So that was 2019...

Let me paint you a picture.

I’m sitting here in my pyjamas, on the final day of the year and the decade, eating the last of the Christmas truffles, and feeling somewhat self-conscious about the self-indulgence of writing a year in review.

I’m thinking back over the past 12 months and feeling a mix of pride, sadness and a good dose of “what the hell just happened?!”.

Political events aside (I’m still technically a civil servant until 3 Jan 2020), it’s been a heck of a year work-wise, and I wanted to take a moment to look back and capture it.

So here we go…

I did lots of collaboration

This one reads like a bit of a “misc”, but the common thread in all of it has been the joy of collaborating with people I really respect.

Some of my favourite collaborations this year were, in roughly chronological order:

I launched this website and discovered the joy of self-publishing

I started blogging on my own platform (thanks to Adam who built this site for me) which has made a huge difference to my motivation and confidence in putting my ideas into the world.

I wrote 9 articles in total, of which my personal favourites are:

I also published 18 weeknotes which I’ll carry on with in 2020.

I did a tonne of talks

This year, for me, has definitely been the year of the conference.

I hadn’t done much public speaking before but this year I had the pleasure of giving a number of talks, and building my confidence as I went. In 2019, I spoke about:

I find public speaking challenging, but I also really enjoy it and I’ve learned a lot from practicing.

Thank you to Colin Oakley, Jeremy Keith, Barry Briggs, Sybil Hoang, Lauren Pope and all the other organisers involved for having me, and for making your events such a pleasure to be a part of.

I’m hoping to do more speaking next year.

I watched a tonne of public speaking

One of the nice things about speaking at a bunch of conferences this year, was that it meant I got to attend a bunch of conferences this year. I’ve been really lucky to see some brilliant talks and, though I can’t mention them all, I’ve learned something from all of them.

Some of my personal favourites were:

10 more blog posts

After a few conversations earlier in the year with people who were struggling to get blogging, I decided to launch an experiment, called 10 more blog posts.

With the help of some very kind people (Lauren Currie deserves a special mention for helping me get set up, and so does Dave House for designing the stickers), I set it up as a buddy system, using Twitter to partner people who wanted to write a blog post, with people who were keen to support them, whilst learning more about the post’s topic.

At my last count, the initiative had generated 18 blog posts, many of which were written by people who’d never blogged before.

My workload towards the end of the year meant that my intention to properly analyse the experiment and plan next steps fell somewhat by the wayside.

But I’m still really proud of what those of us who took part achieved, and I plan to follow up as soon as possible in the new year.

I left GDS :(

Without doubt the biggest event of this year has been my decision to leave GDS and, for the moment, the Civil Service.

Working there for the past 3 years has been hands down one of the best and most impactful experiences of my life. I met so many incredible people in my time there, many of whom I think will be friends forever.

My time at GDS has shaped who I am, personally and professionally, and helped me to understand what matters to me.

I’m immensely proud of the work I did with the GOV.UK Design System, and grateful for having been given the support and encouragement I needed to do it.

Even though it was the right time for me to go, it was a difficult decision to make.

But that’s been made a little easier by the fact that…

I landed an exciting new role for 2020

I’m going into 2020 as a contractor. I wanted to try it out in the hope it would give me more flexibility, more time and resources to spend on the things I care about.

I felt sure it was the right move for me, but that didn’t stop me from feeling pretty terrified when I handed in my notice with nothing to go to.

Luckily, I landed pretty much the best role I could have asked for to kick-start my contracting career: Product Manager for Babylon Health’s design system.

I’ll be joining them in January and I cannot wait to get stuck in. I’ve been introduced to some of the team already, and everyone I’ve met so far has been utterly lovely.

I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into a new challenge.

Happy new year

So that brings me to the end of my self-indulgent year in review.

A lot of great things have happened this year, and a lot of not-so-good things that I haven’t covered here). Without a shadow of a doubt, the best thing about 2019 has been the people.

If I’m feeling a bit low, my Dad always tells me to hang in there, because you never know when you might meet a person who will change your life. And this year, I’ve met many.

So to everyone who’s been a part of my year, whether you’re mentioned directly here or not, an enormous thank you for being you, and a Happy New Year. Here’s to 2020.