Year End Review – 2015

2015 has gone by in just a blink of an eye. I realized that I haven’t been taking stock of my life for the past 27 years. So, I decided to do a year-end review for the first time to end 2015 completely, and the begin 2016 anew.

What went well

The first thing that went well was doing this review. I only realized I focused too much on the negative aspects of my life that I completely forgot about the amazing things that happened to me. I became so much happier once I remembered these amazing things and discovered how far I’ve grown since 2014.

Here’s a quick list of things I’ve done in 2015:

  • I got married
  • I completed a major consulting project
  • I updated Learning Susy.
  • I wrote the Mappy Breakpoints library
  • I volunteered for Devfest.Asia
  • I wrote Automating Your Workflow.
  • I gave a talk at CSSConf.Asia
  • I got to know more developers in Singapore
  • I taught people how to code

I’m unhappy about completing only 9 things this year. I know I could have done so much more, but I didn’t. I’ll talk about my unhappiness in the next section. For now, let’s talk about the good parts.

Even though I only did 9 things, each item in this list has contributed greatly to my personal development. I’m incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to do them.

First of all, I got married early this year, in February. Learning to live with my wife was challenging. I constantly found myself trying to change her into who I want her to be instead of accepting who she was, which resulted in large arguments and fights. I’m still learning how to accept her for who she is though. (This is the best thing that happened in 2015!)

Second, I completed and shipped the largest website I’ve built to date. This consulting project began in June 2014, and lasted till April 2015. I learned how to work with non-tech team members and became more patient along the way. I also learned how to deal with difficult clients (and how to deal with my displeasure).

I told myself not to consult for a while after the gig ended, and redirected my efforts at updating Learning Susy. I tried making new things like video tutorials and interviews with experts. I also tried increasing prices for Learning Susy. All in all, I’m glad I exposed myself to doing things that I’m scared of.

Once I’m done with Learning Susy, I began collecting information on what people would like to read on my blog, which eventually led to my second book – Automating Your Workflow. Creating Automating Your Workflow was the toughest period this year. I’ll talk more about it in the next section.

Moving on, I volunteered to help create the website for Devfest.Asia, the largest community festival organized for developers in South-east Asia. Through Devfest.Asia, I managed to (finally) meet more developers in Singapore through this gig. This shows how much of an introvert I am :)

I also spoke at CSSConf.Asia. This is the first conference I attended so far, and also the first conference I spoke at. CSSConf.Asia would always hold a place in my heart for granting me two firsts in my life.

Finally, I managed to publish a post on Smashing Magazine. This post meant a lot to me because I felt I wasn’t good enough to write for Smashing Magazine. It’s a crazy, irrational feeling because I know I’m good enough, and I already wrote for equally amazing sites like CSS-Tricks and Sitepoint! I’m glad I overcame this self-limiting belief.

On the same note, I got criticized heavily for the post I wrote for Smashing Magazine. Looking back, I love the fact that I got criticized. It gave me a chance to reflect and learn a lot more about myself.

What didn’t go so well

I don’t want to admit these, but there’s no use hiding them now. Here we go.

I’m unhappy about how I handled my low-income period between April and November. This was when I decided to stop freelancing to focus on updating Learning Susy and writing Automating Your Workflow.

My income levels dropped drastically since I stopped working on freelance projects. I didn’t have additional income other than from Learning Susy at this point. I felt I couldn’t afford to fail when I worked on Automating Your Workflow.

Money wasn’t the complete story. Since Learning Susy did well, I gave myself the additional pressure to create a product that would do equally well, or better.

These two mentalities crippled me. I tried to make Automating Your Workflow perfect. So perfect that I delayed my launch date. Twice.

I eventually launched Automating Your Workflow in November. Even then, it wasn’t perfect. Furthermore, it didn’t do as well as Learning Susy. So much for perfectionism and trying to control outcomes. Bummer :(

After I launched Automating Your Workflow, I realized that the amount of money the book earned didn’t matter a lot to me. What’s more important was how it helped people. I was happy, even though it didn’t do as well as Learning Susy did.

I also realized I didn’t have to worry about cash so much because I have already built up enough reserves to survive for a few months. Still, it would have been a better idea to get additional income while I worked on the book.

Second, I’m unhappy that I indulged in my weaknesses on many occasions. There were even times where I hoped miracles would happen if I waited. They didn’t, obviously.

One such example was an interaction with a logo designer I knew through a friend. We agreed to barter our services. She’ll create a logo for me while I’ll make her a website.

It never happened, even though I tortured myself for months trying to follow up with her to work on her website.

I didn’t want to admit this. Deep down inside, I was incredibly insecure of my logo design skills. I wanted to find someone capable enough to design the perfect logo. At the same time, I knew I didn’t have enough money to hire this awesome dude.

This weakness was the premise that made me hold on to the designer. I finally decided to let her go after trying to follow up for 3 months.

Third, I hate how ineffective I was. I wanted to do so much more. I wanted to…

  • Write one blog post per week. (I only wrote 22 this year)
  • Complete the redesign of my website
  • Create an application that allows you to download updated copies of my book without going through Gumroad.
  • Learn React + Flux
  • Write README and docs for libraries I’ve built
  • Get in shape and run a marathon

I never did any of these. I eventually realized I gave myself crap excuses for not completing these tasks. I could have done them if I was more disciplined, and if I had the courage to push through my fears.

Lessons I learned

  1. Act. Don’t wait for miracles to happen. Nothing you want will ever happen if you don’t take the initiative and work on it. Also, do the thing that scares you the most.
  2. Understand. Take stock of both your negative and positive feelings, as well as the cues your physical body is giving you. Dive deep into what these cues to find out how you actually work, then put them in action.
  3. Reflect. Figure out what made you fail to accomplish the tasks you’ve set out to do instead of beating yourself up. Are you succumbing to lame excuses or are you just impractical in your plans? Channel your energies into action and thought, which is more useful than blame.
  4. Discover. Always seek to uncover the truth. Open your eyes to what the world is like. Stop hiding behind your illusions and fantasies. The world doesn’t revolve according to your wishes.

The plan for 2016

I want to focus on the fundamentals for 2016 and resolve my ineffectiveness in 2015. This generally means getting things done.

To do so, I’ll need to work on my courage, discipline, focus and ability to prioritize. I’ll also have to understand how I work in order to get things done as efficiently as possible.

Here’s are the things I want to accomplish in 2016:

  • Work
    • Write 52 blog posts
    • Design and build 26 things
    • Build one Wordpress / HTML theme
    • Create 2 products / courses / books
    • Speak at 1 conference
    • Redesign my website
    • Build the app I mentioned above
  • Play
    • Learn to doodle. Aim to draw 10 illustrations.
    • Travel to at least 3 places
  • Relationships
    • Deepen relationship with parents, siblings and my wife.
    • Go to meetups at least once a month
    • Hang out more often with friends
  • Health and Fitness
    • Do 100 push ups in a single seating
    • Run a full marathon

That’s almost everything I got out (at least what I remembered) from this year. What’s yours? What would you do in 2016?

On to a powerful 2016 :)

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