Archive for the Category Weekly check-ins

 
 

Weekly check-in #8

Just a short check-in this week. It’s even a short intro. Let’s get to it!

The hard stuff

Random stress

Couldn’t I just accept that things are not too bad right now and enjoy the stuff that’s working out well? Seems not, at least not all the time. Note to self: Life Is Pretty Okay. Don’t stress!

The good stuff

Development!

Last week, I wrote about setting goals centered around character development instead of around producing an external result. I picked out persistence as the attribute I wanted to develop, so I decided to spend an hour per day for a week working on a project. The project I picked was to develop a little web app to help me review my new followers on Twitter.

I finished the week successfully (yay!) and the application’s taking shape. The whole thing’s been quite fun, and the hardest part has been coming up with a name for it. My eternal gratitude to anyone who has a suggestion!

As I get further into it, I see that I could take the idea further than I originally anticipated, and I’m coming up with lots of ways to make the project more interesting and to make some money on the side as I go. I have to credit my initial intention for this. My definition of success on this project is to persist – to keep putting in the time even when obstacles come up. If I were purely aiming to make money, I would have been put off as soon as I realised I had competitors.

And all this aside, dev work is fun. I like coding, figuring out how to do new and interesting things. So horray for interesting projects!

That’s it!

Catch you next week! And feel free to join me in the comments. What was the hard and the good in your week?

Weekly check-in #7

This week’s check-in isn’t sliced and diced into good and bad, since there’s a bit of a story to it and everything seems to be a bit of a mix. Enjoy the non-duality. :)

Crazy moments of insight

Ever has one of those wonderful moments of clarity where the Next Step reveals itself? I’ve had two. The first was back in October 2006 during the time I was doing polyphasic sleep. Backstory: For most of my life, I’ve been an acutely fussy eater. Big trouble going out to restaurants, lots of uncomfortableness, anxiety and all-round unhappiness. At this time I was on uni holidays and trying out polyphasic sleep, which means sleeping (well, napping) for 20 minutes every 4 hours. I had heaps of time, but I was barely functional during the nights. Being uni holidays, functionality wasn’t strictly required.

I went for a long walk. I do mean long. I got blisters! When you’re only sleeping 2 hrs total a day, you need something to fill your nights! Ahem. So I went for this walk, at night, and I’d been thinking about personal development (I’d just started to get interested in it), and I realised that if I wanted something to change, this was it. Expanding my diet. It was a moment of clarity where it was really certain for me what I needed to do next, even though I was hella scared of doing it. Three months later it had happened. That was the first moment of insight.

I had another one on Monday. Oddly enough, also walking at night, in roughly the same area. So now I know what to do next, in a pretty broad sense. In some ways I’d love to talk about it more, but it involves sharing a part of my life that I’ve kept pretty private. Needless to say that it’s pretty scary. But after spending so much time not knowing what direction to head in, I’m grateful for any sense of direction, even if it’s a scary one.

Getting a clue about what my Thing is

The Thing. The creative mission, having a purpose, some grand, awesome goal. I’ve been struggling with how to figure it out, and a couple of things have come along recently that have really bumped me in the right direction.

First off, Steve posted about The Joy of Solving Problems. Head over and have a read, I’ll wait. ;) Avoiding problems by withdrawing into simplicity/minimalism? Totally me. This was one of those posts where it seemed like he’d written it just for my situation.

After reading it, the mindset of problem solving as a strength-building exercise (like weight lifting) really clicked for me. It also gelled with the whole journey-not-the-destination mindset. So I wrote out a list of some problems in my life, and over the next few days solved a bunch of them.

Then I got up to a few related problems, all to do with my work, income and long-term direction. So I sat down, listed out what I wanted an ideal solution to look like, then pulled out a bunch of tools for doing it.

It was a little before this time that I read Naomi’s post What Do I Do With My Life? The central questions “What would your perfect world look like? What would be better? What would never happen?” really got me thinking big. Change the world stuff. I’d forgotten that these things were the main reason I got into online business in the first place – having an awesome vision to work towards. I’d gotten caught up in the details (I want to run a business. What’s it going to do? How will it make money?) when I needed to start with the vision. And that vision needed to be bigger than the business that would eventually be a part of it.

A rather insightful comment by Jason on that same post also triggered something for me. He suggested three steps to finding an answer to The Question, but I only needed to read the first one: “Where do you want to contribute to the world (the answer to this probably is already known and scares the shit out of you.)”. I really like the idea that we already know what we want to do, but we’re saying no to it and making excuses because we’re afraid of what saying yes will mean.

I wrote down some ideas, considered them, selected one. So I finally have a thing! By no means will it be simple to get started, let alone make a living off it, so I think I’ll need to ease into it gradually. I’ll do my best to give myself time and space for it to start happening in its own time, and to not rush it.

As a side note, it’s really comforting to know that I’m not the only one working on this stuff. James and Chas have recent posts that both seem to echo the same themes. Finding your thing and actually doing it: a very common problem?

Jobs and joblessness, patience

Easing into this project gradually means I won’t be making money off it any time soon. Which is sad in a way, because it most likely means I’ll have to get a job. Sure, there’s a chance that I’ll get some affiliate marketing going and start earning enough money to support myself, but I think that it’s unlikely.

The interesting thing is, this is not the disaster I would have thought it was not so long ago. I have an idea that I can see myself working on for at least a few years, and I didn’t feel that way about my previous ideas. I can see myself working up to this slowly.

Not always posting weekly, and the whole writing thing

I haven’t always managed to write one of these “weekly” check-in posts every week. Sometimes because I don’t really have much to share, sometimes because I’m not comfortable sharing it, sometimes a bit of both. Often I try to write it and I can’t seem to write anything I’m happy with.

To those of you who write, does it get easier? How do you get in the mood for it? Sometimes I seem to be able to write fluidly, other times there’s just nothing coming. But when I do write something that I’m happy with and post it, I find it really satisfying. Even if it’s just a bunch of stuff that happened in my week, it feels good to have it sorted it out in my head and shared with the world.

Friends

A few times a week for the last few weeks I’ve been hanging out with Luke and Jack in the mornings before they head off to work or uni. Apart from nearly dying of sleep deprivation from getting up at 5:30am a few mornings in a row, this has been awesome. Luke’s working on a 2D platform RTS. If he had a blog I’d totally link to it, but for the moment we’ll have to make do with twitter. He’s just started tweeting again, so drop past and say hi. :)

Since BarCamp, I’ve been hanging out at lots of CTUB and SMC Canberra events. Meeting people in person: awesome. Makes reading tweets so much more meaningful. The fact that a community could spring up around the tools that make the community possible seems kind of obvious, but also amazing. Twitter is like that.

Did I mention that I’m getting a @RohanM twittername shirt? Nerdy? Yes. But awesome? Absolutely. :)

Havi linked to me!

Yay! :) Havi is on my rather short list of heroines and heroes who have a major influence in my life these days, alongside Naomi and Steve. If you’ve come from her site, welcome! Make yourself comfortable and feel free to say Hi in the comments if you’d like to. :)

That’s it from me

How has your week been? Feel free to join my check-in in the comments. :)

Weekly check-in #6

In which I reflect on some hard stuff and good stuff in my week, with the hope of just maybe figuring out where all that time goes to.

The hard stuff

Feeling aimless

I’m not sure whether I’m still adjusting to not working full-time, but I’ve been having real trouble getting motivated this week. I think I’ve realised that quitting my job was only half the battle, and the other half is filling the gap with work that is everything I want it to be (or at least a few of those things). Fulfilling, creative, enjoyable, meaningful, does-good-things-for-the-world, and maybe even pays money so I don’t go broke and insert-disaster-scenario-here. I have a way to go yet. But I think I’m making progress.

The good stuff

Disentangling the new-business-idea-every-week pattern

This pattern has had a long history. I’ve struggled with persistence and commitment for years. If you’ve been following the weekly check-ins, you’ll know that I tend to hop between business ideas pretty frequently. Which is a problem when I just want to settle down, focus, and actually finish something for once.

I’ve been playing around with the approach that Havi shares on The Fluent Self and in her products for investigating where these patterns come from, getting to know why they’re here and finding a resolution for them. I started investigating this pattern by thinking of the cause of my behaviour as a fear. And importantly, thinking of this fear as a self-constructed means of protecting myself from something.

When I looked into it, I found that my fear was trying to protect myself from failure. I have a pretty long string of failed business projects, but I hadn’t realised it was a big deal for me. But even more important than failure was my fear’s mission to protect me from unenjoyable work. If I’m going to fail, I might as well enjoy doing so, right?

I had a chat with my fear, and we agreed that I can’t guarantee success, but I can do a pretty good job of keeping my work enjoyable. So we focused on that bit as the important bit and let the fear-of-failure slide for the moment.

The way this fear is protecting me is by preventing me from committing to an idea and persisting with it unless I make sure the work starts off enjoyable and stays that way. And I think I can manage that. I’ll watch myself and take some time out when I need it to make the work fun again.

It’s early days yet, but I’m hopeful that this pattern is on the mend. I’ve got a much clearer picture now of how it’s operating. Hopefully we’ll be seeing some finished projects in the not too distant future. :)

Little things

There’s a few things that I enjoy pretty frequently, but I don’t often stop to feel thankful for.

I still have a motorbike! And it still works! (even better than when I got it after I got it serviced last week). Oftentimes I’ll arrive somewhere with a bit of a buzz after the ride. It sure beats buying a car or catching busses everywhere.

Running. I haven’t been running as much as I’d like to recently, but when I do I feel so much better for it. I’m not sure why, but while I’m running I seem to be able to organise my thoughts and think much more clearly. I think it might be time to start experimenting with going running at different times of the day (currently I just run in the evenings) to see if I can find a time that I won’t miss.

Writing. It’s great just going through the process of writing this and working on explaining something to someone else instead of just writing to myself. It takes time (the above item took nearly an hour to write and edit), but it’s worth it to sort things out in my head and to actually share them.

That’s all from me!

How was your week? Let us know how you’re going in the comments!

Weekly check-in #5

This is the third time I’ve tried writing this post. It seems that I can’t produce reflection on demand, so to save confusion and embarrassment at all the late posts, the Friday Check-in will now be known as the Weekly Check-in.

The hard stuff

This post doesn’t want to be written

What is with that? Some times I can write fluidly and other times I’m just staring at the screen (or the paper) and the neurons just aren’t firing. *pauses to do some shiva nata*. Ok, I guess sometimes I just won’t be in the mood to write. I can deal with that.

The good stuff

The business idea is evolving!

So before my business idea was to help tiny businesses automate the non-fun parts of their business. That’s ok, but I came up with an idea that’s an even better match for my skills.

Project management

Project management sounds boring, so I definitely need a new name for this one. My aim is to help tiny businesses (the same guys as before) launch a project that’s bigger than anything they’ve done before. Awesome-big, but also scary-big. I’ve had some experience with project management at uni and my brain naturally likes to organise and plan such things. The big thing though is that I love working towards the completion of a grand vision, and if I can help ittybizzes towards theirs, all the better. :)

To start with, I’m offering free half-hour accountability meetings for business owners who are just starting their business. Great practice for me, and I’ll be providing a useful service at the same time.

If this is you (you’re starting a one or two-person business) and you’d like to take me up on the offer, shoot me an email and we’ll work out a time. We’ll have a weekly chat to reflect on the previous week, look at some ways to improve and plan some goals for the following week. If you’re just starting out and you’re not making as much progress as you’d like, this could be just what you need to stay on track and work through any problems that come up.

Quitting my job

I’m not sure whether this one belongs under ‘hard’ or ‘good’, so this might be a bit of a mish-mash. Here goes.

So I quit my job this week. In some ways this is a huge thing (seeing how stuck I was feeling in the job) but for some reason it feels small, like it was just another step I knew I would take. NEIS has made it a whole lot easier, and I’d be panicking right now if I didn’t have the income support as a safety net.

Money is still going to be a challenge though, until I start bringing in some income from the business. Until I do, I’ll be surviving on less than half my current income, backed up by the money I saved since I started the job last July.

This change, and what it will mean, is still settling in. I’m sure that I’ll write about it more as I go.

That’s all for now.

Hope you have a wonderful week! Feel free to tell us about your own week in the comments.

Friday check-in #4

It’s Friday again, and this time I managed to write something on time. Horray!

The hard stuff

One month launch plan goes kaput

So last week I talked about how I was going to launch a business of some sort in the next month. I knew it’d be challenging, even if I stuck to the bare essentials, but I expected my plans to last longer than a week. Luckily they’ve only died because a better plan has come along, but it still sucks to have set a nice clear milestone and then to abandon it. “So what happened?” I hear you asking. Well, read on to find out.

The good stuff

The New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I’ve been wanting to start a business for awhile now. Lately, I’ve been stuck on the quitting-to-work-on-it-full-time bit, since I only have enough savings to last me a few months, and it looked like I would have to find a very generous friend with a spare couch to sleep on until the business got going. If it got going. Maybe I should just cruise along working part-time and get something started first? But that wasn’t very much fun and I was feeling very stuck.

Enter NEIS.

NEIS is a government program that provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a few months training and a year’s allowance and mentoring to develop their small business idea. This is REALLY cool because although I’ll be really poor for a year (the allowance isn’t much) it’s a lot better than living off nothing. The only sucky part is the mound of paperwork I’ll have to wade through, but I think it’ll be worth it :)

This is the discovery that killed the one month launch plan. The program requires that you start an entirely new business, so as far as I know, I won’t be able to begin operation until I’ve finished the 2-3 months of training. Sigh. I’ll just do as much preparation as I can in the meantime.

I feel kinda silly for bashing my head against the wall of “you must be self-sufficient and will my idea work and How Am I Going To Survive?” for so long when NEIS has been available the whole time. I’d even heard about it 6 months ago or so, it just wasn’t at the front of my mind. But I’m aware of it now, and I think the time is right.

Volunteering it up

A whole lot of stuff to do with volunteer work has popped up in my reality recently. I started by thinking about testing my consulting idea by working for free. Steve posted this article on volunteering. Today I helped put up a yurt for the wellbeing and spiritual festival in Queanbeyan, and the person running the yurt business told me the story of how doing a bit of volunteer work lead to the start of his business (and I also had an awesome time helping out). Talk about clues from the universe! Long story short, I’m going to start my business by doing volunteer work for other home businesses. I plan to start out pretty open-ended and just help out in whatever way I can. By doing that for a while I’m sure I’ll develop my skills, meet lots of people and find a good niche to work for. All good :)

Shiva Nata

I got my Shiva Nata DVD this week (warning: wackiness) :D . I’ll do a full review later, but suffice to say the last few weeks have been pretty awesome, at least in a things-are-getting-unstuck kinda way.

And BarCamp is coming up!

BarCampCanberra was one of *the* highlights of last year. For the uninitiated, BarCamp is what happens when you throw a bunch of geeks in a room or two and tell them to self-organise a conference about whatever they happen to think is awesome right now. Highly, highly recommended. I’m planning on presenting this year, so come along to hear me rant about online business, or just to soak up the atmosphere of concentrated geeky awesomeness.

Lots to look forward to!

Have a wonderful weekend and catch you soon!

Friday check-in #3

Being Monday, am I allowed to call this a Friday check-in? I’m afraid someone is going to revoke my right to use the word ‘Friday’. Moving right into it…

The hard stuff

Problems with one-off ideas

I had a surge of energy last week when I realised that I could come up with an idea and test the market for it using keyword research. The idea of creating a product in isolation and marketing it using Google AdWords seemed really appealing since I could pick an idea, develop it quickly and get it out there, and if I wanted to do something completely different next time I’d be able to do that too. But then I realised that I wanted to build something that I would want to work on in the long-term, built for people who I want to hang out with. Not just a short-term project to build, market and leave running.

Not knowing what to do

Once I’d figured out that I wanted to do something that involved a longer-term relationship with people, I was stuck not knowing what to do. I had a few ideas for projects but nothing I was really fired up about. And since I was trying to find a long-term direction, I figured it would be a good idea to figure out what my life purpose was before starting. Every time I try to do this I never seem to get very far, but I still find the idea of having an overriding life purpose to be incredibly alluring. Contemplating it might be fine in small doses, but obsessing over it seems to be a recipe for depression. Feeling stuck and not knowing what to do really sucked.

The good stuff

Inspiration

Eventually I realised that the reason I was having so much trouble figuring out what to do was because I was looking outwards to what the world needed instead of inward to what I wanted to do. There’s an infinite array of things people need, but a much narrower selection of things that people need AND I can do well AND I would enjoy doing. Once I thought of looking for things that I wanted to do myself and sat down to brainstorm some ideas, I had an idea that I really liked within 10 minutes or so, and a bunch of planning for the business done within a few hours. My happiness seems to depend a lot on whether I have a project to pursue that I’m enthusiastic about, so I’m really glad to have something to focus on. :) What’s the idea? I’m working on it, and I’ll announce something when I’m a bit further along. Soon!

The one month launch

Nick Cernis wrote a great article about launching a project with a light-weight plan and a time-frame of one month. I tend to either spend too much time planning a project then not launch it, or pick a project that will take 6 months, minimum, then lose enthusiasm and not launch it. Not Good. Doing a one month launch is restrictive, but in a good way. Web applications are out, since it’s a rare web app that can be built in a month by one person. But services are in, ebooks are in, subscriptions to progressively released content are in. That, and the thought of actually launching something in a month, makes me happy.

Accountability

I’ve started meeting up once a week with Luke of Code Spammer’s Paradise to make plans for the week and hold each other accountable for them. This is so simple, but it completely changes my attitude towards what I’m trying to do. If you’re having trouble staying on track with something, go find an accountability partner. Now! I’ll wait. ;) By Thursday I plan to have settled on an idea for the one month launch and done some market research for it. Horray for targets :)

Teleconferences

I’ve participated in a couple of teleconferences over the last few weeks. They’ve both been awesome, so this is my chance to rave about them a little.

The first is Marketing 101 run by Naomi Dunford from IttyBiz, where I’ve been refreshing the real fundamentals of marketing – USPs, target demographics, features vs. benefits – and also learning a whole bunch of useful ideas to try out once I’ve actually got a business to market (soon!). I was already familiar with the core concepts, but hearing it explained with plenty of real-world examples and Q&A with people really helped to convey the spirit behind the information. The course is mostly finished, but you can still get the recordings of the past sessions (which is how I’ve been listening anyway, to save on international phone bills). The course will be released as a set of recordings, but at a higher price, so if you’re interested, it’s cheaper to jump in now and get the recordings while the course is still running. You can read more about it here.

The second course was the recession busting course run by both Naomi and Havi from Fluent Self. The course is focused towards people looking to beat the recession by starting and running a online home business. I picked up a bunch of ideas from it, but I think the greatest value I get from these courses is from hanging out with people who get online business and self-employment. If you’re kinda interested in this stuff then listening to this course might be a good way to get a taste of it. It’s cheap ($US19) and covers a whole bunch of ideas. It’s not enough to launch a business on, but it does have a whole lot of helpful advice and you get to soak up the way Havi and Naomi think.

That’s it!

I’d wish you an awesome weekend, except it’s already Monday. Oops. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Friday Check-in #2

Ok, so it’s actually Saturday (sssh!). But that doesn’t stop me reflecting on the week…

The hard stuff

Feeling blocked

I’ve been feeling the “procrastinate and find it hard to focus because something isn’t right for me to dive into it” feeling about starting the game dev article series. I spent the first few days of the week really looking forward to my days off work (Thursday and Friday), but when it came to them I didn’t accomplish much. I’ve done a bit of thinking about it, and I think my lack of clarity is caused by mixing the two sources of motivation I wrote about previously. I haven’t been consciously using one or the other, so I’m defaulting to a mix of both. The result is that I feel conflicted instead of motivated. I’ve only just figured this out (horray for insights!), so I’ll have a play with it over the coming week.

The good stuff

The Fluent Self

What’s so great about The Fluent Self? Havi writes about fear and stuckedness, and dealing with it. I didn’t realise how much of an issue this was until I started thinking about doing scary things (ie. job quitting and online-business-making) and getting annoyed at not doing them (see above). Along with IttyBiz, this blog supplies great brain-food for those working towards biggifying something (ok, I’ll stop stealing Havi’s words now).

Talking to Clay

I had a chat to Clay from Finance Your Freedom the other day about how to start an online business that doesn’t fail (like the last four or so I’ve been involved with). He pulled out a key point, the lack of which I think underlies all the failures thus far: do market research and identify a demand before creating a product. In this case, market research == search engine keyword research, and a demand == people searching for something. I’ve had a vague notion I should be doing something like this, but I’ve never gotten into keyword research before. I’m having a go at the first three days of the thirty day challenge to get the hang of it. I’m feeling much more confident of being able to make something that actually gets some interest, and it’s nice to be able to get some instant feedback on ideas instead of committing a month or two (minimum) to building them first.

That’s it for this week!

Hopefully I’ll have some Real Live Actual progress to share next week. Catch you then!

Friday Check-in #1

Over at The Fluent Self, Havi has a weekly check-in ritual to reflect on the week. I’ve decided to borrow this ritual (thanks Havi!) and see if I can’t gain a bit of perspective. Ready? Here we go…

The hard stuff

Losing momentum

The last week’s been full of planning but not so much doing. But first, maybe it’d be good to take a look at what I’m planning. I’ve come up with five “projects” that I’d like to put some time into:

  • BotLand: A web-based not-quite-realtime strategy game with awesome tweakability.
  • Game dev blog articles: A series of blog articles where I write about my attempts to develop Botland the Right Way. Best practices, agile methods, and tips from the trenches. That kind of thing.
  • Game dev consulting: Where I help game developers (who are probably part of a startup) to adopt said best practices and bring their out-of-control projects a little more under control.
  • EEEBot: Makin it. I need to buy some parts first though. Anyone know where I can source a 74HC32N, L293E and 74HC00N IC for the motor controller?
  • This blog post! And the next, and the next (every week).

I haven’t actually made much progress on them this week, but on the other hand it’s pretty awesome having the list, and I’m feeling ready to get going :) That actually sounds pretty good, so what’s the hard bit? I work Monday to Wednesday at the moment, and having those three days away from this stuff takes its toll on my momentum.

The good stuff

Bike!

I got my bike today! It’s a 1998 Kawasaki GPX 250, and it looks something like this. Oh man it’s fun. I’ve been in the process of getting one for over a month, but I didn’t know how fun it would be until I rode on the back of David‘s bike to inspect the one I ended up buying. That was my first time on a bike going > 25k/h, and he has a Suzuki GS500, which is a fair bit more powerful than mine :D Anyway… conclusion: Awesome.

Aikido

The Aikido beginners course starts for the year this week at ANU. I’ve been heading over to ANU before work for a few days to put up posters and help at the market day stall. Our strategy was to play videos on my laptop, then capture people as they stopped to watch the video. Very effective ;) If you’re interested in learning a martial art and you’ve got Tuesday and/or Sunday evenings free, I highly recommend joining up for the Aiki-kai beginners course at ANU. It’s awesome fun and cheap too (only $90 for the whole semester). Here, watch a video to see what it looks like ;)

Tidying my mind, tidying my room

I meditate pretty much daily. I vary the technique I use (eg. watching the breath, visualisations, etc) and I also have quite a variation in the “quality” of the meditation. Sometimes I’ll feel quite peaceful, other times I’ll be really distracted and unfocused. I find when I have a particularly peaceful meditation, I’ll often go on a tidying binge afterwards, and that happened this week :) I cleaned up a bunch of stuff lying around my room, then got through about 50 emails, then did a bunch of small things I’d wanted to do for awhile. Now I have a bit more mental and physical space to work in again :)

This blog post

I feel a bit clearer and more motivated having written it. Yay :)

And that’s it!

Catch you next week, if not sooner :)