Another year has come to pass, and what a year it was. I'm sure it was not what we expected but we got it nonetheless. Just like last year, let's reflect on what 2020 brought me and what might be in store for me in 2021.
The second full year of blogging, I'm surprised I'm still keeping up and enjoying each and every post I put out. But it has not become easier: I have a very high bar when it comes to things I do and thus each post takes a lot more time than you'd expect...This will be my 20th post of 2020 (how poetic), averaging 1.66 posts per month. About the same as last year and I am still very happy about this, but not about the fact that I missed posting in January, February and October. I'd like one blog post per month, and I had to catch up in December with 6 posts. My blog felt the impact of my family life, my company and my adjusted community contributions.
My company Qubix, which I started in 2019, closed out its first financial year today. We can be proud of the results, even given the strange COVID-19 situations and working conditions we encountered. In March we lowered projections a bit, due to reasons beyond our control (and without even accounting for COVID-19), and we will normally end this year hitting that target or even doing a bit better.
I totally underestimated the pressure I'd feel in this new role. I'd been a team lead before, but I was never actually the main responsible for 6 people and their livelihood. Luckily I didn't need to carry the burden alone, I have a great business partner and support network. It was challenging: making sure we reeled in enough work so no one would sit idle (and thus cost money), making sure the work itself was interesting enough so everybody would like to do it, try to grow the business by hiring more people and then finding more work for them as well. That responsibility had an enormous impact on me and what I did this year, I worked more late nights than ever to deliver something on time, complete an assignment that got delayed because of other more pressing matters etc. It was not easy.
I got re-awarded Microsoft MVP in the Office Development category, it helped me even more come to terms with the fact that I do something useful. Imposter syndrome still jumps up now and than, and I still look up to other MVP's wondering in awe what I'm doing with the likes of them, but I am not overthinking it anymore as much as I did before. I do what I do and how much I do it, and I like doing it. Everything I blog, speak, share, code, tweet, etc. is from a sense of improving the community and nothing else. It's easier this way.
Speaking of community contributions (pun intended 😉), I decided last year to see if public speaking was something I'd enjoy and if there would be conference organizers that would have me on their stage. In January, I already had three conferences that were willing to give me a chance: SharePoint Saturday Warsaw, Commsverse and European Collaboration Summit. The pandemic took away my chances of actual being on their stage, but I'd like to thank them just for the thrill of being selected! No small conferences and I was very honoured to be part of their speaker selection, let's hope I get to be on their physical stage some day.
The special circumstances brought to us by COVID-19 also moved a lot of conferences online, and it gave me a lot more opportunities to deliver my sessions. Without this situation, I'd never have spoken at 14 events because it would have been impossible to combine with work and family to travel that much. I presented 6 unique sessions, in total 15 times, at those 14 conferences. Let's call this a success for the first year. Special thanks to Teamsfest (now Teams Nation) for being the first conference I got to speak at, ever.
At the beginning of the year, my wife and I got our "king's wish" (koningswens in Dutch, or souhait de roi in French) with the birth of our daughter after we already had a son. I could never have estimated the impact this would have on my life. One kid is a change but manageable, two kids completely took over my life for two months. Combine this with a global pandemic, always being at home and having the first kid at home too and you can imagine we had some very challenging times to find a new rhythm as a family.
Luckily she's too young to really understand, but she's almost one year old and she NEVER has known a world without this pandemic, without mouth-nose masks, without social distancing. We try to give her some extra hug love she has to miss from everyone else.
The circle of life completed this year too as we had another family loss, with the passing of my wife's grandfather. He suffered from old age and died peacefully. It doesn't make things less painful but he lived a full life and we can accept this much better. It happened when restrictions due to COVID-19 were a bit less severe, so at least she could attend the funeral which helped the grieving process too.
I wanted/hoped for more me-time this year. It sadly didn't happen as much as I would've liked. I didn't get to read as many books as I have on my reading list, I once again didn't do any sports (I averaged 4460 steps a day this year, not great) and I don't get to empty my mind as much as I need to to make good decisions.
I did watch an enormous amount of television series (it's my weak spot), I did get to enjoy some beautiful walks pushing the baby chariot through the woods and I took my first bath in this house yesterday for 1.5h (The upstairs bathroom has been a 2020 project).
We got spared of COVID-19 related troubles besides some minor inconveniences of lockdown, not able to go to playgrounds with the kid, not seeing friends and family, COVID-hair, etc. but no tragedies. All in all, no complaints about 2020.
I have everything I need: a healthy family, a successful professional career and side-projects, friends and family. Of course there are some goals for my company, but for the first time ever I didn't set any challenges for myself. I used to set them all the time: things to reach before becoming 30, salary to acquire by next year, new position to attain in the next 6 months. Not this year, not in these times: I only have hopes for 2021.
I hope that 2021 will bring me better balance in my life, balance between family, career and extracurricular activities. I will need to actively work on this, as nothing comes by itself.
I hope that 2021 will be the year we leave this pandemic behind, that it gives us a chance to recover and accept some of the good things it brought us as well. The understanding that work is not a place but a thing you do, has become clear for much more companies and I hope we can continue that way.
I'm sick of meeting virtually, following conferences online and the overall lack of social "warmth". I hope 2021 will bring us in-person interactions again with friends and family, and at events. I have a desperate need to travel, attend conferences physically and meet again some of the awesome people I got to know in the community.
Onwards to another year, with it's own challenges and joy. Happy 2021!