Wrapping up 2021

It’s safe to say I completely failed at everything I set out in last year’s post, but after how this year has gone with [gestures wildly] everything, I’ll let myself off. I say failed but actually, some parts were a success in an odd sense, and with this, let’s get stuck into 2021’s review.

I’ve worked far too hard, again

I’m getting fed up of myself now. I aimed to work much less this year but I think I actually worked more…Partly, this was because a couple of projects that I just couldn’t say no to turned up, but also I’ve spread myself too thin in other places too.

Last year I set out to work 4 days a week by the end of this year. I didn’t get there, but what I did do is change my work-life balance for the better. I used to tap around on my laptop in the evening: either shitposting on Twitter, or messing around with design and code stuff, but now, we just chill out, watch TV and relax in the evening. Although I have worked way too hard, this has had a big positive impact on my mental health.

Cya later Piccalilli

I said last year that I would get into content full time this year and that did not happen. Here’s why:

To add some more detail to those points: I am rather pragmatic, British and admittedly, a bit grumpy. Lots of people fed-back that my approach and “vibe” was refreshing vs the ultra-positive—bordering on toxic positivity—vibe from other educators, but unfortunately, that doesn’t sell very well. This mixed with the stress of constantly monitoring revenue was just bollocks and I hated it.

I always felt like I needed to constantly pump out content too. You get lucky and write a banger that brings lots of eyes to your site every now and then, but because high traffic turns into course sales, I had to try and keep up with the momentum. This had a detrimental effect on my creativity and mixed with blasting out Learn CSS, I just stopped writing altogether. I only wrote my first technical post since then in November, for CSS-Tricks.

I’ll keep the articles on Piccalilli—I hate link rot—but consider that site a goner now. I’m done with it. I might write more stuff in the future, but not for a long while now.

A new agency looms

All of the above provides context for where I’m going—work-wise—in 2022. I’m setting up a new creative agency: Set Creative Studio which builds on what I’ve achieved as a freelancer over the last few years. I’ve done client services for the vast majority of my 13+ years in this industry, so it makes a lot of sense to do that.

I’ve worked for and worked with lots of crap agencies over these years too, so a big part of this venture is putting into practice what I’ve been preaching this whole time. It’s going to be a lot of effort (I’m not even going to attempt 4 days week this year lol), but I hope it will be satisfying work.

I’ve done a lot of design system related stuff for clients this year—which is what I’m known for and do pretty darn well—but really, I’m a proper creative, so this agency should hopefully help me—and a crack team of ridiculously talented freelancers produce some super creative—yet fully inclusive—websites.

More to come next year.


Right, it wouldn’t be an end of year review without some goals:

  1. Say no even more than I already do
  2. Block-book holidays and stick to them and stick to my schedule
  3. A strict ban on evening and weekend working
  4. Get down to 88kg (14 stone) in weight and maintain it
  5. Be happier with myself, this time next year
  6. Write at least 40 week notes

On those, I only took one week of holiday this year, which is frankly, obscene. No wonder I’m fucking knackered and burning out. I need to look after myself more as a priority, because if I don’t, I’ll end up in a bad place.

The last points are related to this too. I’m really pissed off with myself for overworking again. I’m also pissed off with myself for letting my weight slip too. To be happier with myself, I think I need to prioritise those aspects and if I do: the last point will be achieved.

I’ve also written some specific work resolutions.

Wrapping up

In summary, I’d give this year a solid 6 out of 10. There has been plenty of good, but the overworking gets very bad marks.

To my family and everyone who has been a good pal this year and supported me: thanks very much. I love you all very much.

I really hope you, dear reader, have a fantastic and healthy 2022. Surely things will start to get better.

Until then, take it easy 👋

👋 Hello, I’m Andy and I’ll help you build fast & visually stunning websites.

I’m the founder of Set Studio, a creative agency that specialises in building stunning websites that work for everyone. If you’ve got a project in mind, get in touch.

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