2018 review, 2019 plan, and not being able to commit.
10 months ago
Expressing gratitude for 2018
2018 was a great year for me. Although I spent the first half of the year wallowing about my lack of progress and being stuck, the second half of the year made up for all that lost time and frustration.
I'm listing below all the good things that happened in 2018 so that I can read them again whenever I'm doubting myself during 2019 ( If you're not interested in hearing me pat myself in the back, please skip to the next section ) :
Completely stopped smoking : I picked up the habit in college and have been smoking a pack a day of cigarettes for about about 4 years. After multiple failed attempts, I finally figured it out by the end of 2018.
Started working out : This is another big one, I was never able to stick to working out for longer than two weeks. Today, I can't see myself going more than 2 days without lifting some weights. What helped me tremendously was taking all the friction out, by buying all the equipement I needed and working out at home. Now that I don't need any willpower to work out, I'll be getting a gym membership as soon as I hit a plateau at home.
Waking up early : For years, I thought of myself as a night owl. Turns out, I'm not. I just like staying up at night. Nowadays, I try to sleep before 01 AM, and wake up at 08 AM or earlier.
Discipline : This is the underlying meta-skill that allowed me to do all of the above in such a short time. In 2018, I realized I was never disciplined during my 28 years of existence and anything I commited to was just because I enjoyed it, I could never force myself to do the things I knew I should be doing.
Other habits I'm currently working on : Reading books every day, meditating daily, and journaling.
I wouldn't have been able to do any of the above without the support of the people around me, as well as a few resources, events and people :
A month long holiday to Bali : I went there in may 2018, and This trip changed my perspective in so many ways and essentially helped me get unstuck when I was about to hit rock bottom.
Jordan Peterson's lectures & books : I got obssessed with his lectures and watched every single one of them because he could put into words what I had in mind but could never formulate. He also helped me embrace responsibility.
The willpower instinct by Kelly McGonigal : This book helped me understand how willpower works, and how I could manage and expand my own willpower limits instead of just submitting to my already small reserves. If like me, you struggled with discipline, this book will help.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius : This book got me interested in philosophy and how it can be used as a framework to navigate life. If you're feeling lost and not sure where you're going, this book can act like a map.
Work related achievements
Overcoming maker paralysis : By October 2018, although I was feeling better with all the habit changes, I was still stuck at work. I couldn't get myself to ship new products, until I did the ship therapy challenge.
Starting a blog & building an audience : This was one of the best decisions I took. Thanks to the blog I was able to remove so many of the biases that kept me stuck in a loop when I wasn't sharing my work, so thank you for your support during these past months!
Selling one of my projects : Recently, I sold 1kprojects, the first project out of the ship therapy challenge. Which was a great confirmation that I'm going in the right direction.
Growing my network and making new similarly minded friends : Last but not least, through all of the above, I was able to talk to so many new makers, entrepreneurs and self employed folks going through similar things as me. It definitely helped me feel less lonely, less doubtful, and more motivated to keep at it!
The one thing I couldn't do in 2018
I'm not complaining, 2018 has been excellent for my personal growth, and was great for my professional growth. Even though I achieved pretty much all my goals, I haven't been able to move the needle to what I thought at the time was the most important goal : Starting a project I would want to commit to for the next few years.
In retrospect, I can see how setting that goal as the most important one was wrong. Everything from my physical health to my mental health was going to shit, and yet I thought that if I could just find something to work on for the next few years, everything else would be okay.
So in a way, I'm glad I wasn't able to find that project, if I did, I may have never gotten around to fixing the other obviously more important issues. But still, I can't ignore the fact that I did try, and couldn't.
I tend to overthink things, and so for about two months I tried deconstructing why I couldn't commit. Which led me to asking various questions about passion, discipline, responsibility... Each of those sending me on a different rabbit whole.>
During that time, I've gone through the following states of mind :
I'm not passionate about building software anymore, I should just switch careers.
I'm a creative person and it's been years since I've done anything creative. I should switch to a creative career.
But I have responsibilities, bills to pay, and a lifestyle to maintain. I can't do that.
I should get back to software consulting full time, and start a new creative career on the side.
It's probably too late to start a new career, all my career capital / experience is in software and entrepreneurship.
( After not writing any code for a few weeks ) I actually love building software, and working on new products, I have so many new ideas now.
I actually wrote a very dramatic blog post about why I'm quitting the software / startup world.
Eventually, I realized that building products from scratch is what I've always been passionate about, and writing code is a great skill to have in this particular situation. And the reason I was not able to commit to a project, isn't because I was in the wrong field, it's probably because I wasn't disciplined enough to just do it.
Which is great, at least it's on me and I have control over that.
To help my future self, I created a Trello board called "When in doubt", in it, I tried addressing all the doubts I've had during the past 60 days. The idea is that when I eventually get the same doubts a few months down the road, I can check the board and remind myself that I've already gone through this and that I should just power through the bad times and remember the good times.
The plan for 2019
I feel guilty about taking two months to just "think" about this stuff, but at the same time, I feel like it was essential and if I hadn't spent the time now, I would've had to do it later while I'm in the middle of some project launch. So I'm glad I got this over with, and really looking forward to the rest of the year.
Below are the most important goals I have set for 2019 :
Commit to every project I start for at least 3 months post launch : This does not include success or revenue numbers, at this point I'm just trying to learn to commit. Anything else ( Acquisition, MRR...) would just be a side effect of my commitment. The hypothesis I'm testing here is : The success of a project depends more on how much time I've committed to it than on the idea, the market or the business model.
Learn writing, content marketing & SEO : To scratch my creative itch, to market my products, and to learn three new valuable skills at once. If I can fit it later in the year, I would love to self publish a book, or at least write it.
That's it, only two big goals. I've broken each of them into more measurable sub-goals that I'd rather keep out of this post since they're all replaceable. I'm planning to come back to this specific article whenever I get lost.
For those of you subscribed to the newsletter, I will be publishing less on the blog than previously, as I'd like to write longer, higher quality and more actionable posts. If you're interested in smaller updates of my journey / products, make sure you follow me on Twitter.
I'm going to Bali for 2 months
I wanted to start this journey on the right foot, so I thought I'd go back to the place where I made my last breakthrough in life : Bali.
I'll be there from April 16th to June 10th, most my time will be spent in Ubud as it's my favorite place on earth, with a few days spent in the Gili islands.
If you're around Ubud and want to hang out, hit me up on Twitter!
Last but not least : Thank you!
I wanted a separate section to thank whoever is reading this, subscribed to the newsletter, followed me on Twitter, or reached out. You have helped me turn 2018 around and provided me with the support I needed to move forward in life & work.
If I can ever give back to you, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.