2011 review

I like to write myself a review of the previous year. I take my highs and lows and consider what brought each about; how can I repeat and improve on the highs; how can I avoid repeating the lows.

2010 was a difficult year. From the outset of 2011, I tried to design and live the life I want to live, now. That works wonders.

My main highlight was Ironman Lanzarote. Not completing the race, although that's an achievement I am very proud of, but the stand out memory is of my preparation for it. I practiced the hell out of that bike course. Before the days when I succumbed to bringing an ipod on long bikes, I battled through some dark times going through *that* wind, on those long and climbing roads. The highlight of Lanzarote preparation for me was this horrible moment:



I was part way around the 180km bike course, for the third time, in six days. I reached my pain and frustration barrier, got off my bike, slumped down on the side of the road; wanting to give up, wanting to be picked up. After wallowing in self-pity just long enough to annoy myself, I negotiated with myself to shut up, get up and finish... just another 4 hours to go. This mission of three 8hr rides in one week, might not have been the best physical preparation, but mentally it gave me not only the confidence that I could do this course on time, but a reminder that I have mental reserves that can work through some serious lows and pain barriers.

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A massive change was finishing a decade of consulting and becoming an employee, with LivingSocial. Some people were curious how I would cope, working a regular 40hr week. I'm not sure if they realised quite how hard I had to work as a self-employed person, for so long.

It was a honour to join this team of people, amongst the best in my field. There were elements of the new job that I expected to be great: there's a feeling of ownership of work, commitment to an overall, ongoing product, a buzz of smart people getting things done, a requirement to deliver… it's a very demanding and rewarding combination.

There are elements of the new job that I hadn't expected: the most noticeable was the almost instant, huge reduction in my stress levels. Knowing there is work, which I don't have to source, all month (and the next!) knowing there is a paycheck at the end of the month (on the day they say!) just takes away a huge weight that I didn't even realise I carried, until I no longer had to. Focusing on doing my job, making software, not the variety of other 'jobs' that are part of being self-employed, is a welcome change.

Other notable highs/lows