My Mistakes

This is an incomplete list of my mistakes. If anyone has a time machine hit me up, I would love to go back in time to correct them. Listing these here might prevent me from future mistakes. This is just my unique perspective. We each have our own opinions and approach to how we solve problems.

Inspired by the CSS Working Group list of mistakes and 80.000 hours mistakes evaluation.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Not speaking up and voicing my opinion

I regret that I didn’t start writing, posting on social and speaking until I launched this personal website. Having one forces you to create your own voice. It's about sharing what I learn and writing down my view and opinions.

Not documenting and creating

I don't document a lot. I don’t take a lot of pictures or video’s. I’m making an effort in documenting more and creating things instead of consuming. I automatically consume for entertainment but the best way to entertain yourself is to actually create stuff. Idle hands build nothing.

Not caring about my body

Your health influences how you feel. I used to not take care of my body. Stretching regularly, have an ergonomic workspace and cardio are so important. Oh, and cooking is one of the most rewarding and useful skills to have.

Thinking programming wasn't for me

I regret not starting programming earlier, I wanted to be a visual/graphic designer for too long. I actively avoided programming (technical) courses and know see what a stupid idea that was.

Buying cheap items

I regret buying a lot of cheap stuff instead of buying less items but with better quality. I always bought the cheap things which ended up breaking and had no value for me. The world is full of products and items that don't matter. Half of the shit is unnecessary. Spending money on good products (tools) that last you a life time, caring about the value and materials, are good long-term investments.

Procrasinating too much

I was a huge procrasinator. What you do is what matters not what you think, say or plan. Same goes for putting things off and 'waiting until the time is right'. The way to really figure out what needs to be done is to actually start doing real work.

Making polished things

Sweating the details early on was a huge mistake. Make iterations and that process of repetition makes for the best possible result. Prototyping more, put work in context and try things out. Improve with small steps and make it better 1% each time.

Saying yes to everything

Pick the things that are not worth doing. Use the power of no to get your priorities straight. You rarely regret saying no but you often regret saying yes. Saying yes to time consuming client projects just because of income instead of working on projects I was passionate about. The clients you pick define you. Never do work for a bad client, from a bad client always comes an even worser client. My yes has become very valuable.

Not valuing my own time

Going to stupid meetings with no agenda, working on projects for friends and collegeauses for free. It's weird that we all work but never think about how to work.

Not choosing my limitations

Freedom is not having more options, it's about choosing your own limitations. It's all about having control. People see quitting as failing but what's the worst that can happen? Sometimes quitting a project is exactly what you should do. Cut back the number of commitments you made for yourself.

Surrounding myself with the wrong people

Always have people in your environment who believe in you and push you to go further. People who put you in positions that you are not really ready for and let go of people who are bringing you down.

Doing 'production work' early in my career

I did a lot of production work (busy work) early in my career, like a machine, instead of working on complicated things which yields solutions and accomplishes goals. N I worked on a lot of things I didn't want to work on. No more busy work and jobby jobs.

It's all about tools

Tools matter, but the outcome matters more. I used to jump on every trendy bandwagon and always switched between different tools regularly. I still try out new tools but always stick to a couple I feel comfortable with. It's better to learn how to learn tools, not the tool. You need to learn how to switch between tools and getting a grasp on them instead of investing learning all the ins and outs of one particular tool.

Underestimating how hard it is to begin programming

When you have prior programming experience you skip over stuff you think other people already know. Put yourself back in that position of first starting out. Things are never 'simple', 'obvious' or 'clear'.

Thinking people higher up are smarter

They have more life experience, but don't always know the latest nuts and bolts. If a teacher dresses in a suit and is 'senior' says nothing about how good of a teacher he or she is. I can put on a suit but that doesn't make me a better teacher.

Thinking job titles mattered

I have no idea what my job title should be and they don't matter.

Everything is unique

Everything is a remix. Copying people is how I learned to design. It’s the way everyone learns almost anything. The process of design starts with something you can debug.

Design is the same as art

Design is functional, readable and human-centred. You should care about the user. If you create something for your own it's art.

Unnecessary re-designs

I redesigned and refactored a ton that wasn't driven by a single problem or use case. I see a lot of people re-design for the sake of the re-design. Making things more 'modern'!

Not preparing

A thing that I definitely learned when I started teaching. Always prepare before you go into a classroom, don't just show up and click trough slides. Same goes for meetings, if a meeting doesn't have a clear agenda I'm not coming. Take notes on everything.

Not setting standards

You set the standard for the behavior you want to see. Small behaviors matter, eg ending a meeting on time if others are waiting or respond and deliver on time.

Giving negative feedback

Always see solutions, positive enforcement. I look a lot on things that can be done better instead of giving compliments about things that are already good. When you give feedback always give feedback on the product not the person.

Requests are always urgent

Almost everything can wait. There are not many things that can't wait a couple of days. How often do you get an e-mail in the morning of something that should be fixed today? Or the other person expects you to respond withing a couple of hours. This is wrong. I’ll think about it, and get back to you on my own time.

Caring what other people are doing

You'll just spend time worrying about other people instead of improving yourself. If you want to do something who's permission are you waiting for?

I'm the expert

I'm figuring things out the same way you are. It's hard to admit that you don't have all the answers.

There is no growth hack

Focus on quality and value. There is no growth hack. Just create good content.

Hard separation between work and life

I always thought you needed to have a clear separation between work and personal life. You should find ways to bring your personal life and work life together as much as possible. Balancing the two didn't work out for me.

Planning everything ahead

There is a moment where you should stop planning and just discover things along the way.

Consuming low-value entertainment

There are to many series to watch. There are to many games to play. I was guilty of watching shitty stuff. Only watch high-quality things but even better is not consuming but creating.

Not showing my mistakes

Make mistakes and be open about them. You make mistakes all the time and it gives people insight in your problem solving process. If you fail; review what went wrong, recover from the experience, be thankful for it and then move on.