2019 year in review

Published on January 11th, 2020

2019 started pretty ruff for me. I had no clients (which meant no source of income), not much money left in my bank account and I had to provide for the two. I struggled to gain new clients at the start of the year. The recent loss of my main client and him refusing to pay me for my work from last year combined with my struggle to acquire new clients lead me to question whether I have what it takes to run my own company. Luckily enough I had someone on my side who wasn't getting tired of telling me that I just need to keep trying - thanks to my love <3.

After the exagurating experience of last year, I did hope for 2019 to be better, but I didn't quite know what to expect from it. Looking back, I shouldn't have focussed so much on the drawbacks in my professional life, but rather on the accomplishments I could and would achieve which would transform my private life to a new level. Instead of focussing on what went well (family, fiance, friends, side projects), I focused only on a small portion - the business - in which I sucked pretty hard. As a consequence, I wasn't happy with myself or the situation at all. Though, I should have been satisfied at that time. I pride myself in being someone who values personal life's success much more than my professional career, but at that time I could not see anything other than my struggles with my business. Not being able to see the whole picture my motivation and my personal life got affected.

As freelancers, we pride ourselves with the successes we achieve, but this can lead to us identifying ourselves solely with our work. The downside of this is that failures at work will not only affect our relationships, but they will define our life and drain our satisfaction until there is none left. We have to be able to distance us from our work and look at our whole life from an 'outside work' perspective to accurately evaluate our whole life situation. I did need a little time before I was able to see the whole picture myself. When it finally happened I was not only more satisfied but also all work-related problems didn't look unsolvable anymore. Sometimes it's just a matter of changing the perspective and being patient - I am really bad at this.

After I gave things time to develop things got better than expected. In fact, for me, it turned out probably as one of the most exciting years in my life so far.

Business

At the start of the year, things looked very bad on the business side. I haven't had a single client in January. In February things started to get better and in April I had 3 new clients with long term projects. Because of my new clients, I got closer to my dream to travel more and did work remotely in Spain for over one month in May; Baltic Sea for a week and now I am writing this post from New Zealand where I will be staying for a total of 6 months. I do value quality time with my friends and family over my work, that is the very reason why I started my own business: To be more flexible with the location, to work less than the typical 9 to 5 and to use this newly gained time for my hobbies, friends and family. I am currently working even fewer hours ~ 15 per week and I am not planning to go over 25 hours when I am back home in Germany this June.

This year I will grow my business to two employees (+1). The added employee (from Spain) is also a step in the direction of being an international remote-first company, which is also one of the goals I've set for my business. This will be the second year for my business and I want it to be profitable again.

Personal

I don't want to go into much detail here but still want to share some accomplishments. I spent a lot of time with my family - especially with my niece (1-year-old now). I did start with running twice a week but dropped the habit two weeks before my wedding and didn't start afterwards again because of an illness. I hope I can get back on track in 2020. Another goal for 2019 was to finally start a blog and share some of my knowledge for laravel. Well, at least I did start the blog. I didn't write many articles and it took me too long to get started. I will try to increase my blog post rate to one post every month for 2020. Instead of trying to read more than in 2018, in 2019 I focused on taking the time to take notes and keep the things I read in my long term memory. In total, I read 12.5 books in 2019 and almost wrote a whole notebook full of notes. In 2020 I want to expand on this by writing some blog posts with the notes I took.

I got married on the 26th of October. I am not an extrovert so before the wedding took place I thought that the day itself would be a lot more stressful than it was. I had a great time with friends and family and it was probably the most enjoyable day of my entire life. After the wedding my wife and I flew to New Zealand where we a currently having our "kind-of-a-honeymoon" - 6 Months; I am working while we travel.

While I was planning for my wedding I managed to record my first music album with a good friend. My friend and I are proud of it and will release it probably in mid-2020 - he still has to mix/master the tracks, but so far they sound promising. I can't wait to show you the album!! When I am back in Germany I want to keep writing more music and keep getting better at playing the bass guitar.

Missed opportunities

Not everything went as planned in 2019. Here are some things I would have liked to get done but didn't.

Even though I started in January to built a habit tracking tool called Habitforce I didn't launch the product since I didn't use it as much as I think I would. After I stopped working on my habit tracker I started researching for a knowledge base tool. I still haven't found a tool which suits my needs but also didn't yet start to work on my product. Maybe in 2020, it's time to build a knowledge base that does not suck ;-).

I tried to keep a journal for several weeks this year, but it consumed so much time that I did stop writing after a while. Like the missed opportunity to write a journal I also tried to add meditation as a new habit but failed to practice it after a month. I did meditation at the same time as I was writing my journal - probably I did try too much at once!


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