Another yearly retro post (2021)

#2021  #recap  #personal  #retrospectives 

It felt like only a few months ago we wrapped up 2020 with a solid one-fingered salute as we passed to 2021. Similarly I feel the same this year, and truly hope that in a year’s time the overall sentiment won't be as morose and cynical.

2021 was very much more of the same. We all learned to live in that purgatory world of uncertainty, heightened anxiety and the consistent releasing of cortisol from society’s collective adrenal gland. Taking a leaf out of other’s yearly wrap-ups, it’s better to take stock and focus on the good bits, perhaps giving just a cursory nod to the bad ones.


Firstly, we as a family avoided Covid. Somehow, some way we made it through 2021 (and 2020) without infection.

In 2020 Covid felt distinctly outside of my social circle and immediate periphery. I didn’t know anyone who had it. Then as 2021 progressed that circle seemed to get smaller. The year ended with some of my colleagues and friends getting Covid, making it feel significantly ‘on our doorstep’.

It also reminded me that being vaccinated and boosted is a privilege, not an indictment. It’s beyond frustrating to think that so many of the general population have slipped into some bizarre reality where it’s viewed as an attack on their freedom, where they know science better than anyone, and that this is all some bizarre hoax. The vaccination is, in reality, the only way we’re going to get out of this wretched mess we find ourselves in.

Getting vaccinated
Up Norf


2021 was definitely the year after the year that was. If 2020 was all hands to the pump, firefighting something unprecedented and new, 2021 was the year where the real damage was done.

Another year remote, another year interacting with colleagues and clients through a screen only, at all times trying to lead an agency, win work, keep people happy… burnout was always inevitable. The year was memorable for many wrong reasons, notably where a fellow leadership colleague had to go to hospital due to stress and anxiety. They were a canary in the coal mine that made us all take some time out to recharge and take stock.

Cold on the Downs


The year wasn’t all doom and gloom. As a family we were privileged enough to get to Spain for a few weeks (and climb a mountain). We also visited Cambridge in glorious weather, walked all over the Downs, used our local beach, celebrated anniversaries and birthdays, watched England (and heartbreak) in the Euros, visited my Dad in the Peak district, soaked up culture in London numerous times, have my sister over from Canada for a visit, get boosted and… quit my job. Oh, and cycle a lot. Not as much as I’d have liked, but an OK amount.

Visiting Cambridge
Top of the world

New chapters

Much of the stock taken during my mini-sabbatical concluded in a realisation that it was time for a change. 2+ years at full speed during an unprecedented time while running an agency like Clearleft is a tough gig. Add to that mix some problems with culture, team dynamics and consistently managing upwards, and there was a collective recognition that it was either stay and continue to expect different outcomes (ie the definition of insanity), or change things up.

I chose the latter, so I've since left Clearleft and will be moving to new pastures in February.

One of the few real-world office get togethers in the year
And relax


I’m not one for resolutions, really.

However I plan on kicking ass at my new gig. I want to cycle more. I generally want to make 2022 make up for the shit that has been the last two years. Hopefully we’ll see Covid slowly recede, society will stop being so divisive and things start to look up. We can hope and dream, at least.

P.S. Oh, and I intend to write more. Though I say that every year.

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