As the first week of 2021 wraps up, which was a doozy, I finally made some time to reflect on 2020.
Like many others, I started the year with a new planner and was getting stoked to make plans and crush 2020; little did any of us know, 2020 would be one for the history books. While I didn’t have survive on my goals list, it is one that I managed to accomplish.
Here is what I had for my goals for 2020:
- Focus on being the best developer I can be
- Become better at leading projects
- Be more confident in my abilities and decisions
- Ask for and get a raise
- Be in the moment, mentally more often
- Learn to judge myself less - for side projects, weight, etc
- Care less about what people outside of my circle think
- Focus on one thing at a time - deep work
- Build better habits around eating and working out
- Lose 20 pounds
- Spend a lot less, use YNAB for budgeting
- Get savings back up
- Increase investing money
- Launch new DVLPR brand/direction
- Stay focused on my vision for DVLPR
- 3X or more revenue
- Blog at least once a month
- Learn how to market a SaaS product
- Blog at least once a month
- Sign up at least 10 (on average) new customers per month
- Have at least 120 paying customers by EOY
Let’s see how each of these did.
Due to Covid, I was let go from a job I had for six years in April. I knew it was coming, and I wasn’t that bummed about it. The job got worse each year, I made much less than I should’ve been making, and the company was moving away from dev work. I then joined the millions of unemployed Americans collecting unemployment. Honestly, not a bad time to be laid off. The extra money from unemployment, plus some money I was making via a small contracting gig, kept my family afloat for the summer. I started studying AWS stuff and even scheduled a time to take the AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam (I never did end up taking it, but I learned a lot about AWS, which was great).
When I got let go, I tweeted about it and had many people reach out, which was great. One was a friend I hadn’t talked to in years. He said he was looking for someone with React experience. Fast forward to September, and I was able to join his team on a contract basis, which will hopefully roll into a full-time position shortly.
This one I did pretty well on. I have become better about being in the moment with my kiddo and wife. I spend a lot less time caring what random internet people think about me, and I feel like I have grown quite a bit in the last year mentally. I was also able to spend a lot of time with my family due to Covid, which was awesome. (Family time, not Covid). Our kiddo was home from daycare for much of the year, and my wife was able to work from home for a lot of it as well. In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to figure out how to manage both of us working with a one-year-old at home, but overall it was great. More time with each other got to make dinners together, and take mid-day family walks.
During the last five months of 2020, I dealt with a nasty bout of burnout. Between lots of AWS studying, applying for jobs, and working on three different side projects, it’s not surprising. Once I realized I was burning out, I took a step back and started to re-evaluate my priorities. I stopped working on one side project that might never see the light of day, and I decided to close down my Shopify app. I spent a lot less time on social media, listening to tech podcasts, and learning new things. I am finally starting to feel better and am interested in learning and coding outside of work again, but I now know what signs to look out for to avoid burnout in the future.
Well, this was the year I finally canceled my 24hour fitness membership. Something about a deadly virus and dirty gyms didn’t seem like a good idea. Instead, I binge ate Oreos while binge-watching Netflix. 🤷♂️
In December, I went for a checkup, mostly for a medication refill, and my doc told me to buy a blood pressure monitor for myself for Christmas, so that kind of sums up some things. Overall, while I didn’t lose the 20 pounds I wanted to, I did end up losing 8, which feels like a win through a pandemic.
I am eating much healthier due to my newly found high blood pressure, which has helped me lose some weight. Nicole has helped so much in this area by helping me make healthy dinners, look up recipes, etc. I am looking forward to getting back in shape this year.
Overall, I did pretty well in this area. While I gave up using YNAB after a few months, it shed some light on areas of our lives that could use improvement. Even though I was laid off, we managed to replenish our savings account to a stable emergency fund place, which feels good. It helped a lot that our kiddo was out of daycare all summer, which saved a lot on costs. This year I hope to be better at investing in our future and have plans for more significant purchases and projects that we would like to get done.
After having my shop closed for the first five months of 2020, I finally got my shit together and launched the new direction. I moved off of the free Shopify theme I was using and made a headless setup with Gatsby, which turned out nice. I moved away from using print on demand (POD) and instead supported local screen printers, carried inventory, and shipped products myself. I certainly did not 3x my revenue, and if anything, I did a lot less than 2019. You can read more about my year here.
ShopFeedback was a Shopify app I had been working on for way too long. I had the idea when I was looking for a feedback app and only found pricy options. So I made one. I officially launched in early 2020 and closed it up on Dec 31st. I learned a ton, both business-wise and code-wise, and don’t regret any of it. I am proud of myself for seeing a product through launching it. At its peak, it had almost 400 users, but only two paying customers. Between my lack of passion for NPS, my lack of SaaS marketing knowledge, and the amount of very low-quality customers on the Shopify App Store, it just wasn’t worth spending more time, money, and brain space on this project. I do hope to one day create another small SaaS product.
- Get hired into a full-time role (not a contractor)
- Work hard and be proud of the work I am producing
- Meditate consistently
- Write more
- Be more organized
- Lower my blood pressure
- Weigh less
- Take breaks when I feel burnout is about to happen
- 5x revenue
- Work on community building
- A much faster cadence of product releases
- Enjoy the journey
Welp, there it is, a little review of my 2020. Despite a deadly virus, the economy crashing down, and losing my job, it was a good year. It was a good time to reflect on what is important; my family is healthy, we have food on the table, and a roof over our heads.
Here’s to 2021.