Possibility and Probability

A Python programmer with a personality thinking out loud

4 January 2020

2019 Review

by Nick

2019 has come and gone.

I had ideas about how I wanted the year to go… and it turned out nothing like I thought it would.

I have done a more personal version of this (e.g. more detailed) for myself, but I do want to share some of the lessons learned. So let’s take a look back!

The overall plan

2019 was the year I wanted to get more entrepreneurial activities going. For the past few years I’ve been learning about the topic for a few years and dancing around the idea of going out on my own. This year I was planning to move more in that direction…

And then I was laid off from my day job. This was deja-vu from the last few years and for a hot second I thought this was the time… more on this in a second.

My other plans included increasing my daily reading (and eliminating “junk” reading), a regular exercise routine, and more time with the family.

I was recording my daily plans/activities, and I had what looked like pretty good S.M.A.R.T. metrics around the goals. I was set up for success!

What could go wrong?

Reality hits

When the layoff happened I thought this could be my opportunity to go independent. I had the bones of what I thought was a good idea (RemoteMatcher) and now I had a suddenly open daily schedule… But nothing in this plan was pointing to being able to replace my day-job income.

Additionally I realized I am too much of a generalist for my comfort. The more specialized you are the easier it is to get more money and opportunities. I had know this for a while, but facing it while staring down a suddenly missing paycheck is really bad timing.

In the several days that all this was going on, I got an opportunity to join a really interesting startup. The numbers said “take the day job”, so I did. For a looooong time I tried to keep up my entrepreneurial activities.

RemoteMatcher’s 12 week year

The core of this effort was working on RemoteMatcher. I had what seemed like a pretty straightforward plan to get it to the point where it could start generating money.

I did a 12 Week Year “sprint” to implement this plan. I did weekly journal posts as I went, and I’m really glad I did. I think it really captures the symptoms of the problem I was facing. Basically, I was split between too many things, and this was not where I should be focusing my efforts.

In the end I’ve let RemoteMatcher more-or-less run on auto-pilot.

I need to make something, but I need to make the right thing and for the right reasons. In other words: “Quit trying to make something that makes money from the start.”

So was the whole year lost?

No, not at all! The entrepreneurial activities were really time consuming. The other goals were not easy, but they were fulfilling.

The good

Health: I didn’t completely achieve my health goals (daily meditation became a struggle for some reason), but the effort put in there had a definite positive impact. Regular exercise led to a stronger me which was an awesome feeling.

Family time: I made an conscious effort this year to do intentional activities with my family. This wasn’t a home run, but any improvements in this area has out-sized returns.

Reading: This is the one goal I absolutely loved and completed. Combining this with an experiment in Digital Minimalism towards the end of the year meant I read a ton of great things and cut out a ton of garbage. Things I stopped reading: the daily news (instead I do semi-weekly review), twitter/facebook, random websites. Things I increased reading of: e-books, paper books, using Pocket to capture “things that look interesting” for later review, and keeping a commonplace journal of my readings.

The bad

Health: For all the positives I discovered, I didn’t keep consistent with it. By the end of the year I wasn’t exercising as much as a I should. (Don’t even ask me about my nutrition…) Now that I know what the results are like, it is clear I need to get this habit back ASAP.

Family time: Some of my goals were a little aggressive or not in alignment with some of my desires. For example, I know it is important to schedule things, but having a hourly schedule on a weekend/vacation is soooo depressing to me. But if you don’t have some kinda schedule in place, things won’t get done… Clearly I need to find balance here.

Business/Entrepreneurial: sigh I think I just was too scattered.

Looking forward

This coming year I am going to put the Entrepreneurial activities on hold.

I feel the pull of making things and working with my hands. I will follow this for a few months and see where it takes me.

I also feel the need to recapture my curiosity. Earlier in my career I was unstoppable when it came to new technologies and techniques. Over the years I have lost some of that. This is the year to change that.

What will this look like? Here’s some ideas I’m playing around with:

I’m also going to continue hard with the reading habit. It is so fulfilling to read things that inspiring. Contrary to what you might be hearing, this is not the worst time possible. Things are actually pretty good. To see this, you’ve got to look past the negative (And oh my god is there a lot of it out there).

tags: organization, - review