Well, as of this week, I've worked at Microsoft for a year. I've been a professional engineer for a year. It's been fun... fun, and hard. I guess I find out how "fun" it really was in a couple months when review time comes around.
Employees are required to write down their "commitments" for the next year. These can be modified as the situation changes, but ceteris paribus, a chunk of your review is determined by how well you met these goals. Not to go into too much detail, some of my commitments were to learn the team and the process and what it's like to be a developer, which I feel I've done. Others were simple, to build features that I have indeed built. One was to learn Managed C++, which was suggested to me by my manager but hasn't actually come up as being something useful, so I guess I should learn at least the basics over the coming weeks so I can check that one off too.
I had a few personal goals too. Despite not finding goals inherently motivating, I do still aspire to things like any other human. Some of them included:
Learning to cook. This one most certainly did not happen. I decided about half a year ago that this was a lost cause. I'm not nearly interested enough in this to waste time on it. I can follow recipes and instructions, and that's all I care about. It's not generally worth food preparation time when it's just me around. If I had a roommate, things would be different, but packaged and partially prepared foods like Hamburger Helper and dinner kits and the like are just too tasty and easy to prepare to make me want to spend more time creating something myself that probably wouldn't taste as good. Like any engineer, I do still occasionally enjoy experimenting, and I have put together an incredible cookie recipe and some tasty (if a bit weird) biscuits. But Bacon Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper? Tuna casserole? I think I've had one of those things every week that I've been out here, and I haven't gotten tired of them yet.
Meeting new friends that I don't directly work with. Well, I've met a few. Mostly they're people from Thursday board game night... basically just the subset of people there approximately thirty or older. Them, and Marc, with whom I estimate I've spent a good 15% of my waking hours playing Warcraft. Besides coworkers and board game people, I've really only become friends with one other person, a girl who has dated a couple guys on the FrontPage team and frequently hangs out with us on weekends. It would be hard to imagine what it would have been like out here without Marc and Kristen and Phil and Peter and Joe and Jim and Peter. Probably pretty boring.
So, I guess that goal was partially met... I kinda half-assed that one. I went to no lengths whatsoever to meet new people out of my daily routine, and I don't really feel bad about it. I don't know if I have a best friend out here yet. Where that probably breaks down is reciprocation... I don't think that someone can really count as your best friend if you're not also their best friend, or at least in their top few. In the past, I was always pretty sure, but out here, I don't think I'm anyone's candidate for best friend. That's too bad.
Managing my money at least moderately intelligently was another one. I guess I did okay there. I have a 401(k), I have some stock in a personal account, I haven't missed any bills, I have insurance, and I have a small cash reserve building. Buying the Segway was slightly practical but mostly just for my own entertainment, and it has served that purpose admirably. I've hired a financial advisor; whether or not that was actually an intelligent use of my $400 is still up in the air.
Meditating more on spiritual matters has been a more long-term goal. I've started to really think about what I believe about certain issues, but I'm far from done. This one's "in progress." I kind of expect to blog a lot more about this in the coming year, as I think things through.
Discovering a lot of new music and nurturing my musical side in general was another goal. I've definitely achieved this, growing my music collection significantly over the past year. This has been very pleasurable for me, and I'm sure that I'll continue to spend an insane amount of money this next year on music... perhaps a little less this time. Segwaying to and from work has put me in much more of a singing mood, which is good for me and probably bad for anyone else within earshot. I lost my first-soprano singing voice back around the time that I got hair in my special places. I spent $3,500 on speakers, which I suppose counts in this area.
Losing some weight and becoming healthier was another one. This one varies. I actually eat healthier than I have in a while; I probably manage my full allowance of fruit in a day, and at least get some vegetables in. (Why do vegetables have to suck so much? I like corn, potatoes, and waxy-fresh beans, and that's about it.) My weight has gone up since the beginning of the year... I've gone up 15-20 pounds since then, after losing some last year. My weight seems to always reflect how busy I am, increasing when I'm busy and decreasing when I'm relaxed. The funny (and annoying) thing is that ever since I started eating fruits and vegetables, my weight has been increasing; back when I never bothered with them, I was actually losing weight.
I wanted to go home for Thanksgiving. I did this, and it was a great time. I got to see my old friends from college, and most of my family. I also took some great photos.
And, finally, taking more photos. I've mostly failed on this one too. I've purchased a lot of camera equipment, and I think that I've increased my skill at both photography and at photo manipulation. But, I just haven't taken enough pictures. I really like photography; there just doesn't seem to be much to photograph around here. I just need to go out of my way to find interesting things to photograph, which means that I need weekends or to use some vacation time. I need to just go to more central Redmond and walk around and explore a bit. I enjoy photographing people the most, so maybe I'll just have to overcome my inherent shyness and ask people if they mind having their picture taken.
So, it looks like I mostly didn't meet my goals. And yet... I don't care, any more than I don't care that I've never been drunk or high, or been to half of the states in the US, or been to that many other countries, or seen that many of the classic movies, or dated, or had any kind of sex that involves another person in the same room. I've enjoyed the past year... quite a lot. There are a lot of interesting things left to do, and I don't mind that at all. I'm slowly moving forward, slowly trying new things, slowly figuring out who I am and what the world is, slowly building experience as an engineer. If these next 12 months turn out just like the last 12 months, I'd still consider them a success, goals or no goals.