The year has ended and now we look ahead to 2019 with hope and fear. Hope that the new year brings us closer to ideal health, happy relationships, and growing wealth; fear that the uncertainty and drama of 2018 will metastasize. That the coming year will see our communities split further into the warring factions that you hear so much about on the news. The slew of history podcasts I listen to have illuminated one clear lesson from history: It can always get worse.
But it can get better too. Regardless, things will change. You will change this year. I believe that how you change is mostly your choice.
Personally, I’m setting the pace for 2019 with a slew of learning-by-doing projects. Projects focused on building and launching information projects (more on my thinking about information products here).
I have given up on trying to predict what’s going to happen in the near future politically, culturally, socially but am still playing the game when it comes to technology. There are some knowable things and good guesses we can make about what 2019 will feature. Here are a few sure bets:
- the size of databases will grow across the world;
- governments and companies will continue to leverage data;
- more people will be comfortable spending more for online services and products.
That data will grow and become more important for businesses and communities seems obvious to me. More data is being collected. That data is more varied and detailed now: advanced fitness trackers are hitting the market, people are bearing more of the souls to online forums, and more of themselves to image services.
The opportunity to scrape vast amounts of data is always there. And although public databases aren’t growing at exponential rates (that I know about), who knows, maybe there will be some public unveiling of data kept by a government that we’ll be able to access. In the meantime, Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram offer rich avenues for exploration.
Number three on the list, that people will become more comfortable paying for internet services, is mostly an extension of younger generations getting another year older and older generations — warier of the internet than those of us who grew up with it — moving on.
Enough with all of this preamble, here’s what I want to learn in 2019.
Technical things to learn
The technical theme for 2019 is data engineering. Scraping, pulling, condensing, analyzing, pipelining vast amounts of data. That is what I see myself doing this year mostly to build information products.
Information products demand data, lots of it.
If you plan on making things in 2019 that are worth anyone’s time you’ll need information.
Cloud computing with Amazon Web Services (AWS)
As data grows, cloud computing options start looking useful.
It controls more than half of the cloud market. Microsoft is a far distant second, according to this 2017 report. If you want to find a skill that will be useful for many employers in years to come, learn how to navigate, deploy, and monitor with AWS. It’ll hard to be unemployed for long with these skills.
Also, there’s a free tier.
The serverless application model (SAM) is particularly intriguing to me because of its flexibility. Learning SAM means diving into DynamoDB for NoSQL data storage, lambda for business logic, API gateway for serving up that data in useful ways, and Cloudwatch for monitoring everything.
I have a tenuous grasp on exactly what needs to be done to get this all working. Definitely, an avenue to explore in 2019.
Containerization (aka Docker)
For now, this is another way of saying dockerization. And I know very little about docker. I use it, sure, but do I know how to expertly build a container? No.
You use Docker when you want to keep everything your project runs on, all of its requirements, synced together in one system that can be replicated, shipped, and deployed nearly anywhere.
Docker is well-established now and I suspect will become just another part of learning development alongside CSS and HTML. Plus data-pipelining applications are being built on containers. This year’s Kubernetes conference highlighted practical data pipelining applications.
Data processing (mostly Spark)
I don’t consider myself a big data guru. I have yet to really need a virtual machine or sophisticated data pipelines to process data. It just hasn’t been that big. I plan on changing that this year and plan on processing it with Spark.
Machine learning (tensorflow or pytorch)
Machine learning is just now starting to produce the applications promised (threatened?) by those cheap-sci-fi classics we used to watch as children.
The field will continue to innovate. Applications will proliferate.
Deep learning has produced lifelike images of people who have never lived. Entrepreneurs have demonstrated how to replicate the human voice and beat grandmasters at ancient and complex games. Machine learning development, innovation, and wider use in business will continue throughout the next decade.
Again, the best way to learn is to do.
After gathering all this information and learning how to process it I plan on building some deep neural networks with either tensorflow or pytorch. Subscribe to the youtube channel or just come back here to find out what kinds of networks I’ll build.
Computer Aided Design (CAD)
Why learn CAD in the 21st century?
Because the economy is transforming. There’s more customization. There are more ways to build your own little business by building customized solutions. Creating a solution to a niche problem can make you a profitable business owner. Does a particular model coffee machine always spill the beans? Can you make a funnel that fits that model to ship to angry customers? Great, you have a business.
Plus it’s really cool.
Look at this drawing machine axidraw, how cool is that. You can send this machine images and it will *draw* them for you. But how about instead of buying it for yourself you *make* a drawing machine.
I’ve begun to realize the applications of CAD for business use go far beyond 3D printing knickknacks.
Non-technical things to learn
It’s great to learn technical skills, they’re valuable and they make you feel accomplished. But arguably they aren’t the greater component of accomplishment. What do I mean by that? Alongside knowing how to fix an engine you need to know how to show up on time, communicate with colleagues, and stick with your commitments until you’ve realized your goals.
Anyway here’s the short list of non-technical things I’d like to learn in 2019. Maybe you’d like to learn them too:
- How to form habits. Because you are what you do every day.
- How to manage projects. Maybe using the much-hailed kanban method, maybe using something else;
- How to negotiate. Yes, this means confronting conflict and staying cool under pressure. It also implies that you engage in some conflict, which I think is important to do every once-in-a-while;
- How to pay yourself first. Take that money you make and take your share before you pay anyone else.
Programming the mind
When we don’t think we fall back on our autopilot system.
If your autopilot includes laying stretched out on the couch after work with a drink then without the mental effort to overcome that routine you’ll fall back on it. You might have woken up intending hit the gym that evening but after a day of heavy stress at the office, the couch is too comfortable to resist. Willpower drains out of you during the day and is no basis for a system.
An autopilot that wants to run two miles because it’s used to running…an autopilot that wakes you up at 5:30AM to write a couple more paragraphs of the blog post because it’s conditioned to writing…that’s the autopilot I want to develop.
Form healthy habits. Program your mind.
I do this too often. You probably do too. It’s human.
It’s also preventing us from realizing long-term goals. I recently started yet another new project. This one I’m excited about, just like all the other ones I started and never finish. I’m hopeful this one is different because I can’t stop thinking about it.
Humans are social animals. That’s not my quote, that’s Aristotle.
We succeed in life through other people. We need to know how to talk to them to realize our own dreams. Whether selling a product or selling yourself, it will always be advantageous to be able to communicate with another human being and get your ideas across to another mind.
There are various themes under which you’ll find communication content: emotional intelligence, social skills, confidence building, charisma strengthening. They all come back to the same thing: persuasion. I like to think writing this blog helps me hone my skills of persuasion. I’m currently attempting to convince you of the benefits of effective communication. How’s it going? Not too well huh?
Like everything else I’m describing in this post communication can be learned. It’s a skill. A skill that improved by putting yourself in front of other people relating your experiences and evaluating the result.
Planning for your financial future
For years I consumed everything I earned. Once I had a paycheck I spent it. I spent money months in advance and racked up enough credit card debt to keep me up at night. The paychecks were all lined up in my mind months in advance and even though my debt worried me I focused on what I’d buy once I got that cash in my hands.
The final day of reckoning when I read Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant. You may not recognize that book but I bet you’ve heard of his better-known book: Rich Dad Poor Dad.
The quadrant is intended to show all the various means of creating wealth. It’s meant to contain all the ways that you (or anyone) can become wealthy.
There are many lessons to draw from the quadrant but a few that stuck with me: 1. wealth can be created in each of the quadrants but they each demand different skills; 2. you can start from any quadrant at any time; 3. you can move to any quadrant at any time; 4. most people are in the E quadrant and will remain in that quadrant their entire lives. There’a whole lot more to talk about with the cashflow quadrant and if you’re interested I recommend listening to the audio version.
Which quadrant are you in now? Which quadrant would you like to live in?
Anyway, now I spend my free time motivating myself with stories from /r/financialindependence. I’m a long ways from posting my own success story in that subreddit but am getting closer because I pay myself first and am building my way into a different cashflow quadrant.
Things I’m trying to unlearn
Every day we are performing the act of living. We learn while we do this. We learn how to be lazy and how to be rude. We learn how to cut corners and get by on minimal effort. These are some of the things I want to start unlearning in 2019. There are others.
How about unlearning how to judge people on first impressions. How about unlearning writing untestable code.
I’d like to unlearn giving up quickly and not putting everything I have into work and workouts.
Also, I think I’ve become too comfortable.
I’ve been listening to a lot of David Goggins and am taken with his philosophy of giving more than you think you have. Most people only give 40% of their energy. They quit before they’ve pushed themselves. Instead of giving up and giving in, how about staying in the fight a little longer. Pushing a bit more past what you think you’re capable of accomplishing. Think about every time you’ve pushed and really put your strength behind a goal. Have you always succeeded? Maybe. Maybe not. Have you succeeded more often than not? I hope so.
And so the same with this blog: Pushing a bit harder and staying on routine are what I’m trying to learn while unlearning all the things that get in the way of these goals.