At the end of each year, I like to look back and think of all the moments that made that year. This time, I wanted to try also writing it down so that I can better remember this year full of ups and downs.
Thematically, 2021 was the year of working on myself. At least that’s what it felt like to me. I shifted to a lower gear with regards to work and prioritized my mental health. I also rediscovered the pull towards building–by working on a side project and even committing to this writing experiment. And while we navigated year two of the pandemic, I was still able to spend a lot of quality time with the people I love the most. I feel privileged and grateful for all this.
So here’s 2021 in review.
Sabbatical: I started the year off by taking a 4-month sabbatical. First, I felt a lot of resistance even deciding whether to take one. Then it took me about a month to fully disconnect from work and rid myself of the feeling of guilt from not working. But in March, we left Brooklyn and spent the whole month at a cabin in Lake Tahoe, California. That time was so precious to me and brings back a lot of fuzzy memories–going on hikes with Simba, skiing, or making fresh pasta with our close friends who stayed with us. This was also the time when I finally started regular therapy. Life got in the way in the second half of the sabbatical, and suddenly I was organizing our move from the US to Canada. Even though this wasn’t the Eat Pray Love kind of sabbatical, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to take the time and invest it in me. It completely changed how I value the importance of taking time off.
Side project: Back in November 2020, I took off to spend a weekend in the Slovak mountains with my friend Martin. We wanted to work together on something from scratch. Eventually, that weekend, we came up with Hammock, our take on reading and learning from newsletters, and worked on it on and off throughout 2021. Building something from inception, and most importantly, working with someone I like and can learn from felt really energizing and got me through many of the lows of the year.
Got acquired: Slido, the bootstrapped startup from Slovakia I joined 6 years ago, got acquired by Cisco in May. This was a big accomplishment for everyone at the company as well as the start of a new chapter. After I returned from my sabbatical, I joined a team at Cisco to help them launch the new Webex platform. The 7 months I spent there were a great opportunity for gaining context on how things truly work in big tech, but as one person said to me: “This is probably the first and last time you work at a Fortune 100 company…”.
Moved countries: After just 3 years of living in the US, my wife and I got a one-month notice to leave the country due to visa issues. I wrote about this in a bit more detail in my other post about moving. We knew we wanted to stay in North America and as far as intuition went, we also knew that Vancouver would be a great place to call home (we had visited once before). But just so I could also satisfy my need for a spreadsheet, we created a decision matrix with possible cities ranked based on a dozen of attributes. A few weeks later, we shipped all our belongings from Brooklyn, gave our dog some CBD, boarded the plane to Vancouver, and started our two quarantines. Moving to a new country during a pandemic isn’t exactly fun.
Exploring BC: Moving to British Columbia just before the summer turned out to be really good timing to explore the beauty of Vancouver Island and the rest of the province. We went camping in Golden Ears Provincial Park, surfing in Tofino and hiked the Juan de Fuca trail, which was probably my favorite. I’m surprised how much we managed to pack in and with every trip I grew more convinced that this is a place where I want to spend some time.
Community: 2021 was also the year of reaching out to the community. In January, I joined the inaugural cohort of On Deck’s First 50 program. It felt great to be surrounded by talented people from all sorts of backgrounds who were asking the same question as I was: “What’s next?”. We also continued to regularly meet with my group from The Grand. I met these people for the first time in September 2020, and although I haven’t seen any of them in person to this day, every reunion feels like coming home. And finally, a month ago, I joined the Foster community of writers and editors who help me stay committed to writing.
I’m ending 2021 feeling grounded and excited for all the transitions that 2022 will bring. Joining the team at On Deck in January, but most importantly, welcoming our first baby this spring and learning how to be a great dad and a partner to a new mom.
Happy New Year, everyone! 🥳