2015: year in review

2015 marked the end of my first year of self-employment (I went freelance in November 2014). It’s been a fun and, at times, challenging journey so far.

My year in review is split into 3 parts:

What went well

Business was better than expected

Money was my biggest worry before going self-employed. I’ve been incredibly lucky that a lot of good work has come my way. Financially, I’m better off now than I was in full-time employment and that has certainly alleviated a lot of stress.

Worked on some great projects

Over the year, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several different teams on projects of various sizes. It’s been a real joy to work with smart and talented teams, solving interesting and difficult problems.

Working with modmore

It’s funny how things work out. I never expected to be doing paid content/marketing work, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with modmore. Mark, modmore’s CEA, was kind enough to send the team to Munich for MODXpo 2015 and that was one of the highlights of the year. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together next year.

Consumption

I consumed a lot of content this year. I read around 2-5 articles on Instapaper per day, read 25 books (and started a bunch more that I didn’t finish), and listened to hours and hours of really great podcasts. A couple of highlights: Anything You Want by Derek Sivers, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, and Jamie Foxx’s interview on The Tim Ferriss Show (although I could have linked to any number of interviews by Tim Ferriss – that has been a really outstanding resource this year). And of course, we got a great Star Wars film!

Newsletter

While I haven’t kept a really consistent schedule (I fell off the wagon towards the end of the year), I’m going to consider this a success. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Personal highlight: an unexpected email from Derek Sivers saying “just what I needed tonight” after reading this article.

Travel

It’s hard for Ju and I to do a lot of travelling with Ju in a full-time job so although we didn’t visit many places, I still put this in the ‘success’ category. We had a great start to the year with a trip to Mexico: sun, beautiful beaches, cocktails, and lots of reading. We also had a short break to Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities, where we ate some wonderful food and got to explore the city on foot. Personal highlight: eating at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow.

Detaching myself from work

My wife may disagree with me on this one but overall I feel like I’ve been able to switch off from work reasonably well. I don’t work most weekends. Occasionally I’ll be in the home office working late but that’s the exception, not the rule. It’s easy for me to work all the time, especially when I just need a laptop and an internet connection, so the fact I’ve not worked all the hours is a success in my mind.

What went badly

Writing

Although I’m calling my newsletter a success, I’ve not blogged or written as much as I’d like to.

Working from home

Out of all of things that went badly, this was the one I didn’t expect. I enjoy working in solitude so I thought working at home would be perfect. Turns out that I quickly became lonely, with no one to talk to other than the dog (Slack doesn’t count). Next year I plan to mix it up by spending half my time at home and half my time in a coffee shop or shared office.

Not attending local events

I’ve not really attended any local events all year. It’s something I need to make more of an effort with next year.

Health

I lost a little weight at the beginning of the year and then my weight plateaued. I signed up to a local squash club and played on a weekly basis which was good fun. But overall, I’d consider this a bad year for my overall health and something to work on next year.

Photography

For a couple of years now, I’ve not taken many photos. My camera gear is feeling old and I’m just not excited to use it. Again, something to fix next year.

Home improvements

Our home hasn’t had the time or attention it needs this year, partly because I was focused on my business. We managed to get the bathroom finished but that was about it. We also got plot of land at our local allotment but I haven’t spent nearly as much time as I’d like down there.

Goals for 2016

Grow business

My revenue goal is to grow my business by 15%. This should be attainable but I want to do that while being more selective with the clients that I work with. That will be the challenge. Charge more and do better work for a smaller group of clients.

Goal: Grow company revenue by 15%.

Writing

Next year I want to get back into regularly blogging. I want to get better at documenting and teaching the things I’m working on as I go. And of course, I want to keep writing for my newsletter.

Goal: A blog post per week and a newsletter every other week taking December off – a total of around 76 articles. No specific length required, they can be as short or as long as required.

Find a place to work away from home

Goal: Find somewhere away from home to work a couple of times a week.

Reading

In 2016, I want to read less. I want to read slower, make better notes, and really absorb the information rather than racing from one book to the next. I’d like to publish the notes I take, Sivers style. And I plan to read more fiction.

Goal: Read 12 non-fiction books and publish notes on this blog.

Mastermind group

In the closing stages of this year, I put together a small mastermind group consisting of 5 people so that we can share ideas and hold each other accountable. Next year, I hope to build this into a core part of my business.

Goal: Meet in-person with group, hold twice-monthly meetings.

Health

I want to lose around a stone to get to a more natural body weight. I’d also like to improve my fitness, play more squash, get out on my bike more, and do more walking.

Goal: Reach 11st (70kg) by the end of year.

Cooking

I was pleased this year to have cooked more than ever, which made sense working from home. I must have cooked over 100 meals but I’ve only made the same 10 or so dishes, rarely experimenting or trying something new. As a result, I really haven’t improved much. This year I’d like to get better at cooking, try some new dishes, and cook more for friends.

Goal: Cook at least 12 new dishes.

Photography

I want to get back into taking photos this year. The first step is to upgrade my camera (most likely to a Canon 760D), and then get back out taking photos.

Goal: Upload 52 photos to Flickr, approx 1 per week. (I’m super selective when it comes to uploading photos, so 1 upload is easily 50-100 shots).

House

The big house goal for this year is a new kitchen. I’d also like to spend more time on the house and get some of the smaller jobs out of the way.

Goal: Finish kitchen and hallway.


In summary: 2015 was a year of being more intentional about what I do with my life. 2016 is about getting even more intentional.

Wishing you and yours all the best for 2016.

— Marc

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