At the beginning of 2015, I set some goals for myself. While airing all this publicly felt a bit strange, the exercise provided a degree of accountability and prompted thoughtful contemplation about improving myself over the year. So, in that spirit, here we go again!

The 2015 Report Card

Before getting to 2016, let’s do a postmortem on 2015. Many of the goals were focused on improving my technical skills and business experience. Over the last few years, as I moved more into management roles, I found myself really missing design work. I wanted to reverse that course in 2015. The result? Based on my goals, it wasn’t pretty…



I totally didn’t launch this, so it can’t be anything but an F. However, I consciously decided to abandon this project. When planning the site, it became clear the target audience, other designers and developers, was simply not who I need to reach to increase my client base and freelancing skills. Soon after committing to this goal, I committed the unlaunched site to the dustbin.

DEarn a new computer


My current laptop has been chugging away since 2009, so a replacement is due. While I could have purchased a lower-end computer with my small freelance income, my current laptop continues to meet my needs. Instead, I used that income for a proper camera, which I’ve been wanting for years (you can see the results on Instagram). The goal was not met, but I’m satisfied with the compromise.

DLearn JavaScript, properly


While I made some progress with my JavaScript skills, particularly with vanilla JavaScript (e.g., no jQuery), I still have a long way to go. However, soon into the year it became clear this wasn’t a particularly good goal to begin with. What I want to do is earn money creating websites, which requires a broad set of skills, not deep knowledge in just one. Being singly focused on one technology wasn’t the right focus.



I earned my license. Finally. While I’m tempted to call this one an unqualified success, I’m still learning to drive our manual car on the hills of Seattle. It will take awhile before I can really call this one complete.

Overall, a pretty sad report card. Yet, I learned quite a lot in the past year (particularly what not to do), so I feel better about this than the grades suggest. Most importantly, I have a better understanding of what goals I need to get me on the path I want. Which brings us to 2016.

2016 Goals

I have the same overall objective as last year: Improve my skills as a designer and developer. A key addition, notably missing from 2015 goals, is improving my abilities as a small business owner. Also, rather than some abstract goal to “get better at X”, I’m focusing on actually launching things (side projects, blog posts, and so on).

1. Professional Development

Last year, I played around with freelancing. In 2016, it gets a bit more serious. Here’s how:

  • Formalize my business. This means registering an LLC, putting some marketing in place (simple professional website, business card, etc.), and doing more networking.
  • Get 10 paying clients. This is more about gaining experience working with a variety of customers and less about earning money (though that will be a nice side benefit).
  • Reinvest in my personal website, post at least twice a month. Currently this site is a muddle of topics, making it hard to target a niche and build an audience. This year I will revise the site to focus more on my design/dev work and start building a newsletter list.
  • Launch 6 side projects. Taking a project from conception to completion requires a diverse set of skills and a dedication to launching that I’ve often lacked on personal work. This goal will help me focus on projects small enough to launch in a couple months, give me a chance to try out new techniques and technologies, and add some new work to my portfolio.

2. Get deeper into WordPress

It’s become clear that I’m not going to become a full-stack designer and developer in my free time, so I need a solid technology foundation to build on. I’ve found WordPress fits the bill in many ways, from the awesome community, great documentation, and continued innovation. This will help me build backend skills (PHP), front-end expertise (particularly JavaScript through the new REST API) and of course design. My investment here will focus on three areas:

  • Get the Seattle WordPress developer meetup running. I just took over the group and want to get it humming with activity.
  • Launch 1 plugin to For the experience of it.
  • Launch 1 theme to Same as above.

I also have a number of personal goals (the usual: more exercise, improve finances), but I’ll spare you those. So that’s it! Onward through 2016…

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