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.
- 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!