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Blog : 2023 In the Rearview

By Angie Herrera // December 31, 2023

Not that it matters, but I’m technically writing this on January 1, despite what the publish date reads. 🤷‍♀️

2023 was… I’m not sure. When I look back, it feels like it was a whirlwind of somewhat organized chaos and I’m just now catching my breath and regaining my equilibrium. Don’t misunderstand me—there were some good things that happened too. But I’d be lying if 2023 didn’t take even a little bit of a toll on my mental health in one way or another. Still, I made it through and I’m better for it, as are you, I’ve no doubt.

Projects, projects, projects

When it came to design and development projects, there were a lot. Mostly small and not super flashy, meaning much of the work I did was in development and tended to revolve on general maintenance or new features—nothing super exciting for anyone besides me and my clients (and possibly their clients/customers). There’s nothing wrong with this work of course—it’s still fulfilling and challenging and fun—but it does mean that my portfolio was left feeling a bit neglected and thin. I’m still trying to figure out how to make at least one or two of the less flashy projects interesting enough to add to the showcase.

I also noticed that there weren’t any big or even medium UI design projects. As a designer, that’s incredibly depressing. I’m both a designer and developer, but my first love is design. I think there may be a messaging or marketing issue at play, but that’s to be solved in 2024.

The Seventh Week Sabbatical Is…

Still awesome.

I first started experimenting and writing about The Seventh Week Sabbatical back in 2022. It’s worked out really well, but it needed tweaking. For various reasons, I had to scale it back. Rather than taking a week off every six to seven weeks, I’ve changed it to quarterly. It isn’t a huge change though. With true SWS I was taking between 7-8 weeks off, not counting national holidays. Sounds amazing, but what I found is that it was creating a bit too much pressure with deadlines and client services, both of which are a big deal when you’re in my line of work.

Going quarterly means I take 4 weeks off, plus that weird week at the end of the year right before Christmas through New Year’s Day, for a total of 5 weeks plus holidays and the occasional travel days. It’s not a small drop in time off, but I’m completely okay with this!

A few too many “Yeses”

I like to work. I love what I do and I often shoot myself in the foot by saying to “Yes” a bit more often than I should. While it’s worked out, it does sometimes cause additional stress and pressure that could’ve been avoided altogether. That happened several times in 2023. The good thing is that I noticed this and have bumper rails in place to help keep this to an absolute minimum, if not zero, in 2024.

Learning and growth

I’m a firm believer in continuous learning and growing and I definitely did that the past year. Some of it was practical and work-related, like simply getting better at development (I’m looking at you JavaScript). And some of it was more personal and mental or philosophical. A big part of this had to do with my frequent dives into introspection, journaling, and knowledge gathering. The funny part—to me, at least—is that much of that often started by simply trying to become more productive and efficient with various areas of my life. To keep a long story short, I had started 2023 with a new Bullet Journal, but for reasons I won’t get into in this blog post, I stopped in March. I picked it back up in August but in a different way that has stuck ever since. It’s not just for work notes and ideas anymore—it’s also for my random thoughts that have nothing to do with work. Putting the “journal” back in Bullet Journal, if you will.

The best part of 2023

Hands down the best part of 2023 was getting our puppy, Billie:

She’s been more than just a fun new family member. To say she’s my bestest of best friends would be an understatement—this Mini Poodle pup is my soul dog, if there is such a thing. She’s brought joy to our tiny family and has helped me cope with difficult things more than once, to say the very least. My heart smiles at the mere thought of her. ❤️

Looking forward

Remember the bit about my Bullet Journal a couple paragraphs back? I’m still doing that for 2024, and, dare I say, it’s a big reason that I am excited about what’s to come. Not the notebook itself exactly—rather what’s going to go in it and the little bit of planning I’ve already written down. I have a few ideas for new “things” (both work and personal) this year that I’m truly looking forward to, as well as breathing a bit more life to this blog and my YouTube channel.

Here’s to an awesome 2024!