- I started bellydance in the Spring. By end of the year, I am dancing at a beginning-intermediate level, extremely happy with my progress, and confident dancing around good friends. I look forward to a great deal more learning in the coming year.
- I "found my feet" on tech skills at work. Having finally learned enough Hibernate and Wicket to be coding at roughly the skill level I'm used to, I'm far more confident tackling bigger challenges like I did in past years. I feel like "me" again. Being a beginner was disorienting (give up working where you're fast and fluent, and start all over in something nuanced, hard, and completely new, with a high degree of perfection required? yeah that's rough) but it was totally worth it for opening new doors. I've grown so much and that has opened possibilities in my own mind for my future. I'm past the "stuck" point I was at in career growth about 2 years ago. Having a good mentor was a significant catalyst; working my ass off was the rest of it. :)
- I built local friendship connections and identified local events where I'm likely to find more people of the sort I enjoy hanging out with. You guys are awesome.
- I found ufyh.com (Unfuck Your Habitat) and have been improving on my "make it a habit" skills. Seriously, she's really onto something with the "no marathon cleaning, just build a daily routine" thing. The blog format really works well to support that, too.
- My self-concept shifted internally. I am more assertive, more confident, more secure, and more clear on what I want and who I am. I stopped seeing myself as "less than." This is a major shift in quality of life, but I don't really know how I accomplished it. It just kind of happened along the way while I was busy living and maturing.
- I made decisions about what I want to learn in the next few years to build towards my career 10 years in the future. Data analysis and statistics, here I come. After that, machine learning and natural language processing, which I find absolutely fascinating as a messy, complicated, and USEFUL frontier of science. This is the whole realm of content categorization, search technologies, sentiment analysis, product or ad recommendations, movie recommendations... it's how tech enables people to find meaningful paths through the mountains of stuff on the internet. Somebody's got to build and improve that stuff - why not me? :) It fascinates me. I need at least 5 years of serious formal education, though, to get where I want to be. It'll be a while.
"Formal education" does not necessarily mean University. It does mean carefully and deeply learning all of the relevant material, both theory and practice, with lots of hands-on time and interaction with others in the field.
- Started learning Japanese. Learned all my hiragana thoroughly, learned katakana kinda weakly, and learned about 400 vocabulary words plus basic grammar. Read about 2/3 of the way through a Level 1 graded reader, without a dictionary, before I started to encounter things I couldn't translate. (Woot!!) Learned to recognize (but not draw) about 15 kanji. Since I used to be afraid of learning a foreign language, the fact that I am learning Japanese casually for relaxation is a comment on how much my mind has changed. The real key is that I have no deadline, no tests, and no stopping point (semester breaks etc). It's just a daily practice, indefinitely.