2012: Year in Review

"Oh what's that, the new year?"

“Oh what’s that, the new year?”

Yes, you know it, it’s time for that ever clicheed end of the year blog post/review/brain fart!

Well, I didn’t do one of these for 2011, and I was only setting goals with my end of 2010 post, so I thought it would be nice to start the tradition of looking back on the past year.

2012 was quite the tumultuous year for me: I left an awesome job with the smartest people I know to attempt to make a product, floundering with no direction and focus, and taking another serious swing at furthering my marketing career. On the flip side: I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been, I dipped my toes into the world of video game development, and I’ve created a solid plan for what the next year is going to look like.

The Good

While not numerous, the bright spots of 2012 were there, and they are long term changes that started this year and will continue to be a positive aspect of my life going forward.

In March, I decided to get back into shape. During university and the working years afterward, I let my physique and physical health slip a little too much. Sure, I was still a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court, but I was starting to feel pudgy and slow, and even worse: I was starting to feel a lot of joint pain.

I re-started my membership at the YMCA and made a commitment: go swimming every weekday morning, and get at least 30 minutes in the pool and continuously push myself to go farther, go faster, and be more efficient. While I didn’t end up going every weekday morning as promised, I went for 115 days and swam a total of 77.9km, which is significantly more than I imagined I could do. The swimming waned near the latter half of the year, but it was because I was rapidly shifting from weight loss over to strength gains, and was spending less and less time in the pool and much more in the weight room.

In addition to consistent time at the gym, I changed my diet. I made a few simple changes: switch from white rice to brown rice, eat equal parts rice and vegetables for every meal, and no more drinking except social situations, limiting myself to two (or four) drinks at the most. This switch accounted for a significant portion of my weight loss, I am sure, because I lost about 20 pounds over 8 months, and have been able to keep it off despite my many binge days of both food and alcohol.

Besides physical health, I also made a dream come true: I built a video game from (mostly) scratch. My buddy Wayne Sang and I built a game for GitHub’s Game Off 2012 competition, creating Octocat Attacks in a little over a month using an open source game library called Flixel and an open source pixel art app called Pixen. Our game isn’t anything revolutionary, but for two rather inexperienced game developers, it was a fantastic experience.

Lastly, it took a while, but I seem to finally have a plan in place for the future. I spent most of this year really soul searching, because it was extremely difficult for me to accept that I could take “just another job” and not take personal stock in what I worked on. I am still narrowing down exactly what I’d like to do, but at least there’s a coherent direction: I want to work for a product that I personally find interesting, building and testing marketing campaigns to drive users and conversions for a sound business model. It still sounds like a lot of junk coming out of my mouth, but I’m working on finding that perfect fit.

The Bad

I spent much of 2012 feeling rather disparaged, and I will be honest: waking up in the morning was tough.

I left The Working Group because I needed that focus on products. It always felt like our products didn’t get the love they deserved, and it was thoroughly affecting my work on said products, so I decided to cut my losses early and move on. I owe those guys everything for giving me a chance and really believing in me and pushing me to grow and become a better person, and so thank you to the partners at TWG and the rest of the team for being one of the best experiences I have ever had professionally.

With my departure from TWG, a very cynical side of me came out. I distanced myself from the community, from friendships I had forged over the years, and from companies and products that I long supported. I can’t really pin this cynicism on anything in particular, I just know that I withdrew into my shell, and I am sure it negatively affected me in ways that I can’t even fathom.

With this cynicism, I managed to lose focus. For a long time. I spent at least 6-7 months in a state of complete shell shock, for lack of a better term, not knowing what would come next and what I even wanted to do. It feels really funny to even write this down, because it feels silly, but it was what it was: I felt like complete shit because I had no idea what was going on. I felt like I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for an idea to strike or for a company to come calling, and fortunately, these feelings of sadness and melancholy sparked what came next: determination to succeed.

This determination is still in its growth stages, and has always been around, but has been beaten to a pulp with my attitude this (and previous) year.

I also can’t discount any of the friends and family that stuck by me, despite not having a thing going for me and being completely abysmal to be with for most of this year. To the true friends who let me be sad and did their best to cheer me up, who knocked sense into me when I needed it most, and who cheered me on regardless: thank you. A million times thank you.

The Ugly

Focus. Still not enough of it. Ever.

What’s next for 2013?

Well, to be honest, I don’t exactly know.

I have laid out a plan to get from where I am to where I want to be, but plans and situations change. It’s something I’ve come to accept.

One of the first things I’m focused on doing: finding a place in the professional world where I fit.

It’s been a really difficult and humbling month and a half of job searches, but I figure that the only place to go from here is up. We create success through failure, right?

Regardless, if you read this, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read what my year has been like, and I hope you take the time to share your own thoughts of the past year. It’s always interesting to look back at the past year and see what memories and feelings jump out at you immediately, versus what requires concentration to recall.

You’ll also note that this was very non-personal. I like to keep the personal stuff to myself and a select number of people, and I hope you understand my reluctance to overshare.

Finally, one thing I definitely need to change in 2013? Writing. I don’t do very much of it anymore. Never mind photography and videography, so 2013 is going to be the year of content.

Happy New Year, friends and family, here’s to you and yours.