A lookbehind at 2020 and lookahead for 2021

Main Thread 6 min read

We all know 2020 put many things on hold. But it's still good to reflect upon the year and set some new goals for 2021. Which we all hope will be a little better.

So, let's jump right in with a review of last year's goals.

2020 Goals

✅ Expand the Shift platform

In 2020 I expanded the Shift platform with the new Shift Workbench, additional services for subscribers, and tools like can I upgrade Laravel. I achieved so much with help from Jess Archer. Especially the latter. She's been contracting on Shift projects and I hope to see that expand in 2021.

Shift again doubled its sales in 2020. Revenue finally grown higher than any previous job I had. This was a huge milestone considering the events of 2020. It also helped mitigate my concerns - that I have been leaving money on the table by quitting previous high-paying consulting jobs.

Even though I didn't strictly achieve this goal by expanding the Shift platform to other technologies, I'm still giving it a big fat check box. I will carry this goal into 2021 as I still want to support more than just Laravel.

✅ Write another book

In August 2020 I released BaseLaravel. I actually made this book free. I didn't release it for financial gains. The goal was more to expand my audience. Ideally breaking the 10k followers on Twitter (a goal I set back in 2018).

All of the educational products I release stem from Shift in one way or another. Getting Git came from the realization devs weren't as comfortable using Git as I assumed. BaseCode spreads practices I shared in my pairing sessions to a wider audience. Confident Laravel increases test coverage which ultimately helps developers verify upgrades. BaseLaravel helps developers implement modern practices and leverage the framework to keep their application code streamlined.

There was a paid package for BaseLaravel which included a bonus chapter, code refactoring videos, and group calls. The book generated roughly $20k in sales. But the free copy was downloaded over 10,000 times. So I consider it a success. And it's yet another asset in my digital portfolio.

✅ Increase savings by 50%

When going full-time on Shift in 2019 I took a massive pay-cut. During that year I also made a large payment towards my mortgage and bought a car (used). I didn't really change my lifestyle much either. I still traveled and dined out, which is how I often spend my money. All of this ate into my savings.

With the lockdowns in 2020 I had barely any personal expenses. As a digital business, Shift also has very little expenses - only server costs and the rare hardware purchase. Combined with the "extra" income from BaseLaravel I was able to achieve this goal.

Unfortunately I took a rather large hit in the stock market with the crash in March. While I consider that a separate investment, the increase in savings definitely helped me feel stable during a volatile time.

➖ Read more

This one was a scratch. In fairness, I did listen to a few audiobooks. But this was nowhere near my original goal - to read the books I have sitting on the shelf as well as new books. Audiobooks count, but I need to put forth more effort to achieve this goal. So I'll caring it over into 2021 with a slight modification.

❌ Increase social activities

Again, with all the events of 2020, this one wasn't going to get checked off. All of our personal travel plans were canceled. All of the conference travel plans were cancelled. We didn't do much dining out.

In addition, we found out in March we were pregnant with our first child. Due to that we were more cautious than most and didn't get out much even during the "unlocked" periods.

There were two exceptions. One was a quick trip to Arkansas to deliver a table I built for Taylor Otwell. Also a trip to Illinois for a Laracon viewing party. Both of which served not only as a tiny bit of travel, but also a social outing which relate to what I do.

2021 Goals

Looking ahead to 2021, a few goals will carryover with some new goals as well. Overall the theme is expand.

Expand Shift as a business

Shift has expanded within Laravel. Yet previous goals were to expand Shift to more frameworks. So I am carrying over this goal into 2021 with a small modification.

I also want to expand Shift as a business. This means more organization. Currently I work on Shift whenever, like a side project. I want to set more regular work hours, outline quarterly roadmaps, and create sprints around those.

Expanding as a business also means potentially bringing on a team member (or partner) to help expand Shift into more services for PHP, Tailwind, and even Rails.

Expand knowledge base

This is a carryover from last year's goal to read more. Again, with a modification. During the lockdown of 2020 I purchased a lifetime subscription to Rosetta Stone. With all the traveling, it's been a goal of mine to improve my Spanish, as well as learn other languages like Italian or German.

I had hopes of using the downtime in 2020, as well as a new parent (ha) to go through some lessons. Of course, I have yet to even finish setting up my account. So in 2021 I would like to get on the path of using this subscription and trying to speak one of these languages. Seems ambitious, but I could at least start practicing by chatting with other developers who natively speak one of these languages.

Increase woodworking

In 2020, woodworking grew from a personal hobby to something which generated income. Most of that was used to buy more tools. So woodworking is not something I am trying to do as my primary source of income.

With that said, woodworking is a clear passion of mine and I'm starting to develop enough of a network to be able to build products on a regular basis. In 2021, I would like to transition this from a hobby to a side project. Who knows, maybe someday I may transition woodworking into a second career.

Diversify investments

I've been investing in the stock market since I was 20 years old. I've had some success as well as epic failures. While I plan to continue investing in the markets, I'd like to put some new money to work in other areas.

I'm not quite sure what these other areas will be. I just know I want to diversify outside of the stock market. This may be cryptocurrency, real estate, or precious metals like gold or silver.

Expand family time

2020 brought with it our first born Isabella Rose McCreary. I am so excited to be a parent. I love watching her grow up every single day. Queue Aerosmith, cause I don't wanna miss a thing.

So in 2021, I want to ensure I am taking breaks to play with Izzy, even for some parent programming. But also establish traditions for our family and extended family as well.

With each passing year my goals become less and less technical. In fact, there aren't any technical goals as expanding Shift is a business goal.

2021 will be the last year of my thirties. I am starting a family. I am exploring other interests. While I will always have a passion for programming and technology, I doubt it will be my main focus by the last year of my forties. It's a transitional period. I want to be ready.