It’s been more than 2 months since I have written anything in my blog. I think it’s to change that.

I started this blog as part of my professional site four years ago. When I started, I didn’t really have much direction or intention for this blog. I began this site, at first, as an extension of my portfolio work with the then intention of using it as a type of online validation platform that I can use to prove my worth, professionalism and acumen as a designer. Over time, as I began to devote more time to freelancing and establishing a business this site took on a more business to business tone with my blog acting more like a thought leadership platform. Over the ensuing years as I began to get more involved with various groups and organizations, my priorities shifted once again to that of an advocacy stance, extolling the benefits and virtues of being part of a community; an industry that was capable of great things. My blog has reflected a great deal of my interests, hopes, and ideas in the last four years. I am at a point now in my life, both professionally and personally, where a shift is going to occur once again.

2015 was an interesting year for me. I began the year working full-time as an art director at a small agency in downtown Harrisburg, then I switched to working in-house as a web developer at Harrisburg University to working the last month in December at yet another Harrisburg-based agency now as an interaction designer. Professionally, 2015 was full of ups and downs. I learned a great deal from the positive and negative experiences I faced. 2015 can be rightfully called “The year I bit off more than I could chew”. I poured a great deal of time and effort into community activities such as AIGA, speaking at conferences and other local events that were meant to foster a community for my industry. I spent a great of my personal time in this realm almost blindly blazing a path towards realizing some high ideas that I hoped would make an impact. To varying degrees, I was successful. Lastly, I grew as a person in 2015 having learned (and relearned) valuable lessons in integrity. I learned a great deal about the people I spent time with; those who were genuine and those who wore a veil of sincerity. These lessons were probably the hardest for me to accept. I could look back on 2015 and cast the entire year in a negative light or I could choose to look back and think about what lessons I learned. I am choosing the latter.

So as we are a month in 2016, I am looking towards this year with great optimism. As I look back on the previous year, I am ever more aware of how I call on my experience to guide me in my future endeavors. 2016 is going to be the year of selfishly me. This is the year that I focus in on a few things; a few goals that I will have achieved by this time next year. Call it a manifesto, call it a mission, call it a list. The label doesn’t matter, the intention and works behind it is all that matters.

1) Learn more. I have had my Lynda.com account for a number of years and I value it tremendously…but not enough to make it a wise enough investment. 2016 is going to be the year that I dedicate myself to learning new, actionable skills. I want to focus more on Web development, more server-side direction as well as keep up to date with front end development techniques. I have found the business courses very helpful for leadership roles, but 2016 is the year of more sleeves up work by doing. Lynda is my only resource, though, there are some great Udemy courses that I know will be vital to my success as a more proficient developer.

2) Design more. On the flip side, I have been pegged as a developer for far too long. I don’t want to mutually exclusive as a designer or a developer, but I need to exercise more in the design realm to keep my thinking and expertise sharp. Luckily for me, These skills will be tested on my own products and services.

3) Sell products. After several different attempts at creating a personal product line of my own, 2016 will be the year. I have already begun blogging my progress on Karanaeh, my D20 campaign setting utilizing the OGL. If this sounds a bit too nerdy for you, I will be developing work for my Redbubble store as well.

4) Spend the right time. This is a big issue for me. I have cultivated a wide network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances and thus, I was spread too thin in 2015. To quote my friend Scott Wilson, I’d rather my spend my time with a small group of friends that matter to me than to a large group of people who really don’t. Those words really hit home with me in a way that kind of becoming a core memory. This doesn’t only apply to spending time with friends, but with family and for myself and spending that time the right way. Luckily, I haven’t lost anyone close to me in 2015, but I am not taking that for granted in the future. It’s the only inevitability we all face. So I am choosing to spend more meaningful and purposeful time with those I hold dear going forward. For myself, spending the right time also means exploring the things that make me happy, completely outside of my professional life. This leads me to picking up a few drum sets and turning half of my studio into a music studio as well. Home brewing has also become a growing passion of mine. Things that interest me and give me a more well-rounded perspective.

5) Do smarter business. Azrael Group suffered in 2015 with all of my other endeavors taking precedent. Azrael Group was always the business of my freelancing and in 2016, I am going to continue to refine my efforts to build and attract the business that I am most proud of and that interests me. I work during the day as a designer and work at night as a freelancer. Doing both is possible, but only when you’re highly focused.

6) Take breaks. Since I left Philadelphia and moved back to Central PA in 2010, I haven’t taken a single vacation. I haven’t been camping in years or took a week and gone back to Pittsburgh. Breaks a necessary. 2015, I am beginning to feel the fray edges of burn out, and coupling that with some health issues I realized the power of taking a break for my own mental stability.

7) Take better care of my health. 2015 was the year of health scares, from physical to mental. As much as I don’t enjoy the Affordable Care Act and how insurance companies manipulate it for their own will, my health is incredibly important to maintain and improve. This doesn’t only mean reactive measures, but a lot of preventative measures as well. There will be more walks throughout the day, more lifting in the garage.

So what does this mean for the blog? Well, a number of things.

– Expect at least one blog post a week.
– Expect to see more relevant posts on design tools, development, and tutorials.
– Expect to see more personal posts (all tagged as “Musings”).
– Expect to see Spoken add-ons to my blog posts.
– Expect to see more photos.
– Expect to see more opinions and conjectures (also tagged as “Musings”).

Looking forward, I feel good. 2016 is going to be a cool year.