Year End Review – 2016


2016 was a strange year. It was full of up and downs. On one hand, I had eye-opening experiences that taught me a lot about myself. On the other hand, I was horrified at the amount of time I wasted accomplishing nothing, so much that I ended the year loathing myself to the core.

But that’s enough. The new year is here. It’s time for me to recollect my experiences and regrets and move on. This article is a summary of my learnings in 2016 and my plans for 2017.

2016 in review

Let me begin with a list of accomplishments I completed in 2016:

  • Taught programming physically for a month at General Assembly Singapore
  • Published one article a week for approximately six months
  • Was interviewed on one podcast
  • Conducted interviews with several typography and design experts
  • Gave a talk at two virtual conferences (RWD Summit and Sass Summit)
  • Gave my first overseas conference talk (Fronteers)
  • Hosted at a conference for the first time (CSSConf.Asia)
  • Conducted a workshop (about responsive typography)
  • Built and released Typi
  • Built (freelance project)
  • Built a course platform (with React, Redux, Express and MongoDB)
  • Released a course (Mastering Responsive Typography)

I learned a huge amount through these experiences. They are:

  1. I enjoy teaching, but I don’t enjoy teaching everyone.
  2. Continue to learn, continue to write. Discovering new knowledge and sharing them keeps me happy. It’s also useful for you.
  3. Publish more, publish regularly. Sticking to a publishing forced me to release articles that I’m afraid of releasing. Surprisingly, my best articles and achievements also came from this period of tremendous self-doubt. So, I should release articles if I find them useful, because others may find them useful too.
  4. Make things for myself and for others in the way I want to make them, regardless of any criticisms. That’s how I stay happy and productive.
  5. Conserve my time and energy and direct them towards things important things. My time and energy are limited.
  6. Don’t procrastinate. Procrastinating causes me to delay completing things. It leads to having more work piled up, which eventually makes me feel it’s impossible to complete that thing. Then, I give up and beat myself up.
  7. It’s okay to be a human with likes and dislikes. It’s okay to disagree with others. It’s okay to have different viewpoints. It’s okay even if everyone else in the world disagrees with me.
  8. To achieve good communications, the first step is to completely understand another person’s perspectives

What comes next is a list of failures:

  • Articles rejected by places I want them to be published in (like Smashing Magazine, A List Apart, CSS Tricks, etc.)
  • Talk proposals rejected (or ignored)
  • Push back launch of Mastering Responsive Typography by several months
  • Withholding video content I’ve recorded
  • Falling short of goals I set last year
  • Super duper low efficiency

Of course, I gleaned useful lessons from my failures as well. They are:

  1. Rejection doesn’t necessarily mean my content sucks. It doesn’t mean what I’m doing is worthless. It doesn’t mean what I’m doing is harmful to people. People’s opinions are just different sometimes (most of the time actually). As long as my work helps someone, I have a strong reason to continue producing.
  2. Fear and feelings of inadequacy fuels procrastination, which further feeds fear and feelings of impossibility. The only way to break out of the vicious loop is to focus on the fact that my work is useful, and it helps. Then, get to work without worrying about the results.
  3. Remove drama from my work. I get affected too much by my incessant negative self-talk and wallow in my incompetence.
  4. Greed is not good (at least for me). I think too much about money, and as a result, think up products and add-ons to try and make more money. All of which I refuse to put out at the end because it doesn’t benefit you as much as I want my work to. This means lots of time and effort wasted in pseudo productive work.
  5. Year-end resolutions don’t work for me. I promise myself things I think I want, but ultimately proof to myself that I don’t really want them as time progresses.

With that, I can move on to the new year.

What’s next in 2017

2017 is a year of experimentation. It’s a year where I discard my notions of right and wrong, good and bad, what I think works and what doesn’t in pursuit of what really works.

This means I’m going to try a bunch of new things that I’m uncomfortable with. Some of these new things will affect only me. Others will affect you as well. I might fail spectacularly at some; or I might not.

I’ll conduct experiments on my personal efficiency, capabilities, learning speed, what I like, what I dislike, what recharges me, what encourages me and so on. (To be honest, experimenting is a less intimidating way of challenging myself since my self-worth isn’t at stake. I’m just trying things out and recording my observations)

That’s all I have to say to myself today. Next, let’s talk about how my experiments affect you (Thanks for reading through all my self-talk, btw. I appreciate it.)

What I intend to do for you in 2017

I intend to create new courses, services and free materials this year. The theme of the year for this blog is fundamentals.

I intend to write materials and build courses that help solidify your foundations as a frontend developer. Here, I’ll guide you past the murky intermediate waters where most budding developers give up. Once you’re done understanding the foundations, you’ll be able to pick anything up quickly. Sign up here for more details if you are interested in something like this.

Second, I’m building a roadmap for people who are unsure how to start learning web development, or have problems figuring out what to learn next. It also helps you grasp the landscape of the development world (which became ultra complicated over the years). Sign up here for more information if you are interested in something like this.

Third, I’m opening up 1-1 mentoring sessions since many of you asked. In these mentoring sessions, you can ask me anything you want and I’ll respond with as much details as I can. If you’re interested, head over here and I’ll share more details with you.

Finally, I’m conducting workshops and giving talks for companies that are interested in improving their team’s frontend development skills. Check this page for more information. If there’s something you like me to talk about in your company, feel free to send me an email and we’ll take it from there.

What are you up to?

Experimentation---that sums up what I’m doing for 2017. I’ll try many things out and hopefully find success in some. The four things I’m trying out for 2017 are:

  1. creating materials with a focus on fundamentals
  2. building a web development roadmap
  3. 1-1 mentoring sessions for frontend developers
  4. training and workshops

What about you? What do you have in store for 2017? What do goals you want to achieve? How can I help you achieve them? Let me know in the comments below. If you’re shy, you can also send me an email. I read every reply.

With that, have a great 2017!

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