2018 has passed! Time to look back, reflect and learn. As every year, here’s looking back and ahead. (If you’re curious about previous yearly reflections, you can read those here).
2018 was a special year! For my personal business, it was its 5th anniversary. This is a milestone I’m really proud on. Starting with freelancing while I was at college was a bit of a random decision. I could have never guessed how significantly it would change my life. Not in the relationships I would build, the skills I would get and the amount of financial freedom it would create. It’s been my single, most proud accomplishment of my life so far.
I’d love to highlight some cool projects I’ve worked on past year I’m significantly proud on.
I can’t say much about this one yet, but I had the opportunity to start working on a new fintech app looking to disrupt the space in 2019. I’ll be continuing to work on this in the coming months. Nearing the end of the year, I hope I can start showing some of the things I’ve done here!
For over a year now, I’ve been involved with K’Ching. The youth mobile banking app from KBC. I assist the team with certain UX challenges and designing new features.
As always, I’m still active in the US startup space. One of the projects I’ve worked on, is the UI/UX for Keepe. A desktop dashboard for property managers.
Finally, one of my favourite projects this year was designing the UI/UX for a mobile app in Canada which aims to connect students with student jobs.
Beyond that, I’ve been a UX mentor at Designlab for 3 years. Many of the students I’ve mentored have been able to find a job in the industry and change their lives. The clichés about teaching are true, you often learn more from students than you teach them. For me, it has been the most effective way to give back to the design community. I never knew that teaching would become an interests of mine, but it has been a very rewarding experience.
At the beginning of 2018, I joined Duval Union Consulting to work as a management consultant. I’ve learnt a lot how corporations work on the highest level and how to do transformative work on a strategic level. At the end of the year, I’ve noticed my true passions lay elsewhere though. I’ll be slowly transitioning my way back to become a full-time product manager & UI/UX design freelancer. 2019 will be scary in the sense that I’m giving up some certainty, but at the same time it’s exciting to have more freedom in terms of what projects I’ll work on.
Last year, I’ve also thought more about my brand vision. My strength is in the niche of product management & design. I want to continue working with my loyal audience of clients I’ve built up over the years and have trust in my work and expertise. By not working solely for a single client, I’m able to continue building up my network and expertise.
718 Cayman & Aston Martin
Without a doubt, the highlight of this year was accomplishing two dreams. Cars have been my single greatest passion for a few years now. In April this year, I got myself my first Porsche. A 718 Cayman, which has been a dream in the past few years.
I’ve always admired the brand vision & design of Porsche. It’s an inspiring brand, with great design talent and I especially adore that they don’t compromise on their values. Every car they build has their characteristic sport DNA, even in their SUVs or sedans.
Even now, I’m still in love whenever I see it parked, start the engine and drive the first few miles. The car has the most exceptional handling I’ve experienced. It’s a great feat of engineering, and I’m grateful I’ve been in the position to own and drive one.
On the day I picked up my 718, I actually had the chance to test-drive the new Aston Martin Vantage. Another exceptionally engineered car. Aston Martin is another brand which is inspiring, in the sense it reflects British luxury and grand touring.
The Vantage is an exceptional machine. It’s meaner than a 718, more refined in its design and interior but in my humble opinion lacked some of the dynamic handling of the 718. Of course, it’s difficult to compare. The Vantage is a sporty grand tourer. But, having driven one, at the end I was happy to step back into my 718, albeit it’s just a 4-cylinder.
Ever since I started learning how to play the piano, it’s been something I’ve been trying to do consistently. Progress has been slow, but steady. When I look back, I can clearly see I’ve grown in comparison to last year. I’ll be continuing to practice heading into 2019, knowing it’s a skill I want to continue to evolve.
In general, investing in your health today is something which builds up compound interest over time. Last year I’ve been pretty happy where I’m at. I felt accomplished and usually healthy. Sometimes I had a lack of motivation, but I think it’s normal considering the amount of pressure I put on myself when it comes to my personal projects and clients. Sometimes you need a break. :)
Over past year, I didn’t work out much. I didn’t run as much as I did previous year, my exercise was mostly limited to walking. Don’t underestimate this, as I tend to walk to pretty much everywhere as I don’t own a bike in Leuven. In that sense, I typically get around 30 minutes walking around each day.
Yet this isn’t enough. I felt as if it was time to start taking exercising more seriously. That’s why I decided to start strength training at the end of last year. I hired a personal trainer and I’ve been consistently focusing on training my core 1-2 times per week under proper guidance. It’s my intention to continue this habit and reflect on the results at the end of 2019.
Financially and business-wise, this year has been the best year to date. Despite that, when I compare towards previous years, it feels as if I have been less productive. I’ve been busy, but my work definitely has been missing a sense of efficiency.
There were multiple times during 2018, I had trouble figuring out a good flow in my projects. While, normally this is something which comes to me pretty naturally.
This is what I consider also to be the biggest risk in 2019. By transitioning to work as a full-time freelancer, you’re solely responsible for your productivity and focus.
I think focus and being able to single-task is my next big challenge when it comes to my personal productivity. By being able to single-task and taking proper breaks, I think I can reduce my total work hours and increase my general productivity, while maintaining current levels of revenue.
It’s becoming a bit of a tradition, to travel at the end of summer with friends. This year, we’ve picked Valencia in Spain.
I knew nothing about this city before and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a beautiful city which combines great weather, with gorgeous architecture, beaches and wonderful food. The city is originally known for its original river which ran besides the city. Today, there’s no water anymore, but a park flows along the city, making it ideal for biking. It reminded me a lot of the feeling of Central Park in New York, but on a smaller scale.
In general, it was great to be away for a while and enjoy discovering a new place.
As last year, I went on a few small city trips. A new place I went to was Cologne in Germany. My personal highlights were the Roman museum, as well as the impressive cathedral. Ideal for passing by for a day or two.
BMW M Drifting & BMW Welt – Munich, Germany
Deciding to give a rememberable father’s day gift (and a chance to push my 718 to its limits on the Autobahn) we drove to Munich to go on a drifting course by BMW in M4s.
Over the course of two days, we spent a lot of time first getting to Munich (even when there’s no speed limit on the autobahn it’s quite far from my parents place). Once we arrived we had the chance to explore the city. We visited BMW Welt and BMW’s museum, which was a superb experience. We also had the chance to try Showroom, a 1 Michelin star restaurant.
Drifting is definitely a cool experience! It’s more difficult than it initially looks, but when it works it’s amazing to be fully in control of a M4 without any mechanical assistance. It helps you realise how many of our cars today are supported by software when driving. Supercool experience!
Old Crow, Zurich, Switzerland
I’ve always been fond of whisky. While I was in Switzerland, I had the opportunity to try some unique Laphroaigs. One from 1991 and one from 1990. They’ve pushed Glenfiddich of the throne as my favourite whisky. Bit peaty and smokey in combination with citrus flavours make it a very balanced whisky. The cherry on top is the complex aftertaste. Difficult to go back and drink something else after you had one, as it’s an exceptional flavour profile.
This year, I had the chance to go checkout some concerts as well. In no particular order: Nils Frahm, Brad Mehldau (my favourite pianist), Air Traffic, Olafur Arnalds and I went to the Pukkelpop festival this year.
My favourite concerts this year were both Justice and Kiasmos, which I’ve both seen at Pukkelpop.
Culinary, it has been an exceptional year as well and I had the experience to try some amazing restaurants. In no particular order: ‘T Zilte in Antwerp (**), Couvert Couvert in Leuven (**), Showroom in Munch (*), EED in Leuven (*), Fragma in Leuven, Vandeijck in Riethoven.
My favourites: In terms of wines and cheese, Couvert Couvert outclasses every restaurant I’ve been in so far. In terms of food, EED was the surprise of the year. I had the chance to visit them before they were granted a Michelin star. The chef is younger than me and it’s amazing thinking how exceptional his cooking is.
Looking ahead, 2019 for me will primarily be a year of hitting a status quo. I’m happy reflecting on past year and the different experiences I had.
For this year, I’ve decided to keep my focus on only a few aspects:
Health-wise, I want to continue with personal coaching and grow physically stronger as a person.
Career-wise, I want to hit status quo as 2018 in terms of revenue but with a bit reduced workload, with the chance to work with some new clients.
Finally, I want to focus this year on being much more conscious in terms of what media I consume.
Here is to an amazing year!