As has been my custom for the past nine years, I like to spend a bit of time at the end of the year reflecting on the year that has been, looking ahead to the year that is to come, and noting down these reflections for posterity.
This year was an unexciting but productive year in terms of my career. I basically worked full time on SpinupWP for Delicious Brains. We launched out of beta early in the year, built new features, and grew to help more than 1,000 customers host more than 7,400 sites across 1,400 servers. We surpassed our financial targets for the year and I'm very proud of the work we've done and what we've achieved. I'm looking forward to what's in store for SpinupWP in 2020.
We also did our 5th annual company retreat at WordCamp EU in Berlin which was a blast! Meeting up with the Delicious Brains team is always a great experience and I particularly enjoyed it this year as I had missed the last annual retreat in Jamaica.
One unexpected challenge I faced this year was having to work on one of my deeply ingrained character flaws. Ever since my school days, I've been the kind of person that works at a high rate completing work very quickly. I was the kid in school that was always first to finish my work. I remember sitting in exams waiting for the minimum time duration to pass before I could leave the exam hall. However, working at this speed comes at a cost. I often skipped the process of thoroughly testing and checking and simple mistakes would slip into my work.
This year I reached a stage in my career when this started to become a real issue. I would rush to complete a piece of work but I'd have to keep going back to correct obvious mistakes. So a big part of my mentality this year has been spent trying to slow down and be more thorough about checking my work before submitting it for review. As with most Software Engineering jobs, my mistakes can have a direct impact on a customer's experience, and even income, so it's important to make sure I get it right. Until now I'd been able to get away with an above-average standard of work but this year I was really pushed to improve and I'm all the better for it. It's a privilege to be part of a team that pushes each other to be better, no matter the level we're working at, and this is something I hope to continue improving on in 2020.
I also managed to get two new side projects out this year:
Both of these are SaaS apps, which is a bit of surprise as I had planned to be moving away from building SaaS apps. But I enjoyed building and launching them both and I have plans to continue developing them in 2020.
One unexpected highlight of this past year was getting invited to chat with Rob Hope's on his Yo! podcast. We spoke about nightmare NDA situations, the state of online privacy, Biffy Clyro and if all side-projects should be monetized, among other things. Rob is a great guy and I even managed to meet up with him while I was in Berlin which was an added bonus!
2019 was a busy year for us between family/friend weddings, my sister in law having their first baby in May and my brother having their first baby in July. But all of that paled in comparison to the arrival of our second child, Grace.
She arrived at the beginning of August and has been an amazing baby. It's funny how different the experience of having a second child is compared to the first. The biggest difference we've found is that we have nowhere near the same amount of time and attention to give her compared to what we gave Joshua at the same age. Having a 3-year-old demanding your attention while trying to feed/change/play with a baby is a challenge. But I wouldn't change it for the world. Grace has been a very settled baby, happy to fit into our, sometimes chaotic, lives and doesn't complain much at all. Her smile still melts my heart and at this point, that's pretty much all that matters to me.
Other highlights of the year included Joshua turning 3 and going to Nursery, drinking lots of coffee, playing my Nintendo Switch and Google Stadia, selling my BWM and our VW Golf and upgrading to a Tiguan R-Line. I also managed to get to a few more gigs this year including seeing Skippinsh at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow and Skerryvore in Inverness. We also managed a wee trip to see friends in Bristol in Feb and had a family holiday in Arran in the summer.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to do more drone photography this year. Also, I took up running again in the summer but it only lasted a few weeks before Grace was born and I didn't manage any more for the rest of the year. Something I hope to rectify in 2020! On the upside, I was deliberate about taking a holiday in October this year and managed to avoid my annual pre-Christmas burnout, which was nice.
Sadly, 2019 also brought with it some family bereavement when my Opa (dutch Grandfather) passed away in July. He was 94, wounded during the war, and had gone on to see 19 great-grandchildren! Then suddenly, about 6 weeks later my uncle who was in his sixties passed away without warning. We later discovered that there were probably underlying health issues, but this came as a proper shock to all of the family, especially my dad as it was the first of his siblings to pass away.
At the moment, 2020 is still a bit of an open book for us. We have plenty to look forward to including Joshua turning 4 and Grace turning 1, a family wedding in Ireland in the summer, the next Delicious Brains company retreat in Portugal in June, and a trip to the Netherlands for New Year. Outside of that, I'm just excited to see what 2020 might bring!
As always it is my prayer that in 2020 I will continue to walk closely with God and that he will continue to strengthen, encourage and grow me in spiritual maturity. I am so thankful to him for all he has given us this past year and pray that he will continue to equip us for whatever 2020 might bring.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2020 🎉🎆🎉