The Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022
nipafx news #92 — 31st of December 2021
let me be frank with you, I’m sick of my yearly reviews. At least right now. It’s always the same “these were my plans and goals for the year, I didn’t quite achieve them and felt bad about that, but the overall outcome was still ok-ish, bla bla bla”. It’s a seemingly neverending cycle of hope, reality, partial success with an (un?)healthy does of disappointment, and back to hope. I don’t think I’ll ever break out of it and stop feeding that particular monkey (it just seems to be who I am), but maybe I can at least put him on a diet.
So instead of spending three thousand words going over the last year with a fine comb and another thousand putting down plans for the next, I’ll stick to the absolute basics on that. Although there’s one thought on all of this that I want to explore a bit. But first, the aforementioned basics.
I send this newsletter out some Sundays. Or other days. Sometimes not for weeks. But as an actual email. So, subscribe!
2021 in numbers
I ended last year’s review with a short “2020 in numbers” section and I think that’s about the level of detail that I’m interested in right now. It’s also nice to keep building that record for future comparisons.
- posts published: 8; +60%
- unique page views: 161,596; -53% (this is atrocious!)
- from Google: ~88,000; -67% (see above)
- from Twitter: ~8,500; +220%
- issues: 10; +43%
- new / total subscribers: 131; -37% / 1085
- videos uploaded: 9; +350%
- shorts uploaded: 6
- hours watched: ~3,200; +650%
- new / total subscribers: ~750; +250% / ~3,230
- videos uploaded: 14
- hours watched: ~3150
- hours streamed: 245h; -28%
- hours watched: 2752h; -44%
- average viewers: 11; -26%
- new / total followers: 516; -23% / 849
- subscriptions: 81; -9%
- 18 talks
- module system series on dev.java
- active work on JUnit Pioneer
- Accento 2021
- 26 Hours of Java
All very volatile, but overall more things go down than up.
Never doing enough
I’ve always had this feeling of not doing enough. Well, not always. I think it started in my first years at university (beginning in 2004), when I didn’t study enough and definitely peaked during my diploma thesis (2010), where I didn’t research/write enough.
I started working as a professional software developer in 2011 and I don’t recall having that feeling during the first years. Then, in 2014, I wrote my first blog post, 2016 I started speaking at conferences, January 2017 the first newsletter, in September the first video followed by live-streaming in 2018, and somewhere there’s a book and Accento in there, too. And for all of that I never did enough.
One ingredient to that feeling is procrastination. When something excites me or needs to get done by a looming deadline, I may work continuously for ten to fifteen hours a day, focused on the task at hand without many breaks or distractions — it’s pure bliss. But that’s not the norm.
More often than that (I think, I don’t track this), I get just a few hours of work done in a day because I spend much of it, trying to get started. Staring at empty editor windows, long-ass documents, Twitter feeds, email inboxes, and too much YouTube. That obviously leaves a lot of room to feel like not doing enough.
Enough / pull
But what’s enough, anyways? I think that’s the more pertinent question. You could say ~40 hours per week is enough and that’s a pretty neat and simple answer.
But the sad truth is that Google sending readers to my blog, people on Twitter looking who to follow, devs considering which book to buy, and the YouTube algorithm don’t give a shit about how much time I worked. They only care about the quality and quantity of my output.
And that’s obvious in the numbers I just gathered. Do you see how my blog tanks? That’s a clear consequence of only writing 13 posts in two years. Then there’s YouTube, which got better — sure, I published 9 videos in 2021 compared to 2 in 2020.
It’s not like I’m continuously checking these numbers, though. In fact, I didn’t log into my site’s analytics tool in months, but I don’t need to either. Because I know that a post a week, a video a week, a newsletter and Twitter thread a week, that those cadences work, that I enjoy them in other creators and that readers and viewers mostly prefer them. So that’s a pull to always do more, but there’s also a push: ideas!
Enough / push
There’s so much more, I’d like to do! In fact, that’s the reason for the utter stupidity of running half a dozen channels at the same time.
Whenever I do a little experiment with a new Java feature, I want to tweet about it and maybe put it in the next newsletter. I’d love to create a few small apps like the recommendation engine for the Java After Eight/Eleven talk that I can then apply new features to in practice. There are often updates to recent topics that I research for a talk that would make great blog posts. And so on and so forth, but I just don’t get around to all that.
And that’s just the topics and formats I already deal with! There are are lots of more topics, I’d like to explore and a number of formats, I’d love to give a try — anybody up for a weekly podcast with dramatic readings of OpenJDK mails like the recent state of Valhalla? :D
So there’s always this heap of ideas in the back of my mind, continuously applying pressure to do more and more and more. It’s imagination fighting to become reality.
There’s of course much more that can be said about each of these aspects, but I think we’ve got all angles covered: There are too many ideas to implement and too much demand to fulfill, which leads to bouts of long days with lots of flow and high productivity, followed by longer phases of procrastination and reduced output. Overall this doesn’t depress me (even though focusing on it this much probably gives that impression), but it is a near-constant negative feeling, a noticeable drag I need to push against.
But here’s the twist: All of that got better in 2021. Not because I learned something or grew as a person or any of that Kumbaya shit, but because I’m back to salaried employment and all of the above is now part of my job description. That doesn’t mean I get more readers or viewers, but it does mean there’s someone I can occasionally ask “Am I doing enough?” (I kid you not, I already did that twice in just 10 months.) And as pointless as that should be, getting an empathetic “Yes” back by the people who pay your salary does make a difference.
I hope to be able to lean into that more in 2022 to reduce this drag on my well-being and work.
Year of Themes
One other thing we need to briefly discuss is the year of themes that I proclaimed in January. I wanted to pick a theme for each quarter to work on besides the day-to-day business. Somewhere in the middle, I silently switched to seasons because it made me feel less like a hedge fund manager. These were my themes:
- Q1 & Q2 / content planning: Lets not talk about this. :-/
- summer / video: Yes! I did a few SkillShare courses for basics on lighting, sound, and editing… after I got and set up new lighting and sound equipment in first half of the year. :D
- fall / streaming: I got started on this and created a new stream layout but there’s definitely more to do here and I will spend Q1 winter 2022 on that as well.
I really liked how this went, and will try to put aside a bit more time for themes in 2022.
Goodbye 2021, hello 2022
And that’s it for my personal view on 2021 and outlook on 2022. I gotta say, I really love this time “between the years” (that’s what Germans occasionally call the week between Christmas and New Year’s eve — not sure how common this is elsewhere), at least if I can dodge some of that Christmas bullet hail. ;)
The world really seems to be standing still with nobody expecting you to do anything and a lot of time to spend with hobbies, loved ones, good food, and reflection. Particularly, reflection — that’s really something that works so much better when the noise of daily business subsides.
I hope you’re having a relaxed time as well and get to spend it however you like best. I wish you a great year 2022!