My Year in Review - 2021

December 26, 2021 (3y ago)

With this year coming to an end and Christmas just recently gone, I felt it was time to take a look over my journey this year and share what I have learned along the way.

I started 2021 in a full-time job working 6 days a week, in a toxic and very controlling relationship that I wasn't sure how to escape, and ending the year going full-time on my own projects and escaping that relationship. This taught me so much and I wanted to bullet point these before I go into detail:

  • Use the tools you know, not the ones others pressure you into.
  • Don't feel the urge to make every micro optimisation.
  • Keep your mind focused, with clear goals, and don't give up.
  • Anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
  • Escape your comfort zone, ship fast, and refactor later.
  • Keeping a healthy positive mind is the goal to driving results.

I'm sure you're going to ask, explain..?

"When a workman knows the use of his tools, he can make a door as well as a window"

If this last year has taught me something major, it's that it is ok to use programming languages that you already have experience with. The sad reality of "Tech Twitter" is the constant barrage of new frameworks and languages with the added pressure to constantly use the latest and greatest.

I see each and every framework and programming language as a tool, in the end, they achieve the same result. An example of this is a workman, a door can be built using a selection of tools - but, they achieve the same thing in turn! If you have experience using something, go for it, if you believe that it's suited for the specific task that you're building.

An example of this would be with one of my chosen tools, PHP - a programming language more than 20 years old. I've heard more jokes about this than I can count - such as how there are more modern-day solutions. I chose this solely down to productivity, as I was often writing boilerplate code when using a Javascript solution - recreating what comes 'out-of-the-box' with Laravel.

If you're fluent with a programming language and wish to build a project - go for it! Don't let the pressure of others drive you into picking something because they told you - of course, go for it if you want to learn something new out of choice.

Focus on the project, not the code

As developers, I'm sure we can all relate that we often spend too much time on optimising and tidying code, and deviate away from our end goal - the product. I've been hugely guilty of spending too long trying to optimise code as much as possible, rather than building a solution and moving on to the next part of my app.

I used to have the mindset that optimising and cleaning code was the "must" as a developer, and while clean code certainly helps, it shouldn't be a priority for version 1 of your application. I was reading a blog post by Zach - an ex-engineer at Google who really changed my opinion and focus when building apps, I quote...

There are two kinds of programmers, generally speaking. There are programmers who care more about code, and there are programmers who care more about product. The former – I’ll call them “code-first” programmers – are obsessed with how code is architected, what tools, libraries and languages are used, how much test coverage there is – stuff like that.

After reading this I realised he was right, if I had to pick I'd much rather care about what my visitor sees - the product, rather than the code which is never shown in public view. By doing so, you can deliver faster, and refactor later if ever needed - but by that point, you've already released something rather than nothing.

Releasing projects that either have code or a UI that is "not to your standard" is also beneficial to launching quicker, and in turn, allows for focusing on these when the time is right - rather than delaying release because a chart isn't as nice as you want it to be.

A healthy mindset can achieve better

While there is certainly lots of positivity, there are often lots of negativity out there that can knock your confidence. When on Twitter and someone shares a project they've been working on, it takes seconds if not minutes to reply with some gratification to show your support.

As humans, we all like to hear good things, and it's never a better feeling than to work hard on something and be welcomed with warming messages in turn. That's not to say that we shouldn't provide feedback, because that certainly helps too! It all comes down to how it's worded and can be equally as beneficial if said in the correct tone.

What doesn't help are those looking to spread negativity, "oh but x does this", or "that's crap, nobody will use that". Comments like these are often due to jealousy and do nothing beneficial to either party, except - make the person who has worked hard feel like giving up.

It's often best to ignore this and keep your head high, I had lots of self-doubts when building my previous business (before selling it & quitting my job). However, setting your vision pushes you to reach targets and you'll look back at the progress you made.

I also use an app on my iPhone called "Motivation" that sends me a daily quote in the morning, and admittedly it has had a massive impact on my mindset - it may not work for everyone, but reading them certainly makes you want to achieve more.

Final Notes

If you haven't already, it's worthwhile spending some time and writing goals that you want to achieve for 2022. It provides a sense of accomplishment when each goal is met and helps a lot with motivation to push yourself.

For me, I'm aiming to focus on growing and building my main project in addition to improving my overall health.

Go forth, be strong and good luck next year! I'm super stoked to really go for it next year with everything I have planned.