Note: The last reflection covered June up to mid-July. This one spans mid-July to mid-August. I’m on vacation for the rest of August, so I’ll be back for my September reflection.
This month was even worse than the last. I regressed further.
Strangely though, it felt like a step in the right direction.
It led to an important realization: I was on track to fail unless I made major changes.
This was the breaking point that I needed. Sometimes, everything has to burn down before you can rebuild.
Now, I have a renewed sense of optimism. It feels like the start of a new chapter: a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Here’s how I’m using the lessons from last month to course-correct.
Health and Happiness
These were my foundational goals for the month:
- Maintain good exercise and health habits.
- Sleep at a consistent time every night. Adopt a no-screen bedtime and wake-up routine.
- Journal, meditate and read for 5 minutes every day.
Here’s how it went.
Nutrition and fitness
I continued to exercise regularly and eat clean.
However, in maximizing my protein intake, I didn’t eat as many greens as I should’ve.
I also didn’t drink enough water throughout the day.
I suspect both of these are contributing to my lack of energy in the afternoon.
Next month, I want to fix both of these.
I didn’t consistently stick to my goal of a screen-free routine.
The few times I did, it felt amazing. I fell into a deep slumber quickly and woke up fresh.
When I neglected it, my sleep suffered. I would twist and turn in bed, unable to fall asleep for a while. As a result, I’d wake up groggy.
This is concerning because it’s a recent problem. Before a few months ago, I could fall asleep on command. Now, I realize it was a superpower that I took for granted.
I’m unsure if it’s due to aging or my bad habits catching up to me, but I need to address this ASAP.
I don’t want my sleep quality to deteriorate even further. It’s a keystone habit with follow-on effects on many other aspects of life, e.g energy and cognition.
If I don’t get it right, the rest of my life suffers.
Reading, Journaling, Meditation
I didn’t read, journal or meditate every day, but they were peppered in throughout the month.
This was a side effect of my bedtime routine inconsistency, since that’s the only time I carved out for them.
That being said, I enjoyed doing each of them and want to continue. I believe it’ll fall into place once I establish a screen-free night routine, so I’m going to kickstart that first.
These were my effectiveness goals for the month:
- Eliminate unproductive distractions, especially during work hours.
- No naps. Do a standing work session after lunch and have tea.
- Build and maintain momentum: give every day my 100%.
- Stick to time allocation - 80% to Habit Gym, 20% to blog (max).
Here’s how it went.
One Last Shot
Before I evaluate my effectiveness, let me give some context.
Habit Gym has been stuck at a plateau for a while, so I’m considering moving on.
But first, I wanted to give it “one last shot”.
I suspect Habit Gym isn’t working because it’s too broad. It holds people accountable to any goal, but it doesn’t offer tailored guidance on how to achieve it.
To make it more targeted, I figured I’d start with a common pain point that most users express: disconnecting from their devices.
Here was my strategy: create free content for distribution, curate it into a lead magnet to collect emails and ultimately build a paid course.
My goal for the month was to do the first two to validate demand. If I got 1,000 emails, that would be sufficient signal to continue investing in it.
Content isn’t for me
Given the nature of my goal, I had to write a lot of content this month.
I chose Twitter because of familiarity, ease of creation and broad distribution.
But I quickly realized content creation wasn’t for me.
It was terrible for my mental health. I became fixated on measuring my views, likes and comments.
This exacerbated my need for validation. That was my reason for quitting social media in the first place, but now I was in the same position as a creator… only with higher stakes.
It also forced me to be someone I’m not. To do well on social media, you have to post clickbaity content, shamelessly self-promote and participate in the popularity contest.
I tried, but it didn’t feel authentic. Maybe there’s a more genuine way and I just haven’t found my true voice yet.
Regardless, I don’t care enough to find it. I realized that I’m more motivated by building products and experiences.
I’d rather share insights from my journey instead of repackaging other people’s ideas. To do that, I have to pursue what’s exciting to me first.
Lesson: Follow your curiosity. Do what’s interesting and authentic to you.
I didn’t just dislike creating content; I dreaded it. So, I avoided it at all costs.
This resistance manifested into procrastination.
To defer dealing with the problem, I resorted to post-lunch naps and my usual distractions: Reddit and YouTube.
Most of all, I used Twitter. Though it was for “valid” reasons like market research or engaging with other creators, it was just a veiled form of procrastination.
Due to my resistance, I didn’t give every day my 100%.
My heart just wasn’t in it.
I’m not too concerned - this was an exceptional case. I won’t have this problem if I’m motivated.
In the future, I’ll be more conscious of the nature of work I take on and make sure it’s exciting to me.
Lesson: Motivation follows excitement.
The silver lining of the last month was realizing the value of prioritization.
It was helpful to focus primarily on my “one last shot”.
I understood how fast you could move when you apply your undivided attention towards a single goal with a deadline.
The timebox is especially important. It simultaneously creates urgency and acts as a checkpoint for reflection.
It forces you to regularly justify your path forward: should you continue or not? When something is dragging on, this question helps you stop the bleeding and course-correct.
The tighter this feedback loop, the more nimble you become.
So far, I’ve done a poor job at this. Too many projects have dragged on for too long.
Going forward, I’ll be disciplined about having fewer priorities and more explicit deadlines. This will help me be decisive about go/no-go decisions and free up mental space to focus on the most important things.
Lesson: Set concrete milestones to evaluate your progress. Move on quickly if things aren’t working.
These were my project goals for the month:
- Habit Gym
- Launch mobile app.
- Define success criteria, scope and deadline for “one last shot”.
- Complete the intern project and pitch it to a distribution partner.
- Blog - rebrand and publish regularly on best effort.
Here’s how it went.
The Android and iOS apps for Habit Gym are published, though a few weeks later than planned.
This reinforced an earlier lesson to plant seeds. Progress takes time. Make sure to kick off workstreams early so they’re ready when you need them.
Lesson: Plant seeds early so you can reap the rewards later.
One Last Shot
I created a lead magnet, but didn’t hit my goal of 1,000 email sign-ups.
This was my sign to move on.
Though I didn’t promote it on all the channels I hoped to, I got the signal I needed from Twitter.
Plus, I was happy dropping it because I didn’t enjoy my place in the value chain (content creation). I see this as a win: I know what I don’t want to do now.
To be clear, I still believe tech addiction is a meaningful problem. I just want to approach it from a different angle next time.
But for the time being, I’m taking a break to build other things.
Could it have worked if I spent more time on it? Sure. Could it also have been a waste of time? Possibly. There’s always opportunity cost.
So, how did I decide which path to take? I listened to my gut. It told me to move on.
When it’s time to come back, I will.
Lesson: Trust your gut.
The app that I wanted to pitch to a distribution partner didn’t get completed.
That’s ok - I’m hitting pause on it for now. I can always pick up where we left off.
It’s high up in the backlog, so I plan to restart it if the two other ideas I have fail.
Lesson: No effort is wasted. When you move the ball forward, you can always pick up from where you left off.
I didn’t work on the blog.
I’m ok with that for the purpose of prioritization, but I do miss writing. In the future, I hope to get to it on weekends.
Next month, I want to focus on fixing my sleep, post-lunch drowsiness and validating two business ideas.
- Health and Happiness
- Eat a daily serving of vegetables and stay hydrated.
- Sleep at a consistent time with a no-screen bedtime routine. Ideally read, journal or meditate then.
- No unproductive distractions, especially Twitter.
- No naps above 15 minutes. After lunch, do a standing work session and have tea.
- Give every day my 100%.
- Validate two business ideas.
- One is a physical goods business where we can compete with an existing product on price. Goal: acquire one customer with high purchase intent.
- One is a software marketplace for a high-ticket service. We believe we can onboard the supply side once we have hot leads. Goal: acquire 5 users on the demand side.
- Work best effort on “weekend” projects.
- Rebrand the blog
- Restart a variation of the podcast
- Improve Habit Gym
- Validate two business ideas.
This post took redacted minutes to write.
P.S: You can find more of my thoughts on Twitter @_suketk.