homesickness.

This year is also significant on the family front because my relationship with my sister was deepened. I felt an intense longing for her at the end of 2015. Given our both immediate family situations and the physical distance, I wasn’t sure if our relationship could survive and continue. In an interesting series of events, she reciprocated my affection and we developed a great bonding.

Work

I finally became a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, ending my two-year quest. I first applied for this role in the August of 2014. After three applications, and two trials, I finally made it and started on the 18th of July, soon after returning from India.

I applied for Happiness Engineer role to turn my admiration for Matt and WordPress into something useful and meaningful. I felt this akin to falling in love with someone; you can’t consider someone else if the person you loved said no. I think this is why I did not lose enthusiasm even after turned down twice. I saw Happiness Engineer as my identity. So I code-named this quest as Chaitanya 3.0. I dedicated most of my spare time for this quest since July of 2014. I enjoyed every moment of it: learning WordPress.com, helping people in the WordPress.com forums, learning to write well, failing twice, creating my resumes, the two trials and finally making it. I am very proud of this struggle and glad that my efforts ultimately became fruitful.

Becoming a Happiness Engineer also means, I had to quit the job I enjoyed for four years at Orion Health. Like I said, I applied to Automattic to turn my admiration for Matt into something meaningful and take part in his mission; not because I am unhappy with my current job.

Orion Health offered me a great support role in the June of 2012 when I had no other options after my then employer filed bankruptcy. At that time I was literally left on the road without two months of salary and with little cash in the bank, and a family to feed. In that desperate situation, by offering me a job, Orion Health saved hard times for my family and revived my dream of living and working in the first world. So it was difficult for me to quit Orion Health. As much as I loved Orion Health, I couldn’t work for two employers at a time and I chose to move on from Orion Health. I left Orion Health with a heavy heart. But I left knowing that my work was appreciated. I was told I will be missed and that I am welcome back anytime. I am grateful for the opportunity to work for them and overwhelmed by the farewell I received.

Orion Health will always have a special place in my heart. I only stopped working for them. I still workout on their premises with the same awesome trainer and the workout group —who are now my ex-colleagues—I exercised with for the last three years.

But otherwise, I am glad to finally become a Happiness Engineer, continue building my career in customer support, and work for Matt and WordPress.

Travel

Since starting with Automattic in July, I traveled every other month to three different countries in 2016.

In the first week of my new job,  I flew to Jeju island in South Korea to meet some of my colleagues in the Asia region, my team lead who flew from the US, a teammate who flew from Pakistan and another teammate from Indonesia.

In September, I traveled to Canada for Automattic’s Grand Meetup. I spent a week meeting, working and bonding with my teammates and rest of the Automatticians from all over the world.

In November, I traveled to Singapore for our team meetup.

This is the first year I traveled these many countries in a single year.

Exercising and eating

I exercised 117 hours this year. These are fewer hours than last year, but it is still a lot of exercise hours considering I did not workout for two full months (June and July) when I traveled to India and South Korea. I also missed ten workouts when I traveled to Canada and Singapore.

At the beginning of this year I had a resolution to get six-pack abs. This is not for vanity. I see six-pack abs as the result of astronomical levels dedication, hard work and sacrifice. I also wanted to work on six-pack abs to practice mindful eating and overcome my fondness (err…greediness) for food.

But all the hard work, great time, little sleep, celebrations, holidays and travel this year means, I ate good food and a ton of it! So the six-pack abs still remain elusive. However, in the gym I am picking up higher weights than ever and my body fat percentage continues to be in the fit range.

I continued my weekly running streak from 2015 summer and ran every Sunday for the rest of the summer in the first part of the year. I ran Round The Bays in March and WWWP5K in Whistler in Canada with my coworkers. I completed both the runs with reasonable performance. But unlike in 2015, I did not run every Sunday in the second half of 2016.

I think overall I moved enough in 2016.

Meditating and playing elevate

I lost my 234-day meditation streak in March. From then on my meditation streak has been spotty. I got back on track with meditation, but I haven’t been as regular as I hoped to be. But I meditated fair number of days and enjoyed it.

I also lost 610 day long Elevate streak in June. But this is not my fault. The streak was solid until I had to return the iPhone 5 when I left Orion Health at the end of May. I had to wait until October to buy iPhone 7. Meanwhile I temporarily used my old iPhone 4 running iOS 7. The latest version of Elevate app requires at least iOS 8. The iOS 7 version of the Elevate app performed terribly and crashed multiple times in iPhone 4. And at the start of my holidays in India, I did not have a reliable internet connection. So between moving time zones and iPhones, I couldn’t play Elevate some days.

Later in June, I rebuilt the streak by changing the phone’s time to the missed dates and played every game. This is kind of cheat, but I couldn’t let go of something I built over the past few years due to what I see is a logistics problem. I didn’t have to cheat ever since I got my iPhone 7 in October.

Blogging

I wrote 46 posts on this blog in 2016. I also posted some photos on my photoblog.

I set a new social media policy this year: Share on blog first. Everywhere else next. This means, my words will be first posted to this blog, and my photos will be first posted to my photo blog. Then my blogs’ Twitter and Facebook connections will push my words and photos to those closed, proprietary social networks.

I also changed this blog’s address to shorter chait.blog. Many thanks to my employer Automattic who owns .blog and offered one .blog domain of choice for free to all its employees. I also created chait.photo.blog (a free sub-domain of photo.blog), for my photo blog.

Reading

I read the following books and liked all of them:

  • So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
  • The Rich Employee – James Altucher
  • The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. – Richard Carlson
  • The Art of Troubleshooting – Jason Maxham

Learning to write well

I love to write, although I don’t intend to become a writer. I write as a hobby, and to feel better when I am low. Writing well is also important for succeeding in my job. I see learning to write well as a life long process. As part of this, I read the following classics this year. I intend to re-read all these books every year.

  • The Elements of Style – William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White
  • Eight Letters to a Young Writer – Teju Cole
  • Style : the basics of clarity and grace – Joseph M. Williams
  • On writing well : the classic guide to writing nonfiction / William Zinsser

New Zealand citizenship

Five years after becoming permanent residents, we were granted New Zealand citizenship in December. But since India doesn’t allow dual-citizenship, I had to let go of my Indian passport and citizenship. It is weird that I will be treated as a foreigner in the country I was born and raised. Nevertheless, I see myself as both an Indian and a New Zealander; both countries are close to my heart.

That pretty much sums up my 2016. I couldn’t ask more from it. Thank you 2016 for being nice and kind to me.

Here’s to great 2017.

5 thoughts on “2016 in the hindsight

  1. Wow. Glad to hear that after three applications and two trials you finally got LUCKY! As someone who is looking to land myself a job at Automattic once I graduate; I will take your story as an inspiration – to not give up even if I fail in the first place. Way to go brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know you had two trials before getting hired at Automattic. I felt really encouraged reading about your quest since I’m getting ready to apply again. Hope to see you soon in queues 🙂

    Like

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