Annual review 2023 - 6) Personal growth

This post is part of my annual review process for 2023. This year, I’ve committing to writing a more comprehensive review, but to do so I’ve structured myself into particular areas that I think are important to cover.

To read more,

  1. Intro
  2. Best of and memories
  3. Career
  4. Relationships
  5. Health
  6. Personal growth

Personal Growth

Personal growth felt like it took a bit of a bit in 2023. I’m not entirely sure if it entirely declined so much as just stagnated.

I didn’t have the parental leave of 2022, nor did I have much in the way of personal milestones. On the work front, I mostly just bounced between two large, and ongoing, projects. On the fitness front, there was nothing so much new as just continuation of what I’ve already been doing and marginal gains.

At the start of 2023, coming off the back of 2022 the objective was to really reduce my priorities down to only what was essential.

In almost approximate order, the priorities were:

  1. Be a good dad
  2. Don’t mess up at work
  3. Continue exercise
  4. Stay married.

Or more succinctly, dad, boss, exercise, husband.

That didn’t actually leave much time for anything else.


In my annual performance review, I essentially received a “good start” / “rough around the edges” response. As a result, I’ve worked upon turning my usual brazen approach into something more akin to a tool. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still far from a surgical instrument, but I feel that there has been clear improvement.

I’ve been a lot more careful with confidentiality and not naming names. Or in fact skipping implications and relying upon hypotheticals a lot more.

In my prior years, in retrospect, I was probably using my gossip network as a flex to try and show off how much I knew. I think I’m developing more of a taste for the subtlety in nudges.

I feel this year, I’ve had my first glorious moments of inception, where I’ve planted a seed in someone’s head only for them to come back to me sometime later thinking that they’ve had some form of breakthrough.

Previously, I would’ve found this frustrating that a bake-in period was required, and of course there’s little glory to be had when it’s not overtly your doing. But the buy in from someone when they are presenting you their idea is unconscionably stronger.

Maybe this just reflects an evolution on my thinking too. Perhaps before I’ve been too easy to assume that those in power are idiots and unless you’re slamming wins in their face, then they are not going to notice. However, I’m evolving my thinking such that perhaps my track record is worth more. If everything I touch turns to gold. If nothing around me is drama. If those that I work with are always happy, then perhaps my reputation speaks for itself.

Increasingly, I’ve noted in one or two venues well respected people in the organization have told third parties to “go talk to Morgan, that’s the sort of thing he’s good at”.


As has become somewhat of a tradition, in September the parents in law arrived on their latest Canadian pilgrimage, with a view to staying some 4 months or so. However, this time around, due to previous burning of bridges and logistical timing, there was not going to be a way for them to have their own place nearby. Instead, they would be staying with us indefinitely.

Until very recently this would be nothing short of a living nightmare, but I have been pleasantly surprised by it all. Not that there aren’t moments of frustration.

It’s annoying to have the dinner table in a foreign language. It’s annoying that as time goes by, they increasingly become too comfortable, reverting back to cultural stereotypes or the individuals they were 20 years ago with all of the shouting that entails.

However, I’m more stoic about it all. I don’t get as angry about it as I could. As perhaps I should. I realize that some people just don’t want to change. I set my expectations on the floor and therefore I’m rarely disappointed.

I think it’s actually been made easier with them not having their own apartment to escape to as I don’t have the frustration associated with “why are you here?” all the time. This is just where they live.

I even advocated with the wife that we should just acknowledge that I don’t have an office and we should set up the room as an actual guest room, with a bed and the like instead of a fold-out couch. We got as far as getting to Ikea before realizing that if it’s going to be a room for them, maybe they should be the ones picking the mattress.

It’s a small shift, but I’ve accepted that they will be with us for 6 months every year until one of them dies. And depending upon which one it is, means that we might suddenly have a permanent live-in guest.


I’ve written pretty extensively across the year about the fallout of Bill 96 and the continued franconization of Quebec and specifically Montreal. Whether the results are real or imagined, it has served to make me feel decidedly second-class in my country and workplace.

For a while, my inherent stubbornness kicked in resisting anything that was being imposed upon me. But the pious righteousness could only be maintained for so long. As fall lingered on and the work front quieted down somewhat, the excuses grew tired and the realization was that there was one obvious way to solve my malcontent. Shut up and learn French.

Taking it seriously this time and pushing through the discomfort of speaking a new language and taking some real courses with some human beings.

From the time that we knew that we were coming to Montreal and through lockdown I racked up a 750 day Duolingo streak, which allowed me a reasonable vocabulary and an ability to read improbable sentences but little else.

In November, I signed up with Babbel and begin taking online group classes at a frequency of around 5 hours per week. The acceleration was palpable and I quickly achieved my A2 certificate - meaning that I’m officially no longer a beginner but an intermediate.

Unfortunately, a lot of that good work has fallen apart over the Xmas break and New Year’s. But it needs to restart soon.