So, I got a bit behind on weeknotes. But as some of my esteemed weeknotes-ers (and non weeknotes-ers) have published yearnotes for 2010, I thought I’d wrap things up by doing the same. And in the spirit of being behind, I’m publishing this 2010 wrapup (and look forward to the year ahead) in 2011.
Blimey. 2010 was quite a year.
I’ve not really done fantastically on the taking more pictures front. I’d need to check my Flickr stats: I reckon I’ve probably done better in 2010 than in previous years (thanks to my iPhone and the ease of uploading to Flickr) but definitely a ‘could do better’. I don’t know if I’d want to try and set myself the goal of a photo a day as I’d doubtless fail and then feel crap about it, but maybe a goal of a certain number of photos a week might be a good one to aim for. Anyway, ‘take more pictures’ still stands for 2011.
[ photo courtesy ]
Taking back control of my health. This was a biggy. I’d say this was probably the biggest of the year, and made for a lot of changes. The year started well, work was pretty quiet so I was going to the gym loads and not sitting too much, taking care of my back and taking less pain medication as a result. Then from about mid-Feb onwards it all got crazy busy again and the cycle started. Longer hours, more sitting on a broken bit of spine I’m not supposed to sit on for long periods of time, not going to the gym or physio or pilates or yoga or all the stuff I’m supposed to for better spinal health to help compensate for having had several vertebrae chopped out, more pain, more pain medication, generally feeling exhausted and utterly drained. By May, when I went away on a gruelling month of travelling round the world (5 countries in 4 continents in 3.5 weeks) running workshops for Coke, the pain and exhaustion came to a head and the wheels came off. Fainting due to low blood pressure because I was maxed out on pain medication was a wakeup call. I needed to make some changes. I couldn’t carry on like this. In trying to fight against the medical issues I wanted to pretend I didn’t have, I only made things worse.
So I made some changes. I’d been coming to the conclusion, somewhat independently of these goings-on, that it was time to move on from Naked – I’d had a phenomenal time there, working with some truly brilliant people, doing some fantastic work, but the time had come to move on. But whilst I’d assumed my next move would be another agency job, this wakeup call made me appraise things differently. I questioned what I wanted out of my work and my life.
I knew I wanted to be challenged and stimulated and creative and solve interesting problems and develop great strategic thinking to make awesome stuff. But I also wanted to get a better work/life balance and try to get my back condition more under control, so I was managing it, rather than it managing me.
[ photo courtesy ]
And lo, I went freelance. To use an analogy I’m quite fond of, instead of getting married again, I decided I wanted to date around, try out different people and places, rather than jump into another long-term relationship. To try out different stuff, broaden my experiences, learn new skills – and work more flexibly in doing so.
I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And huge credit must go to my incredible other half, who’s been my rock, always there, always supportive and I owe him a massive debt of gratitude for giving me the kick up the arse I absolutely needed to take the plunge and go for it. I’m so very glad I did. So thank you Simon, for helping me to open my eyes and realise what I really wanted, and for helping me to summon the courage to do it.
I’ve only been going 6 months but in that time I’ve worked with terrific agencies (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Profero) awesome studios (Rattle and Hypergame), and helped to launch a sustainability brand & service offering (Slow Home Studio). I’ve worked on a rich & rewarding variety of projects, been exposed to and worked with people with very different skillsets from whom I’ve been able to learn a tonne, and I very much hope to have started to make some good work.
When I set out on this freelance adventure, I did so with an open mind. I didn’t know if I’d try it for a few months or maybe even a few years, and ‘date around’ (to continue the very laboured analogy) until I worked out where I wanted to settle down again – or if this would be the way I worked from hereon in. I still don’t. But I do know that I’m thoroughly enjoying working freelance, and certainly I can’t see myself going permanent again any time in the foreseeable future – though who knows, that could of course change. All part of the adventure, right?
But it’s all got quite exciting. I’ve got some really awesome stuff coming together for 2011. Really diverse stuff I’d never have got the chance to do in one permanent job. Stuff where I’ll get to get excited and make things. I’ve set myself up as a company – so I now trade as Seemingly Unconnected Ltd. Which all seems terribly grown up. I’ve got branding and everything. Well, nearly. It’s just being finalised and will be getting rolled out pretty imminently, which I’m very chuffed about.
[ photo courtesy ]
And the rewards of going freelance haven’t just been work related. It’s had a huge impact on my health and the rest of my life. I broke my back and what’s left after surgery is buggered and the surgeons can’t fix it so the pain’s unlikely to ever go away but through better lifestyle choices I can learn to manage it better. And it really is better. Much better. I still have bad days but they’re a lot less frequent. And the bad days aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be. And I’ve able to manage my time to do all the stuff I’m supposed to do to look after my back -so my gym membership is finally getting used and my yoga’s coming on a treat.
Last year I posted this quote, from the School of Life’s How to Live Well in 2010:
Work to live, don’t live to work. Cleanthes, who was a Stoic philosopher and also known as the water-carrier, worked by night so that he could do philosophy by day. He was clear that he would work enough, and only enough, to support his real passion, the thinking and writing. His story is timely, for in a year that will be marked by more job insecurity and credit crises, it will be even easier to work so hard that you miss what you want.
I reckon that’s still pretty sage advice and something I want to work towards in 2011. Though I failed utterly miserably at this in the first half of 2010 – if anything, I went backwards – I made some really great strides forward from July onwards. Onwards and upwards for 2011, I hope.
[ photo courtesy ]
And the other stuff? I talked about wanting to do more of the stuff I wanted to do – whether that was fixing up our new house, going to interesting talks or visiting exhibitions. I made some progress on this in 2010, but I’m hoping to kick things up a gear in 2011 – but with the proviso that instead of trying to do everything, I try to be more selective and do the things I really want to do.
On the event front I’m really looking forward to The Story in Feb and SXSWi in Mar. And on the learning front, I’m really excited about signing up for an ‘Introduction to Product Design‘ evening course at Central St Martins – something totally new and different for me, and very much in the spirit of wanting to make more stuff. You have to bring felt tip pens and a craft knife and everything!
[ photo courtesy ]
Finally, for 2011, I definitely want to try and make more of an effort to listen to new music. It’s really quite shameful how little new music I listened to in 2010. I listen to the same old stuff, and I can’t even claim that I bought so few albums in 2010 because I was listening to everything on Spotify, because I wasn’t. Admittedly, I really got into podcasts (regular faves include Shift Run Stop, This American Life, TED talks, Savage Love, Guardian Tech Weekly, Desert Island Discs and In Our Time) so I’ve been listening to hardly any music full stop – but that which I did listen to was the same old stuff I’ve had for years. It’s not like I can’t find great recommendations for new music through Last.fm or Soundcloud or Spotify. I just need to actually listen to ‘em!
So, all in all, 2010 was a game of two halves. With the second half being a rather thrilling ride.
Here’s to 2011. Bring it on!