2021 year in review

It’s hard to believe it’s the start of another year. 2020 felt like it lasted forever while 2021 was a blur. I think 2021 was “2020 one” and 2022 is “2020 two”, which is what this pandemic feels like at the moment, that 2020 has never actually ended. Nearly two years into this pandemic and people still don’t know how to wear a mask properly, but I digress…

Anyway, it’s always interesting re-reading the previous year or two’s posts to see where my head was at. Last year, I made no resolutions but did mention some things I thought might happen, so here’s how I fared.

2021 in review

I had fairly low expectations for 2021 and somehow managed to meet them but overall 2020 was a far better year for me which is saying something.

I was fortunate to receive my 5th MVP Award last year. I did not expect to get my renewal but the program team re-awarded everyone without requiring us to submit contributions, which was a welcome and unexpected bonus. Even pre-COVID, I never thought I would get to 5 awards, so that was a bright spot for the year.

Business-wise, it was one of the slowest years I’ve had in the last several in terms of billable work and revenue but to be honest, I didn’t try all that hard to fill in the gaps in my schedule. One thing the pandemic has taught me is to be more selective with my time and what projects I take on, whether it’s personal or business. It’s kind of like Marie Kondo’s saying, does it “spark joy”? (LOL) I said no to a few things that could have helped me have a better year last year and have no regrets.

Where I invested that “free” time was in my business instead. I had a goal to get more organized around tracking projects and day to day work. I started using a program called ClickUp to organize my client projects. I put a lot of time into trials of various different applications and processes, and finalized using ClickUp as my tool of choice. Once I got that configured to work for how I wanted things organized I started building out some reports and dashboards around it. All of that helped spark some new blog posts around Power BI and Power Query as I worked through different types of APIs. It was a lot of fun to learn new stuff again and I have more work I want to do with it in 2022. For now, I get a daily email from Power BI that shows me a snapshot of my projects, my unbilled time, budget to actual etc., refreshing a couple of times a day automatically so it’s always up to date. Having a personal use-case to work with data I understand and can validate easily has really helped me elevate my knowledge of more of the Power BI stack.

On the personal side of things, for the first 8 months I did achieve what I hoped for, which was taking time for myself every day and focusing on mental and physical health. I continued to walk a ton but at some point in the summer I started to develop Plantar Fasciitis and 4 months later, I’m still fighting it. No matter what I am doing, it’s always there and not healing as I would like it to. During that time, I have barely left the house as nearly any walking sets me back a couple of days on the other end. It has been frustrating to be sitting still so much.

I ended the year with a car accident (in mid-December, thankfully pretty minor for all involved), but still feels pretty shitty, especially when I was the one at fault. It was a shock to the system and a general pain-in-the-ass to deal with. I’m physically fine, most of the immediate pain is gone, I’m dealing with some residual things that I think are from the accident which hopefully will be gone soon too.

The last few days have been hectic with my partner’s mom being admitted to the hospital for non-COVID reasons, only a couple of days after her parents celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. That’s shitty news at the best of times but during COVID, it’s even more difficult with over-worked hospital staff, restrictions on visiting etc. all making it very hard for them to get updates on how her mom is doing. As I write this on New Year’s Eve, the family got to speak to her mom very briefly for which they are all thankful to hear her voice, even if it was a short call. We’re all crossing fingers that she will recover and be home early in the new year.

Otherwise, the good news is my family and I have otherwise stayed healthy, most of us have avoided getting COVID, and we’ve all received our first two vaccination shots, and many of us have now been boosted too. While cases are at record levels at the moment, it feels like a miracle we’ve escaped mostly unscathed at this point.

2022 plans

Like last year, I’m not making any specific resolutions this year but have some general things on my mind. As always, I’d like to get my MVP award renewal but I am not crossing my fingers. After several months of inactivity, I have only recently started to feel like blogging again, and even though there are 3 months left to “get contributions in”, it may not be enough. Time will tell and I’m OK with it either way. The longer I’m an MVP, the more pressure it feels to maintain it. It’s been an honour either way that I am very grateful for.

Business wise, I’m going to keep playing more with Power BI to fill out my skill set and get as much “real world” experience with it as possible, and blog about what I learn. I’ll still be primarily focussed on Dynamics GP of course, and have no plans to move to another ERP. There’s lots of life left in Dynamics GP depsite the naysayers, and with more and more talented people moving on to greener pastures each year, that means more opportunities for independent consultants like myself.

On the personal side, I really want to get back to walking every day like I used to, once my foot heals. I also can’t wait to go travelling again to see friends or family. I doubt I will travel anywhere this year, and if I do, it’s likely to be within Canada.

We’ll see how the pandemic continues, but I suspect at the end of 2022 it won’t look too much different from what it does today. I hope I’m wrong!

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