2016 was a hell of a year.
I’m actually not sure where to start writing about it. So much happened, and so much has changed – not just for the world as a whole, but also in my small piece of it. It might be better to start at the end: the things I’m taking away from 2016.
First – I’m either braver, or stupider, than I thought. In May I flew abroad (alone) to attend a convention. In a hotel with thousands of people I knew basically nobody, and spent a week there all the same. It was at times incredibly stressful, but also an incredibly magical experience. It’s not often I take insane leaps like that, but in this case I think it was worth it.
I’ll probably not do that again for a few years. The expense was staggering, for one! I can, however, tick that off my bucket list, and maybe in 2017 constrain myself to the more local conventions of that type.
Second – I built something. In 2015 I switched departments at Acceleration, and headed up the creation of a practice area to do Business Intelligence implementations on Domo. Definitely the best 15 months-or-so of my career so far. A major uphill challenge on all fronts – creating processes, creating a team, travelling and training, and maintaining high customer service levels.
Quite a few midnight calls and early-morning-panic-hack sessions there, let me tell you!
It was challenging, but also by far the most rewarding thing I’ve done to date, career-wise. At the end of Q1 2016 the reins were officially handed over to a dedicated administrator for managing the day-to-day stuff – so I can honestly say that I’ve finished a major, year-plus project.
It wasn’t the best year though – there were some pretty big downsides. The clock struck midnight on my birthday with me sitting in an office tower in Melbourne, which I think officially marked the end of me doing outsourced development work. It just wasn’t worth the time anymore. Over the following months I wound things down and transferred my largest customer to a dev agency in Stellenbosch.
Turns out, it’s possible to push too hard, in too many directions at once, and it took a full-bore emotional breakdown to realize that. That led to several months of therapy to help me realign my priorities – a process that’s still not complete yet.
Overall, having come out of it more or less intact, I think 2016 was far more of a challenge year than a coasting year. It’ll likely take the rest of this year to process everything that happened in 2016.
So what of 2017? Going into the new year, there’s a few moving parts already. Acceleration joined the Wunderman group in September 2016, and we’ve yet to feel the full impact of that. In terms of my career in digital marketing, I’ve got a lot less clarity on where it’s going to go this year – but I do have a cautious optimism it’ll end up in a better place.
Then, personally, I’m only taking up two side projects this year. I mean, I’m telling myself that now, knowing that I’ll probably change my mind in about two weeks, but still – what are resolutions there for, if not to be ignored?
The first is to write every day. My long-term plan there is to be able to produce short stories, longer stories, and eventually novels – without suffering under my inner critic’s constant berating. I’ve built (and will maintain/extend/upgrade) a tool to help me do that: write500.net.
The second: Get into mobile app development. In some ways, I feel like I’ve left this for too long – I’m still, to this day, not capable of building even a basic Android or iOS app using the native tools. And mobile has already proven it’s going to eat the future, so part of me feels that we’re in the get-onboard-or-get-left-behind phase this year.
Luckily, the cross-platform technologies have really come a long way over the last few years, and between PhoneGap, Ionic and the underlying Cordova, I should be able to develop some basic competencies this year. The first thing I’m aiming to build there is a companion app for Write500.
So bring on 2017!