2017 Review and 2018 Goals


2017 is officially over and 2018 is here. As I sit here on New Year’s Day, I figured it would be a good time to reflect on everything that happened in 2017, as well as what I’m looking forward to achieving in 2018.

What worked

Probably the biggest accomplishment for 2017 was my transition into a new role as a Solutions Architect at AWS. I had done the internal interview for this position in December of 2016, but the transition was finalized in February 2017. I spent the next few months learning my new role. I’m very happy that I made the move and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to work with a number of local customers and get to help them in their cloud journeys.

The year before (2015), I had been involved with Toastmasters as a way of improving my public speaking. Looking back, this experience was very helpful in preparing me for my current role, since I do have to speak in front of customers. However, that wasn’t the original reason I joined Toastmasters (my sister actually encouraged me), but nonetheless, it was very helpful. Unfortunately, I had to discontinue attending the meetings due to the number of time commitments in my life, but I will take the lessons forward with me and maybe I will re-enroll in the future.

I also recently hit my four year anniversary working at AWS! I remember when I left my previous company, I overheard someone say something to the effect that “they really must have pissed Ronnie off for him to leave and go work in support.” That statement says so many things, but I wouldn’t trade my experience in AWS Support for anything. I could write a whole article on career development (which I probably will at some point), but I knew at the time that making the move to AWS was the best thing for my career. Since then, I’ve had so many opportunities and been exposed to so much that I wouldn’t get to see anywhere else.

Personal life

This past year also marks one year that we’ve been in our house in Dallas! When we moved in, I remember being overwhelmed by the number of projects and furniture to make the place feel like ours. When you own a house, there is no shortage of the number of projects you can find. The project I’m most proud of is the home automation integration using SmartThings and Alexa. The scary thing about Home Automation is that it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole–I’m already thinking about future follow-on projects.

Our vacations had a theme this year–desert landscape. In the spring, we went to Lake Powell and Scottsdale, Arizona. This past fall, we went to Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs, both in California. I am not the type of person that can be lazy on vacation, but rather I enjoy being active and exploring activities I may not get a chance to do back home. The highlight of these vacations in my mind is the rock climbing we did in Joshua Tree. At some point, I need to post an album of the photos from there. Rock climbing was a lot of fun and it’s definitely something that I want to do again in the future.

Ronnie rock climbing
Ronnie rock climbing

2018 Goals

I did a planning exercise for 2018 where I listed the things that I want to work on and accomplish. Looking at the items, a common theme emerged and that was around wanting to do things that are more “purposeful.” What is purposeful? My definition of purposeful is taking the time to do the things that are enriching and show thoughtfulness. It’s the little things that show attention to detail.


I won’t lie, I’m a geek at heart. Looking back, I feel like I’ve tried every organization system known to man:

  • Daily planners (High School and Early College)
  • PDA (I actually had an HP Jornada in college)
  • Various other methods
    • Outlook
    • GTD (with OmniFocus)
    • Evernote
    • Onenote
    • Asana

Each one has their pros and cons. While I’m a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, keeping up with the system has always been a challenge, particularly on the tools side. The nice thing about GTD is that it does not dictate you use a particular tool. I recently re-discovered Bullet Journal again, so that is what I’ll be using for 2018 to stay organized.

Leuchtturm1917 notebook and Lamy Al-Star fountain pen
Leuchtturm1917 notebook and Lamy Al-Star fountain pen

I decided to give Bullet Journal a serious go for 2018 in my professional life. The reason is, it’s purposeful! Writing something down is a purposeful act. It’s also a reason to get some new toys–fountain pens. Maybe my handwriting will improve as a side-effect. But honestly, I do feel like purposeful things such as handwriting have been lost (or at least de-emphasized).


Back in 2008, I bought my first serious camera, a Canon 40D SLR. I also bought a number of lenses and accessories to go with it. I really did enjoy the hobby, but over time I did less and less of it. Why? A number of factors, but mainly it had stopped being fun and was more of a chore. I recently sold all of my old gear and slimmed down my kit. With my old kit, it felt like more of an ordeal taking it anywhere. Now with the new mirrorless systems, you really can travel light. I bought a Sony a6000 camera to re-engage this hobby.

Content Creation

It really is amazing how much high-quality content is available on the Internet. When we were building our deck, I remember wanting videos that showed how to do everything. The same goes for grilling and cooking. Most of this is created by people in their spare time or out of the goodness of their heart with a desire to share and give back to the community. I can only imagine how my university career would have been different in my field by having access to the wealth of information that we have today.


Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to take a look at what it is that you want to accomplish for 2018. I figure listing my goals here will help me be accountable. I’ll try and re-visit these periodically throughout the year. Please leave me some feedback below with your thoughts or questions!