2017 – My Year in Review

That’s it, you’ve to let go of 2017. It’s about time you welcome 2018 with whatever you’ve got. Letting go and moving on has also been the highlight of my actions in 2017. Here’s me again, doing a self-review of 2017 by remembering the events that had a significant impact on my life and trying to get better as I go.

1. Quit my job and went full-time freelance

Yes, I finally quit my job on 26th of Jan (India’s Republic Day). I’d been part-time freelancing for 5+ years, but this is when I took the plunge and went full-time freelance. It wasn’t completely planned though. I quit my last job to be able to work on my portfolio and start applying for the companies abroad. That didn’t work out as expected and freelancing became my main thing.

2. Product Disrupt

For quite a while, I’d this idea in mind of creating a resource for those who wanted to learn product design from the internet. It was time that I put my ideas to work. And so, I put together a website within a week and a half’s time and called it Product Disrupt.

Product Disrupt
Product Disrupt

With a friend’s help, I launched it on Product Hunt and fortunately it became the #1 product of the day. This brought me a significant amount of recognition within the community and also generated quite a few leads for my freelance work.

Side projects for the win 🤘

3. A series of many failures

If you’re a repeat reader of my blog, you’ve probably read my long story about the failures I’d in the mid of 2017. To give you just a brief idea here, my hunt for a job outside of India didn’t bring me many positive results and when it did, I was refused a visa, twice.

This brought me great grief and I’d to take a indefinite break from whatever I was doing.

Many Failures
Not me, but I could be found in similar posture

4. Thailand provided a way forward

Hold it! Visiting Thailand doesn’t automatically mean that you want to just get laid. I mean, I agree that it’s true most of the times, but this wasn’t that time.

Thailand amazed me AF

Thailand was my first trip abroad and buoy, the feeling of getting your first visa stamp is just magical. This was also my first taste of living the remote life, which basically means carrying your work with you, wherever you go. The place where I spent most of my time is called Koh Lanta.

Spending a month in Thailand changed the way I approached life, for good. It opened my eyes to the things I wasn’t seeing before.

I’d left my home alone, but I returned with lots of friends all over the world. Read this to know what happened with me in Thailand.

5. Dubai – When client calls

It’d only been a month since I returned from Thailand when I was invited to visit my client based in Dubai, UAE. We were getting started to work on a new project and needed to kickstart with some early discussions and setting up the product roadmap.

Darshan Dubai Aquarium
That’s me with an awkward smile

I’ve shared my Dubai experience here. Take a read to know why I’m not a big fan of Dubai 😉

6. Learn to let go and welcome what’s next

I learned this the hard way and I guess, there’s no easy way to learn it. I didn’t get to face many failures all these years, may be cause I wasn’t trying hard enough or may be cause I just stuck to my strengths. So, when I took the plunge and started exploring the unknown, I was taken by a little surprise when the failures knocked my door.

However, this also taught me this simple lesson about moving forward.

The sooner you get over your failures and get back to the hustle, the quicker you move towards the success.

7. Speaking at renowned colleges

I’ve been speaking and conducting workshops from my college days (2011 and forward), but this year was special. I made my debut of speaking at away venues and buoy, it was with IIT-B in Mumbai. It followed with a speaker session at NIT-Rourkela. These guys flew me to Rourkela all the way from Mumbai and I was absolutely humbled by their hospitality. More than the monologue, I really enjoyed the extended Q&A with the enthu and passionate students.

Speaking at IIT-B
That’s my Speaker face

One thing that I’ve learned from my speaking engagements is that people love relatable stories because it gives them the hope that one day they too could speak at such an event. You just have to stay true to yourself and be as authentic as you can with whatever you’ve got to share.

8. Product Disrupt Blog & Newsletter

Taking action on the Product Hunt community’s suggestions, I started a new blog and a half-monthly newsletter that curates the disruptive resources and stories on product and design. It’s already been an year worth of effort without directly making a single penny out of it. But, I hope the subscribers count will go up exponentially the coming years, which will allow me to take sponsors in order to continue running it.

9. The mountains of North India

I took another solo trip this December, this time to Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. It was a 14-days backpacking vacation and I’m just back last week. It turned out to be way more adventurous than I’d originally imagined. I’ll soon be sharing my story right here. So, come back soon and check this blog or just subscribe to my personal mailing list to be notified as soon as I take it live.

Hiking at Kheer Ganga
That’s my Hiking face

By the way, this was also the first time that I saw snow in my entire life.

10. Picking up Photography as a skill

I’ve always been a visual person and enjoy capturing stories with my cell phone, which doesn’t have a great camera. I’d been long delaying my plans on getting myself a DSLR and learning photography as a skill.

Just before going on the trip to North India, I bought a Canon 1300D and started exploring photography on a slightly better camera. As you might’ve guessed, I’ll be sharing a lot of these pictures with a “use however you want” license.

I’ve already started sharing my pictures on Unsplash for free downloads and would also start sharing it over here soon.

11. Diagnosed with an incurable vision disease

I visited a Retina Specialist earlier this week and got diagnosed with Stargardt disease. This means that I can’t read stuff with low contrast and a distance. And find it difficult to recognise faces from a distance. The good news is that this doesn’t causes complete vision blindness, but the bad news is that it can’t be cured. I’ve to now take this one tablet every day for the rest of my life in order to suppress the chances of further vision loss.

This also makes me an automatic filter for less accessible design. Yeah, I can legitimately tell if your design is flawed in terms of accessibility. Well, I at least get to put my weakness to some good use 😉

12. Awarded as best in Digital Design

You might vaguely remember me reaching out to you and pledging for some support on my nomination for a blogging award by IndiBlogger. They announced the results on 30th Dec and DarshanGajara.com emerged as a winner in the category of Digital Design.

I can’t thank you enough for the love and support you’ve shown to this blog. It feels great and acts as a strong motivation when you know your stories are being read and creating an impact of some sort. Thank you for showing up!

It’s all well that ends well.

Ahh, that’s it from me for 2017. How did your 2017 roll out? I would love to hear your stories. You can share it in the comments down below or just reach out to me on twitter at @WeirdoWizard .

Wishing you a very happy new year. Hope to see you create even more in 2018 😊


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