Wrapping up 2019

Photo by Marisol Casben on Unsplash

Ahh, the last day of 2019. I wanted to take a moment to recap everything I did this year. I just want to reflect on my failures, achievements, and overall thoughts on what I plan on doing with my life in 2020.

2019 was the year I turned 30 years old. I had big goals for that milestone. The first was to have a million dollars and the second was to get under 200 pounds. Neither of them were realized. But not all things are negative. I managed to increase my net worth by almost 40k in 2019 and I managed to keep my weight at a consistent level without modifying my diet or working out.

The rest of the first half of 2019 was pretty uneventful. I attempted to sell my house in Missouri, but realized that I couldn’t sell my first home. I was lucky enough to find a friend that was looking for a place and now she’s living in it. In April, my career at work did change significantly.

I was given an opportunity to become an IFC manager for one of the most important programs on Global Hawk. While I don’t normally talk about work in public, I do want to share this. I’ve been working professionally since 2010. I started working at Boeing since the age of 21 and I was employed with them until 2016. Boeing moved me to St. Louis, they paid for my master’s, they paid for the birth of my second baby. The entire time I spent at Boeing was in IT and while the work was rewarding, I never really found something I loved doing. Fast forward to getting a job at Northrop Grumman in 2016 and I spent another 2 years in IT working there. Again, similar story, except this time I really hated my boss. . . or my boss hated me? Then, in late 2018, I met a gentleman in the hall that helped change my life.

In November 2018, I was given an opportunity to work as a Systems Engineer. Yes, I know this is a 2019 reflection, but need to give a little context so things make sense. I didn’t want to take that new job because for the first time in 8 years, I would be doing something outside of IT. I had a masters in Systems Engineering, but all that knowledge was just theory in my mind. I boldly took the leap and accepted the job working on foreign military sales for Global Hawk. The work was good and I enjoyed the change in scenery but something was still missing. Okay, now we are back to April 2019.

In April, my manager asks me if I can help out a program that needs someone that knows Jira and understands software. I said sure. . . the job was to be quarter time and would only be for 6 weeks as the person I would be filling in for was going on paternity leave. 30 seconds after I agreed, the job pivoted on me. I was being brought in to introduce Global Hawk to IFC management. At this point, I had no idea what IFC management was but here I was introducing it to a multi-million dollar program.

I’m not going to lie, the first 6 months were some of the toughest in my career. I had no idea what I was doing. My mentors were trying their best to guide me as they knew what IFC management was, but couldn’t share many details since it all came from a Top Secret program. So, here I am given extremely vague guidelines and very little help to figure it out. During those 6 months I challenged all the leadership at my company. I even got labeled as “resistive” because I wouldn’t comply with “best practices” that didn’t make sense to me. Nothing went right during those 6 months and there wasn’t a minute during those 6 months that I didn’t wish I could quit my job! Then, in the middle of September, my career took another change. The people that pioneered my job title were coming over to my program. At that moment, I had a fight or flight reaction in my mind. I decided to neither and instead decided it was time to drink the koolaid. Let me tell you, these last 4 months have been the best time of my life.

I’ve learned that I’m finally good at something. The job is super stressful and long hours are involved, but I’ve realized that I have a lot more potential now. While I was in IT, I did good work, but none of it had any impact. Now, in my current job, every minute is worth hundreds of dollars. I get to lay out strategies, roadmaps, and influence leadership on technical directions our program should take. I LOVE what I’m doing today but even with all of this, I can’t help to think that I should be doing something more.

This job has helped me realize that I’m good at something. I can bring value to a company and I can execute well. I’ve learned how to think through some of the most challenging obstacles. I’ve learned how to work with a variety of people with different backgrounds. I am ultimately the glue that keeps everyone together. But this newfound knowledge and potential has me thinking. Why am I doing this for someone else’s benefit? I work 12 hours a day and dream about my job yet I’ll most likely never make it to the top of this ladder. Hence why in 2020, my focus will be on my side hustle. You already read my 27 day journey and rest assured that in 2020, I’ll be realizing all of my goals this time around.

I’m going to give my side hustle all the energy I can muster and make sure that by the end of 2020, I’m financially independent and happy. Let’s see how this goes.




I’m an engineer working professionally in San Diego, CA. I’m trying to improve every day and use this space to document. Connect: apetech.me/social

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Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz

I’m an engineer working professionally in San Diego, CA. I’m trying to improve every day and use this space to document. Connect: apetech.me/social

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