This is the time of year many of us pause and take a moment to reflect on what happened over the past 12 months. Or, we start thinking about about the next 12 months ahead. Or both, if you’re a goodie-goodie like that.
This year marks my first complete year as an independent freelancer. I remember how scared I was one year ago. I only had a few months and a couple of clients under my belt and was afraid of what would happen if things didn’t work out. How was I going to find work? Could I make enough money to be sustainable? How is this going to impact my family? These were just a few of the questions I wrestled with going into 2014.
One way I decided to deal with my doubts and uncertainties was to do a better job of tracking my time. While I haven’t been perfect about it, I have logged 1,643 hours in my Harvest account for the year to date. That only translates to 32 hours per week over the course of the entire year, though I can’t think of any week that I actually worked less than 40. I suppose that’s what happens when vacation and bathroom breaks have been accounted for. Especially the bathroom breaks.
I also decided to set goals for the new year. I wanted to treat 2014 as a clean slate and a chance to create both stability and sanity. This is the page that was born as a result of that. (Working on the page also made for a nice blog post.) I used this as a space to track my progress on goals that pertained to both work and life.
Let’s see how I did on these goals now that we’re at the end of the year.
Publish 15 Blog Posts
Passed! I published a grand total of 18 posts this year. And, yes. That includes this very one.
You’re probably thinking that 15 posts is a rather unimpressive number. I can’t argue there. I believe in setting realistic goals rather than ones that set us up for failure and that 15 posts was low enough to accomplish but high enough to motivate and challenge me. I’ve blogged for many years but have never been consistently active, so setting this goal helped push me towards greater consistency. Mission accomplished.
Four New Clients
Passed! In fact, I exceeded that number. I set this goal as a way to push my natural introversion down and put myself out there. It was also a way for me to focus on the quality of my clients rather than the quantity. Keeping good clients is easier (and more fruitful) than constantly having to find new clients, and I was lucky to work with great people and teams this year that I know will keep me working on awesome and exciting projects beyond this year.
Passed! I do a lot of work for The Foursquare Church and redesigning their website is something I’ve been wanting to tackle for some time.
While we were unable to green light an overhaul to the entire site, we were able to touch on the homepage and the template for articles. We took a component-driven approach that makes the code so much more maintainable and easy to understand. This means that the Foursquare team now has a library of reusable layout patterns and components that provide the building blocks for developing new templates in the future.
Additionally, the design is Foursquare’s first foray into responsive design. The new pages are so much more accessible than they were before they used a separate mobile site. I couldn’t be much happier with the way things turned out.
Failed! I really wanted to start a meetup of front-end web developers in the Long Beach area but I never took the steps to make it happen. I do meet regularly with a few people one-on-one, but that’s far from the goal I set up of creating a community of designers and developers. I guess the introvert in me won this one out.
Resources and Tools
Passed! In addition to my business goals, I set out to develop a few ideas I had in my head:
- Animate.css: I love playing with CSS animations and am a fan of Dan Eden’s library of animations. However, I could never find a SCSS port of his library that really fit my needs, so I built one. It’s the first time I’ve really contributed a project like this to GitHub and I’m stoked that people have actually been using and contributing to make it better.
- Devigner Digest Newsletter: I read a lot of blogs, tweets, tutorials, and such on web design and development and thought I would share the best of what I read with others in an email newsletter. I was able to put Devigner Digest (get it, design and development?!?) together in just a couple of days, but still need to do a better job of actually sending it.
- Foundation WP: I use ZURB’s Foundation on a number of projects. I also use WordPress for most of my work. This was a handy starter template for new projects that I admittedly do not use anymore.
- GruntPress: This has been my successor to Foundation WP. I jumped on the Grunt wagon after reading the exceptional 24 Ways article about it, and decided to create a Grunt workflow that supported my ideal workflow for WordPress theme development. I’ve found this so useful for starting new projects.
I get half credit here. I had a goal of running 250 miles and blew it out of the water. I’m currently at 354 miles and hope for at least a few more by the end of the year. I also participated in my first 10K run, when I finished the Long Beach Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.
I also had a goal to learn two new songs on guitar. I did learn to play Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars” and it was tough. It sounds so simple, but go check it out. You may want to give me credit for two songs after you see the chords Smith uses.
I don’t know what’s in store for 2015. I do have a few things in mind but want to take the time to figure it out. I’m not sure if I’ll have the same goals, different ones, or any goals at all. I want 2015 to be the year I get more comfortable with my independence as a freelancer. I have so much more flexibility than ever but often find myself falling into ruts and routines that stifle that freedom. I imagine that’s what my goals will be based on for next year.
I’m so thankful to be doing this and to have the ability to write and reflect like this. Thanks for reading and being a part of the best year of my life so far. Here’s to 2015!