On 2016

I’ve been quite hesitant when considering what I’m going to do in 2016 and what commitments I’m going to make to myself. If I think back to the huge range of resolutions I set for 2015, I think I managed only one of them. Thankfully, they are all contained in an Omnifocus document which I ditched along with that organisation system.

So, I have the chance to start with a clean slate, and think carefully about what I’m able to commit to before I write it down and berate myself every day for not making gigantic leaps and bounds of success. Instead of writing a list of resolutions here, I’ve committed to creating a [projects page](/projects) which will list the public things I’ve done. I have a couple of ideas already and I hope to keep adding to them.

If I’m honest with myself, my biggest challenge will be to achieve a balance between the day job and my side projects. I’ve determined that 2016 will be the year of the side project for me, but these projects will consist of anything I do that can be publicised and is not related to work. So, I won’t now have to set up a blog and then write hundreds of posts and work out how to monetise it – instead You Are Great will be an example; something I threw together in a weekend as more of a coding exercise than anything else, which had achieved absolutely no attraction at all, but is still something I wanted to do and managed to get off the ground.

This site is another example – I’ve moved away from the one click installation process of WordPress and its numerous updates, complexities, and vulnerabilities and instead implemented Jekyll to power this and future sites. Much nicer, simpler, with less noise and complication. It’s also a hell of a lot faster. I won’t proclaim that it’s really easy to set up, but it’s also not that complicated and for someone who has expressed an interest in coding, it’s a perfect exercise in tinkering.

So, 2016 for me will be about investment in myself, the year of the side projects, and balance between work and my own stuff. I also hope to write more than one post a year on here…

Little corner of the internet

I’ve found myself to be somewhat overwhelmed these days, with the expectations I set upon myself. When you read a lot of ‘successful blogger’ content online, that tends to happen a lot.

As usual, I can’t quote the reference, but it occurred to me this morning that all my goals are huge. I don’t set a target of making a blog that works a little bit – it has to ‘go big or never happen’. To my mind, all work has to be a massive success. That’s naturally followed by a lack of success, as the sheer amount of work required to make something that works on such a massive scale is not something that can be achieved overnight; nevertheless my inner success guru howls at me to make everything bigger, better, more thought through, more capable of addressing the inevitable change that will happen six months down the road.

That’s simply impossible to achieve.

I’m not just using that as an excuse to not be successful. I have managed to ship one or two little projects here and there – <a title=”You Are Great” href=”http://youaregreat.co.uk/”>You are great</a> was one weekend example, and this occasional blog is another – but both those projects put the lie to my own argument of needing to be big and successful. Neither is either.

But still, the next project… has to be bigger. Has to be capable of generating an income. Has to address a niche, build an audience, be a path to a subscription site or an e-book or something I can sell.

I don’t stop to consider the relative benefits of my little corner of the internet anymore. Instead of having a little homestead that I can come to, where I can sit quietly and post assorted musings on the world around me or my own struggles, there’s a part of me that always thinks I should be off building something bigger and better all the time.

I tried writing 500 words a day, and I did it for 255 days, a nice round eight bits of production. I stopped at 255 simply because I realised that the original goal had evaporated in the need to simply write every day, and what I was churning out was garbage. I wasn’t creating anymore, I was simply stamping out poor quality diary entries that I never read back, or acted upon; I moaned and howled into a private corner and walked away from it every day thinking that was a step in the right direction.

It wasn’t.

There’s a particular joy in crafting an object or a collection of writing or coming back to work and polishing it, honing it, working on it until it’s as good as it can be and then releasing it to the world as something that bears ones’ name as a badge of pride. I haven’t done that yet, but I want to.

All I need to do is silence the voice that tells me to always set my expectations that little bit higher than I started off with, because every time I turn to the work the target moves that extra step – and before I know it the goal is out of reach, and I’m glad I never started.

I want to build my little corner of the internet, and be proud of it. It can expand to accommodate the occasional visitor as they stop by, and maybe – just maybe – I’ll go out to the patch of land in front of it to think out loud about a new topic and find a group of friends there to welcome and encourage me.

But until then, I’ll write, and read back, polish and improve, and step by step make my homestead a little better. Step by step, not in leaps and bounds.