Chris Gibbons Design Technologist

Thank fuck '23 is nearly over.

It is safe to say that 2023 will hardly go down in the annals of history as a classic. How come? Well, for one redundancy. The after-effects of dealing with all the baggage that came with it, as well as the state of the technology job market due to the tough economy (thanks, Tories, for ruining that too!), have had a massive impact on my mental wellbeing - more of that later.

January started with so much promise

Well, I tell a small lie there, really it didn’t.

Work was tough. Everyone was still dealing with the fallout of the somewhat disastrous re-org that had occurred late in the previous year. On a personal level, it allowed me to start collating notes & thoughts on the questions “What do I want to be doing?”, “How can I get the spark back?”

Ironically, nearly a year later, these notes have helped provide me with clarity for a direction to head towards in 2024.

Some of my close colleagues were fortunate to gain meaningful employment in other organisations. Sadly this would mean the team & relationships we had worked so hard to forge over the previous 12-18 months were slowly crumbling. Little did any of us know then that far worse was to come.

On a personal note, a seemingly innocuous training session (couch -> 5km) culminated in a torn meniscus and a stress fracture of the tibia that caused a bone marrow oedema, leaving me thinking training would be done for the foreseeable.

Thankfully, work had just started private healthcare (about the only good thing they had as a benefit). As much as I love and admire the NHS, it meant I was extremely fortunate to be able to jump the queue.

Easter bombshell and mid-year slump

The news of redundancy dropped THE DAY BEFORE EASTER - How is that for a big fuck you, and oh yea, enjoy the long weekend, culminating with my contract ultimately being terminated, such a crass phrase, over the summer.

Whilst this wasn’t ideal (is losing your job ever?), it did give me plenty of time to get lots of walking in, as well as getting a nice tan - at least on my arms/legs.

Job after job, after job, after job, after job got applied for in fact, I’ve already written about the process and how fucked it is in my week notes, as well as in post redundancy thoughts, it’s probably best to read those then come back.

I was fortunate in August to land a position as Tech Principal (focussed on Front End) at AND Digital. This took the immediate pressure off, and I was relieved to be back in the game. I had a couple of week’s leave to look forward to, then was raring to go.

Return of the…

And just when you think things are back on track, the demons that I had been fighting and pushing away all year make an overwhelming return. I am, of course, talking about mental health!

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m neuro-diverse and suffer from MH issues - anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. I overshare that fact, not for sympathy but for awareness.

Most of the time, they are under control, either under my own volition or that of SSRIs. I was put on Fluoxetine last year for about 6 months and they really helped, and in hindsight, I might have been too eager to come off them, but hindsight is 2020.

Hopefully, now I’m back on them they can help again, only this time I will be in less of a rush to come off them.

Plans for 2024?

As I alluded too earlier, the notes I wrote all the way back in January have helped provide me with a little clarity on a direction I want to persue.

What do I want to be doing?

  • FE “stuff” - Think the good stuff, HTML/CSS/JS, prototyping, refining UX etc.
  • Accessibility - We all know I’m a big fan/advocate of accessibility, I want to do more in this space.
  • Training and mentoring others.
  • Public speaking
  • Work with likeminded folk, not folk who are snarky or selfish!
  • More work with design systems!

There’s a couple of other points, but they’re not for sharing.

How do I get the spark back?

  • Look at what the me of 10 years ago wanted.
  • Where do I get motivated?
  • What’s missing?
  • What do I want to be doing in my job that I’m not?
  • Public speaking opportunities?
  • How to write more?
  • How can I manage neuro-diversity to enable me reading more?
  • What does my ideal job look like, then work back.

After reflecting on these, I really want to push more into the design space, and firmly believe a move to a more “design technologist” focussed role is where I belong.

Well, there we go then. Hopefully, you enjoyed my little ramble. Feel free to contact me if you fancy working together!.

In the meantime I’m off to find a very dark room for a lie down.

Onwards to ’24