What I learnt in 2014 🚀

And how hard it can be to do the great thing that’s staring you right in the face.

This year was a rollercoaster for me, full of learning and adventures. I started the year working as an Infrastructure Engineer at Xero, then moved into Marketing and Web Development at Hoist and now I find myself on my third job of the year as a journalist.

I learnt a lot about myself along the way. I never expected to move jobs even once in 2014, let alone twice.

Back in October 2013, I started getting up at 6AM to write for The Next Web every weekend alongside my full time job. I enjoyed my work as Infrastructure Engineer and later running Marketing at a startup, but I was addicted to getting up for that shift and writing (despite the ungodly hour, which says something).

It’s funny how hard it can be to be introspective, though, because even when The Next Web approached me to take on a full-time role in early 2014, I turned them down. Twice! I loved writing, but I was scared to go full time. I didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel like it would ever be real.

Even when Boris, TNW’s CEO approached me directly, asking me to join, I still turned him down saying that it wasn’t the right time. Looking back, I feel like I wasn’t thinking straight.

I was in this internal battle; the tech world glorifies being an engineer. It’s seemingly the most valuable thing you can do as a technical person, but I wasn’t in love with it. I love creating things, but I love creating my own things. It was the thing I ended up doing after university. It was just a job.

When I started working on Charged, my weekly tech newsletter, I started realizing how much I loved writing. It’s one of those things I can lose myself for hours in, without fail.

To start experimenting a little more, I picked up a few side jobs writing wherever I could. I dropped down a day at Hoist to work with Respondly on their company blog, wrote for The Next Web in the weekend and freelanced for Chaotic Moon with whatever moments I had left. It was insanity, but it was fun.

I must have complained a bit that I still didn’t have enough time to write, because someone told me that I should just shut up and join The Next Web, since I was spending every spare moment writing anyway.

Going exploring with Femke in the USA and Canada really helped give me some perspective on the world and clear my head. Traveling and getting offline, out of cities is good for the soul. Twitter is an incredibly powerful way to network with others, but the bubble it’s often in can cause you to forget that there’s so much more going on.

In October, I went back to Martin and told him I wanted to join the team if there was a space. Luckily, there still was. It took me a while to actually pull the trigger because I didn’t want to let anyone down, didn’t feel good enough to write full time and felt silly leaving my great startup job.

Sometimes you just have to do it. Nobody tells you that it’s OK to shift careers and to change your mind. Growing up, you’re told you have to know exactly what you want to do as an adult because that’s what you’ll end up doing.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Even when it was staring me right in the face. I was getting up at 6AM — willingly — every week to do something I loved and didn’t even realize it.

My hobby became my real job in 2014 and I’m so glad I jumped in the deep end. I’m humbled that The Next Web took this chance on me. It’s a blast doing this writing thing, covering some wild stories and interesting startups in the two short months since I’ve been there. I finally feel like I’m doing something I’m good at and thoroughly enjoy.

That tiny newsletter I started in June grew to 3,000 subscribers in six months, which I never expected. I’d gone into it expecting that it’d be a small time newsletter with a few people I know keeping up with tech, but it’s grew far bigger and faster than I anticipated. I can’t wait to take it further next year.

Finally getting around to taking up a serious gym membership and going regularly with a friend changed my life this year too. It’s amazing how great you feel after going to the gym for an hour a day; being active makes your outlook on life that much better. It’s not hard to be active, you just have to do it.

I also rediscovered my love of reading when I got a Kindle Paperwhite this year. I read the entire Harry Potter series for the first time (then watched the movies for the first time) and got lost in some great reading. I keep telling everyone I know to buy a Kindle; I can’t rave about it enough. I highly recommend:

  • The Passage by Justin Cronin
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Paper Towns by John Green
  • Station Eleven by Emily Mandel

In 2015, I want to take things to the next level. I want to help others more. I want to explore the world. I want to become the best writer I can be.

It’s incredibly easy to lose perspective and become comfortable with where you’re at, but I want to be pushing the envelope without stopping.

Let’s do this thing. 🚀

P.S — Today I learned it’s incredibly hard to write introspective pieces like this. Sorry if it reads a bit weird. Thanks to people like Femke, Devon, Alex, Ed and others who have been great sounding boards this year.

Also, here’s my favorite tracks of 2014:

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