Category Archives: Year In Review

2016 In Review

For the last couple of years, I’ve done a month by month review of the year. After seeing Remy Sharp’s post, I thought that was a better format, so I’m copying the idea. Given that a few months would just be summarised as ‘work’, it feels more appropriate.

Professional

My little company, Cross Stroke, turns 2 this year. I will do a more detailed post like this on the Cross Stroke blog (which I need to build) in May. But, some highlights of the year would be:

  • Started using OmniFocus to manage my tasks. After hearing ;a couple episode of Canvas by Federico Viticci and Fraser Speirs (part 1, and part 2), I was compelled to pay for what is – relatively speaking – an expensive todo app. I’m glad I did though, and I’d buy it again if I needed to.
  • Used a calendar to book in blocks of time and, for the most part, kept on schedule.
  • Started saving money for tax bills, so no late nights and rushed work when those bills come around.
  • Drastically improved my work ethic, and now treat it as a separate business, not an extension of me. It is a limited company, and I might run it, but it should be treated and thought of as a separate entity.

Personal

2016 was a bit of a blur for me. Most of my attention was on the business, but there were definitely some great highlights.

  • Hayley & I visited Disneyland Paris twice, making it a total of four times in two years. We’re saving the next Disney trip for our honeymoon in 2018.
  • Very recently, we passed a huge milestone in saving for a mortgage deposit. I’m not going to say what we have saved, but suffice to say we’re over the 5% required the sort of house we’re after.
  • I picked up the second Focus ST3 after Ford missed an option on the purchase sheet that I was paying for.
  • I drove around Wales for a couple days in May, and found out sleeping in the back of a Ford Focus isn’t the most comfortable, but doable. I also found out all of us having a CB radio is amazing. I wish I got more photos and some video of it, so there’ll have to be another trip for that!
  • I bought a top-spec 27″ 5K iMac, and it’s amazing. I’ve been a laptop guy since 2008, so it was a paradigm shift for me, but well worth it. Having one place I sit and work has helped me focus.
  • Hayley & I spent a couple days in Nottingham at a fancy hotel, to get away from our Mac’s for a while. It was lovely.
  • I drove over 1000 miles for 2 conferences in the North of England.
  • My sleeve tattoo had a little addition; a stag. I didn’t realise it was in vogue before we did it.
  • My neighbour (of 20 years) got married and we went to the wedding. it was set in a lovely little country house.

2017

I’ve written several times about planning big changes in how I live and approach things. Turns out, those homes and aspirations are just words. If I tackle one thing at a time and don’t give it much thought, I’m far more likely to succeed.
However, I do have a few things I’d like to do in 2017:

  • Try my hand at making a weekly video. I hope the pressure of trying to make it interesting will help me seek out a little more fun and variety in life. I suspect it’ll start out as a weekly vlog, with the occasional fun trip and adventure.
  • Keep making steady progress on my eating patterns.
  • Tying in with eating patterns, try to improve my working hours. When we do buy a house, working from 8pm to 2am isn’t something I want to force Hayley to live with.
  • Learn all I can about the process of buying a house, so when we do, I know all the options and processes, and am well prepared for the whole thing. That means the mortgage stuff, kitting the house out, and what running a limited company from home means.

2015 In Review

Like last year, this year has been good. And as ever, plenty of ups and downs.


January was a fairly quiet month.

February was also fairly quiet, except Hayley & I booked a trip to Disneyland Paris.

In March, I asked Hayley’s dad for his permission to propose, we went to Disney, and I proposed. it was lovely 🙂
I also left Ghost.

I spent all of April searching for my next venture, ultimately settling on going freelance again, with a forward-thinking view of starting an agency.

May was when I decided on a name for the company, and got everything legally sorted. Accountant, business bank, Companies House stuff, yada yada yada.

In June, I ordered my new car, my brother also got married – I was best man. It’s scary.

August was full of work for me, and burnout.

September saw me, Haley, and her parents fly to Nice for a week of cocktails and sun. I also picked up my new car hours after landing.

In October, Hayley & booked another trip to Disney.

In late November, we travelled to Disney again, but I drove this time. It’s cheaper, easier and more comfortable.

December, was just another normal month, aside form the couple weeks off at the end.

Other Improvements

It’s now been 17 months since I stopped smoking cigarettes, but I still vape daily. I did enjoy smoking, but I’ve lost the desire now. There’s no feeling of tabboo when someone offers me one on nights out. Through no effort, I’ve also seemingly convinced a few friends to try vaping too.

I bought some minoxidil a few months back, in an effort to help a bald patch on my chin. For a couple months, I saw no real changes, but that patch has a few dark hairs in it now, which is awesome! By the time I get through every bottle I have, I might have a non-patchy beard!

I got an Apple Watch in June, so that’s nice.

Learning to separate work and life more has been a huge benefit to me. Given I plan to work (i.e. code) 6 hours a day, it means my typically later starts to the day don’t eat into the evenings. That means my sleeping pattern can be what it wants to me, work gets done, and I have time for Hayley in the evenings – the way it should be. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped trying to wake up earlier though – i’d still like to start the days work at 6am and be done my the early afternoon.

And lastly, I have a much stronger sense of my finances. I now control how much I pay myself, when, and where that money goes once it’s mine and not the businesses. That in itself doesn’t change much, but it enabled me to plan a bit better. If business is good for a few months in a row (and continues to look good months ahead), I can give myself a little pay rise and pipe more money into our house savings. We’d like to buy a house in 2016, and we’re getting closer each day.


Of course there’s goals for 2016.

  • Start working earlier
  • Find another design agency client who use me for all their web dev work
  • Continue with the house savings
  • Grow that beard
  • Put on some more weight
  • Pipe-dream time: Put on a little muscle

2014 In Review

This year has been good – the best of my life so far. To round up the year, I want to list the ups (and downs), so I can look back at this in years to come and compare.


I spent a large majority January anxiously waiting for an interview with Ghost and kept on with freelance work. The ECU in my car also died, which was a much-unwanted ~£700 bill. A fairly quiet month.

In February, Hayley & I celebrated Valentines day by going to Brighton, which is where I got an email inviting me for an interview with Ghost! I also went to my first (and probably last?) hack day in Manchester, but I had to leave early, so barely did anything. A fairly quiet month otherwise.

March saw me finish up any freelance work I had and start a trial with Ghost. I later got the job! Hayley & I took a trip to Dover to walk along the cliffs. It’s funny how people who live near tourist attractions never go to them. This was another fairly quiet month, other than getting a life-changing job (for me).

In April, I just plodded along. Barely went anywhere.

May was ridiculously exciting! 4/5 of the Ghost team were all in Egypt at the same time for a week of drinking, planning and drinking. I spent the whole week in aww. A year prior I was feeling pretty down that I’d never have one of those jobs where the company values more than money. I remember saying to Hannah in the airport before flying home that I was still amazed by it all. I’d been an employee for less than 6 weeks and was on another continent with the team.

In June, I went down to Brighton for the Responsive Day Out mini-conference, thanks to Javier Usobiaga who could no longer make it and offered his ticket to me.

Hayley & I went down to Cornwall in July for a week. We visited all the things and got woken up every morning by the train line behind the cottage that wasn’t mentioned anywhere on the website we booked it on.

In August, I spoke at the first re:develop which was the first conference I’ve spoken at that I was properly prepared for. My talk seemed well received and had some useful feedback. It also resonated with many people, which was very nice to hear.

September flew by, with nothing of any significance happening. We did plan a trip to the Lake District though, just to get away.

In October we drove up to lake Windermere for a few days. Got cold, got bored, came home early. We terrible at holidays. Saw some beautiful sights though, and some amazing roads. I also gave a lighting talk at the first London Sass Meetup on how Ghost moved from Ruby Sass to Libsass.

November is when I started planning Christmas presents and plodded on with work. I also turned the ripe old age of 24. I also published my big post on How we do CSS at Ghost which has had quite a lot of traffic and started some interesting discussions.

In December, Hayley & I planned a trip to Disneyland Paris for March 2015. That’s going to be fun! I felt I also stepped over a learning curve with Ember.js – this framework has somewhat dominated my year, at least tech-wise.


There were things that happened this year that have taken months to do.

  • I finally gave up cigarettes and now exclusively use a vaporiser. It’s been over 5 months since my last cigarette. I still miss it, but using a vaporiser has its own perks.
  • I got my finances in order. Using the magic of spreadsheets, I have projections going to the end of 2016. I know exactly what comes in, and what goes out – down to the penny. If all goes well, Hayley & I will be suitably flush when we buy our own house.
  • Figured out a work-life balance. I work when Hayley does, which still gives me 5-6 days a week, including a slow day mid-week when Hayley isn’t working.
  • I’ve learnt so much about Ember, which is somewhat important considering Ghost’s front-end is built on it. Im still learning though.

Of course there’s goals for 2015.

  • Save money, and further reduce monthly outgoings
  • Get to a point with Ember where I can confidently merge Ember.js-related pull requests to Ghost
  • Start a simple side project which stretches my design & dev skills. It creating a passive income would be a bonus.
  • Write more.