I told my wife that this blog post was going to consist of one sentence: “2012: good riddance to bad rubbish”.
For posterity’s sake, I’ll spell it out a little more. The last half of 2012 has been particularly trying. I traveled too much and worked too much. I moved to a new apartment in a new borough. I had too many deadlines on top of each other. And my amazing wife has somehow been even busier than I’ve been, which has made ours a hectic home. So, while there’ve been some really wonderful parts of 2012 (especially watching my son turn from a baby into a toddler), I’m happy to bid it farewell – and good riddance.
In lieu of a roundup in the style of the last few years, here are a couple of thoughts I’d like to keep in mind during the upcoming year.
- Don’t get too comfortable professionally. In 2012, I fine-tuned my professional work to be more highly focused and purpose-driven. (See this post for some related thoughts and strategy.) This process has been a success by just about every metric: I’m making better money, and I’m doing work that has a broader impact. But I’ve got to be careful not to fall too deeply into the niche I’ve chosen. As I become more and more of an expert, I find myself supervising others rather than building myself; and when I do find myself building, it’s rarely something really new and interesting. Expertise is good for your career, but, almost by definition, being an expert means being bored more of the time. I’ve got to remind myself to keep doing new things, even if (or especially if) it means leaving my comfort zone.
- I can’t do everything. 2012 was the first year where I really felt that I was reaching the limit of how much work I can realistically do. Another side effect of expertise is that you start to think that you have an infinite capacity for taking on new projects, but the truth is that everything suffers if you allow yourself to be overextended. I’ve got to start saying no more often, and being more realistic when I schedule myself.
- Turn it off sometimes. My schedule in 2012 has lulled me into thinking that it’s OK to check my email all the time, or to work every evening, or to work every weekend. For me, these things are decidedly not OK, and I should start acting accordingly. If it means that I’ve got to start taking on fewer professional projects, so be it.
Here’s to a bright and sane 2013!
If you have a smart phone, get rid of it. Its impossible to unplug if you carry the Internet around in your pocket. I have an old school flip phone. I can get calls and texts, but no e-mail, twitter, etc.
Or get a smart phone and cancel the data plan 🙂
I fantasize about getting rid of my smart phone (or, more likely, doing what Ray suggests). I’d still have it for wifi use, and for doing stuff like reading feeds on the subway, but wouldn’t feel driven to use email, etc. Maybe 2013 will be the year I cut the non-cord 🙂
Boone, your three points resonated with me.
Point 1 – Getting put into a niche. As much as I love WordPress, I feel that I need to spread my wings and try out other CMSes, code with other languages and just get caught up in all the exciting things going around outside of WP.
Point 2 – Saying “No”. Still working on that.
Point 3 – Unplug. I don’t think I remember having a proper break in the last couple of years.
All of these points are on my New Year’s Resolution list, which I’ll probably end up breaking within the first couple of weeks!
The thing is I probably do a fraction of what you do and I’m feeling it.
Need to find that elusive balance!
Thanks for the thoughts, Ray! Glad to hear that I’m not the only one feeling it. I feel a little funny doing this kind of reflection in public, because in a sense I’m very, very lucky to have a niche – a market where my specific skills are in high demand from great clients. But, like you say, there’s lots of really fun things happening outside of my little bubble, and I don’t want to miss them!
yeah good stuff for sure great post! agree 100% with you and Ray and i’m probably less busy then both of you 😛
oh and one thing you can do is get a dumbphone and iPod touch much more of a pain to remain always connected with that setup while still benefitting from the benefits only problem is it means you have to have 2 phones/devices instead of one :/
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