The new year is here. While everyone's celebrating what always appears to be an opportunity to start over, I'm furiously plotting my next move, beating myself in the ass for falling short of short-term goals. The turn of the year is a good checkpoint, although, mine is July 31 in memory of my late sister, Renee. Still, since society has a schedule within which Janurary 1 is respected and I'm an active component of society, I'll take some time to set goals and reflect accordingly.
2014 was a hell of a trip.
- I was employed and unemployed not once but twice.
- Let's say my household hasn't been the greatest since Renee was killed.
- I lost a grandparent a few days before Christmas.
- Around Renee's birthday, I received my first ever ticket, and I had to do community service as a result.
- I saw more employment rejections this year than I hoped I'd see. You have no idea.
- I resigned from a promising startup.
- I was sued.
- I gained about 25lbs.
On the other hand, 2014 was a hell of a trip.
- I grew as an engineer, as a problem solver.
- For the first time, I participated in a hackathon as a competitor.
- I met a lot of nice people.
- I deployed a few Django sources I was working on and never experienced deploying, which is pretty cool.
- I grew as a communicator; I stepped away from my computer a lot more, forcing myself to learn how to talk to people as a result.
- My financial prospects became more attractive based on the skill set I developed.
- I developed a better relationship with my family, despite the gnarley emotional rollercoaster we've ridden on a daily basis.
To sum what I just mentioned without getting too personal and more sappy-sounding: Yeah, 2014 was a lot.
What I don't normally find in year-end ultimatums and new-year prospecti is the identification of issues from which goals come about. How can I set a goal without first pointing out an issue I'm having or something that's missing?
I can't. At least, I shouldn't.
Briefly, here are some problems that need fixing and some voids that need filling:
- None of my goals as an entrepreneur were met. I learned very, very little about getting a product to people.
- I didn't launch any of the projects I had in mind during 2013 and 2014. I really wanted to, but not before learning about how other products are launched and maintained. Some (people) with a lot more experience than me said that I should first work somewhere and learn about delivering and focusing on a product. I still agree. The problem is that I didn't learn about that really. I learned much more about being a code monkey and about what it means to be on the bottom of the totem pole. All valuable lessons that lead me nowhere in terms of what I know about getting a good product to people and dealing with the process of having a product out there. I guess the first problem I mentioned ties into this if it's not the same thing.
- I'm not where I want to be financially. I'm better off than I was in 2013, which is great. Still, I'm not financially stable by any means. Between getting hit with a minor lawsuit (school-related) and losing my job twice, I lost a lot of the momentum I was picking up in 2013. Before getting out there professionally, I employed myself, so the latter half of 2013 and the whole of 2014 was a major transitional period for me. I went from worrying about whether I'd have customers/clients to whether I'd have a stable income from a company I'm working for.
- I'm still in student loan debt with no solid approach to eradicating that debt. That's self-explanatory.
- I don't have a solid reputation. Anywhere. Basically, if you were to go to a small or mid-sized community and ask about me, you'll be met with lots of confusion. To me, that's a problem. Back in the early 2000s, I was a part of lots of online forums and if you were to go on a game or log into one of those forums and ask about me, you'd get considerable feedback. That's minor, especially since that was the case when I was between the ages of 11 and 17. However, being identifiable in different circles meant I had a reputation to uphold and related benefits to strive for. In other words, knowing more people and there being more people who knew me made me more productive -- at least, it urged me to be more productive. The hard work in putting my ideas into motion was just another beast, but it was definitely supported by pride, which (mostly) stemmed from my reputation.
- My personal social life is all f--ked up. Really, I don't do anything but work and try to figure out what to do to tear myself and my family from my current degree of poverty. There's absolutely nothing I want to do other than make moves that'll take me to the next level, and my social life is suffering. The only reason I think that's a problem is that after working hard and making money, the only thing left to carry my legacy, really, is the people I leave behind. If I were to die tomorrow, unlike my little sister, I would barely be remembered and I'd have left behind very little for the world to benefit from. That's a red flag to me.
Now, the goals:
1. Finish the unfinished. LAUNCH.
I'm going to launch at least two websites I've put on hold long enough. I've talked about them. I've shown pieces of them. I've asked for others' opinions. I've spent days/months developing them. Enough is enough. It's either I put up or shut up. I have to be a man of my word, especially when it comes to business and solving problems.
The sites, of course, are: AxeHut.com, a place where those who were fired can tell their story and vote on whether others should have been fired.
The other is Polydoo.com, the dead-simple classified ad site the internet is missing.
I have other sites in mind, but the ones I listed have been on hold long enough. They're great ideas and I've put a lot of time into them. There's no excuse for holding them off. I've feared launching because I've focused so much on getting it right, making something that people like. In the process, I've obsessively designed and redesigned. All I've done is hold off from releasing cool solutions to problems I've encountered, as well as kill a lot of my credibility. Plus, the best way to learn is by screwing up and since making mistakes is an inevitability in terms of just about everything new, I should just stop being a bitch.
Doing this should solve my problem of not knowing what to do to make a good product. It'll also help me develop a reputation.
2. Give at least one talk.
I want a better social life. In fact, I think that desire is so strong that I'll consider it a need. I think that my legacy depends on it. How can I ever expect to make it anywhere without having a strong network?
The goal for this year is to give at least one public talk. That should help me out. I'll build better communication skills in preparation of the talk, and I'll probably pick up some new technical skills in the process. I can't give a talk on something I don't know very well, so it'd be a strong lesson in mastery. More importantly, it'll expose me to new people and I'll start to build a level of familiarity in the eyes of at least one community. I think a talk would be a great place to start in doing so.
3. Save $10k more than I saved last year.
I don't see any of the financial obstacles I faced last year stepping onto my path this year. That's not to say that they won't, but the likelihood of that happening seems relatively low. In addition to what I've been saving (barely making it), I'll save at least $10,000 more than I saved last year. It'll take some tightening of my belt, but it'll be worth it. I don't think anything says "peace of mind" the way money does.
If someone dies, I'll have
4. Link up with family and old friends at least 5 times this year.
I don't have a clique and it's very safe to say that I'm not much of a people person. That's a good and bad problem, but I've created this goal because of the bad.
If I link up with family and old friends, people who know a very personal side of me, I'll end up leaving more behind when I'm gone. The people who know the most about me are the most likely to keep my ideas alive. On the same hand, I can spread the ideas of my friends and family after they die, but I have to learn their ideas. In doing so, my ideas will get better.
So, 5 times. I have to do it. I chose 5 as a nice minimum.
5. Blog at least once per week.
This is something I totally neglected and if I practiced it sooner (especially right after talking about it in previous posts), I'd be better off in terms of many things. I'd be more skilled and I'd have probably launched the two sites I mentioned earlier, because the more I write about what I'm doing, the more I want to prove to the world I can practice what I preach.
I'll do at least 1 post a week. Since this is a code blog, I'll try to make it technical.
I have a lot of work to do, but everything I listed is doable. I made sure that all of those goals are quantifiable/objective.
Briefly, here are the 5 main goals for this year:
- At the very least, launch AxeHut.com and Polydoo.com.
- Give at least one talk to a crowd of people.
- Save $10k in addition to last year's saving plan.
- Meet with family and old friends at least 5 times this year.
- Blog at least 1 time per week.
It would be nice if I can purchase an XBox One and two games, but it's not like I'll have time to play with it anyway. Might also be nice to get my driver's license. I'll be 25 in September, but I never needed a driver's license because I've lived in New York City all my life (still do).
There's a list of more minor goals (like losing some weight and taking my girlfriend out more often; personal stuff) my readers won't see, but what I mentioned should sum everything up.
But anyway, good luck on your goals this year.
I miss you, Renee. Dearly. This is all for Renee.