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Each year I like to write a review and see if I met the aims I set myself the previous year. It’s always funny reading back on my previous posts and these reviews are no exception.

Twenty Sixteen has been a significant year for me, perhaps the biggest year of my life. Cycling across America and buying a house are important things. But more importantly I feel a completely different person to last year, my outlook on life has changed somewhat and I think it’s the most content I’ve ever been in over a decade of adulthood.

This is the first year in perhaps six or more years where I haven’t totally obsessed over web stuff. I’ve still done a fair amount of studying and tinkering, but cycling came into my life and it felt good to have another hobby, especially one that made me feel more alive.

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Besides riding my bike, I spent a large amount of my time marketing Ride For The Child, hundreds of hours went into raising as much money and awareness as possible. My highlight is probably writing an article that was featured in The Guardian. Or perhaps appearing on BBC’s See Hear, their fifth longest running television programme. I wrote over 60 blog posts and spent a huge amount of time exploring various marketing avenues, many of which were fruitless but offered some great learning experience (I thoroughly enjoyed marketing the ride and I wouldn’t rule it out as a future profession). However, nothing comes close to the £13,500 that I raised for children with deafness or cancer.

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With all my ride stuff going on I didn’t get to do as much work related stuff as I wanted, however I did re-design my website and make an app with Vue.js, a popular JS framework. This is something I had wanted to do for a while and I’m sure this will help me in my efforts get to grips with React and Angular, two things I’m on with now.
I tried my best to update Worthy Of Note, a resource website that I’ve been running for almost 6 years since university. It now has 1800 resources on it and I’m glad I’ve kept it going as it’s definitely been one of the biggest contributors to my work progression. I still want/need to know more JavaScript, I’ve been saying this for 2/3 years now and while I’ve definitely improved, I do find it quite difficult. In addition to my brain feeling like it’s reaching its JavaScript limits, there seems to be a huge amount of new stuff/opinions/frameworks/procedures entering the industry each week so it can often feel overwhelming. However I just need to stop moaning and get on with it.

“Throughout the year my confidence grew to levels never reached before, pushing boundaries I never knew existed and coming through many mental battles unscathed”

This year has been a huge eyeopener for me, I’ve done things doing things that I wouldn’t have thought possible. Not just the physical demands of cycling America, but I also impressed myself with my mentality and determination to achieve my goals. Throughout the year my confidence grew to levels never reached before, I pushed boundaries I never knew existed and came through many mental battles unscathed.
The downside to this is that I can be incredibly hard on myself, putting myself down far more than I should. Throughout my training I read various autobiographies of endurance sportspeople and, while I’m obviously nowhere near their level, I could relate to many of the mental battles they speak of. For example, after my ride I should have been on cloud 9 but I felt a strange niggle that I could have done more, gone faster, climbed harder or raised more money. I recently started running and while most people would be proud of their distances and times, I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough. The same applies to my work and studying, it’s a voice in my head saying… “you’ve done alright, but you can do more”.
It’s a baffling outlook, but it’s one that has become increasingly common the more I worked at something. On one hand it’s great as I’m quite driven, but on the other hand I think I’m often too hard on myself when there are more important things to worry about.

“I feel so much more alive”

Last Christmas I was in training for a 3000 mile bike ride and this year is no different with me now in training to be an Ironman. I said I wouldn’t embark upon another endurance event, but the pull of another tough physical challenge in my life was just too much. I also felt so much less alive – or more bored – when I wasn’t training 5/6 days a week, strangely I’ve grown to love it. In addition, it’s also great to have found another hobby that I love besides web stuff. I distribute my time a lot better and I’m far fitter – and healthier – and than I’ve ever been. I’m honestly not exaggerating when I say I feel so much more alive. If you don’t already, I would highly recommend trying a new hobby that involves exercise.
Without sounding too much like a preacher, one point I do want to make is that throughout my training people made comments to me all the time such as… “I could never do that”. I said the same to myself initially, but I promise that you can achieve the goals you set yourself, it just requires a bit of effort, determination and – most importantly – belief.

This year I’ve had some very memorable experiences surrounded and inspired by great people. These memories will last forever and will be incredibly hard to beat, it truly was a once in a lifetime thing.
Turning 30 was quite a weird feeling, I do feel a bit more pressure to be adult-like. I’ve just purchased my first house, hopefully I will have the keys before February (lets not get started on how slow this industry is). I really enjoy getting up for work each morning and I’m lucky to have a career that I really enjoy. It’s been a great year and my lucky number is 17, so perhaps this year could be even better!

Here are some goals I would like to achieve in 2017:

  • Complete Ironman in June (2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, 26 run), no time limit just under 17 hours (cut off point) is fine
  • Focus on improving my speed at cycling, it would be nice to maintain a 18mph average easily
  • Pay my Dad the £4k or so I owe him. This would leave me debt free, for the first time in my life
  • Draw an icon a week, or at least one a fortnight, as I want to improve my illustration skills
  • Learn more JS, especially highly desired industry skills such as React and Angular, I’ve a few side project ideas for this. I’m also keen to improve my JS SVG animation knowledge
  • Finally, although I don’t drink much these days, I’m still partial to a cheeky cig or ten when I have a pint. It would be nice to stop this.

Also found this cool info-graphic….

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Worthy of Note

Worthy of Note is a site aimed at Web Designers & Developers. It offers a wide range of resources to help assist anyone in the web industry.

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