Throughout 2017, when people asked how I was doing, I’d say “Great…for the things I can control.” 2017 was a rough year at a macro level for everybody, and I found myself coping with the state of the world in a number of different ways. But on a personal level, I had a rewarding year full of a lot of work, a lot of travel, and even some major life changes.

Here’s a look at what I did in 2017 by the numbers:

  • Wrote 29 posts on my blog
  • Shared only 78 links on my site
  • Traveled over 97,293 miles to over 43 cities in 6 countries on 3 continents
  • Spoke at 13 conferences and gave 14 company and conference workshops
  • Helped 4 clients navigate the many facets of creating and maintaining successful design systems
  • Worked on 3 client websites and 2 side projects
  • Processed 8,428 orders of Atomic Design
  • Raised $3573.55 for relief efforts in Puerto Rico and Mexico City
  • Contributed 50% of my DNA to our soon-to-be-born daughter

2017 Highlights

  • We’re having a baby! – Holy smokes, we’re about to have a daughter. We have a few more weeks to go before our lives are forever changed. We’re ridiculously excited about the whole thing, and I know there’s nothing I can really do to prepare for what’s to come. It will no doubt be a massive adventure.
  • Giving the commencement speech at my high school – I had the privilege of delivering the commencement speech at my former high school. It was a surreal experience to say the least, and I used the opportunity to give some advice about understanding why you enjoy what you do, because what you do will change over the course of your life. You can watch the video below or read the transcript. 
  • Shipping and fulfilling Atomic Design – A few days a week for the entire year, Ian and I packaged up and shipped out paperback copies of Atomic Design to people all over the world. Writing, self-publishing, and fulfilling this book was a giant undertaking, and I’m extremely pleased with how it all turned out. I wrote a lengthy post about the whole process because I think this model could actually work quite well for other authors.
  • Seeing my brother grow as a developer – Ian‘s been working with me for the last two and a half years now, and we’re getting to a point where we’re writing extremely similar code. Because I’m constantly bouncing around, he had to fend for himself quite a bit this year, which I think is an important in career development. He even did a few projects without me, including one for the Harvard School of Business. It’s great he’s getting more experience with more teams, and I’m looking forward for all the work we have planned together for 2018.
  • Consulting with clients to help them navigate the crazy waters around creating and maintaining great design systems. It’s been fun to ride along with teams of different shapes, sizes, and industries and give them guidance on how to set their design systems up for success.
  • Seeing my wife Melissa continue to grow her business, Frost Finery – Melissa just wrapped up three years of running her business, and I’m so happy she’s continuing to grow creatively and businessly (that should be a word). Now that the holiday season is done, I’m glad she’s able to wind down a bit to spend time with our daughter.
  • Traveling all over the place, mostly for work. We returned to South Africa for the Pixel Up! conference, and I brought my parents along for the ride. We also went on a “work-cation babymoon” for a bunch of amazing conferences in Paris, Portugal, and Barcelona. I traveled more in 2017 than the previous year, and while I genuinely enjoy it, I’m ready for a bit of a break.

What’s Next

I have some things in mind I want to accomplish in the coming year:

  • Stay put and care for our daughter – For the first time in 5 years, I don’t have an upcoming flight planned. The baby is due in the coming weeks, and I have it worked out where I’ll be able to take quite a bit of time off (by US standards) to be present. No doubt the travel will ramp up eventually, but I probably won’t be going back to the grueling schedule I’ve become accustomed to over the last few years.
  • Do more remote work – Related to the above point, I’ve been exploring more ways of helping guide clients without having to be on-site. No doubt there are advantages of working on site, but I’ve been conducting design system milestone reviews remotely with clients, and teams seem to really benefit from there.
  • Record an EP – This was a missed goal of 2017, as life and work took priority. That said, we’ve isolated the songs (out of hundreds of rough sketches) we want to develop and record, so we’re hoping to roll up our sleeves and make it happen.
  • Continuing to give workshops and consult with organizations to help them with design systems, atomic design, workflow, responsive design, frontend best practices, and any other thing I can help with.
  • Get better focus – My attention is split in so many ways it’s impossible to get things done. I want to make a concerted effort to reclaim focus. I have a hunch having our baby will force me to be more deliberate with my screen time, so here’s hoping!

Thanks for all your support in 2017, and I wish you all health and happiness in the new year.