April 2021 Retro

My avatar
Jason Wallace
May 04, 2021 ยท 4 min read

Welcome to my first monthly retrospective. I've wanted to write one for a while now, but I've been blocked by the following thoughts:

  1. I haven't done anything worth talking about.
  2. I didn't want to be a copycat ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚๏ธ

So why now? Well, some things have happened and I want to use this opportunity to work through my thoughts by writing it down. It's a pleasure.

โš ๏ธ Disclaimer If we work together, please don't make any decisions based on what I write here. This is just me working through my thoughts and me reflecting on my past (few) month(s). If my words concern you, let's discuss it.

Main events

  1. I've been doing some freelance dev work again. Since February. This has been great because it's not like other freelance gigs where cost & speed is prioritized, but rather code quality & stability. The client is an ex-Google/ex-Microsoft dev so I'm learning a lot through shear osmosis.
  2. With the feedback & learnings from #1, I've been able to directly implement them in my day-job the very next day. This has been a major "Ah-ha" moment for me because it finally felt as if I found the missing "career growth" puzzle piece to my day-job. See, I'm the most senior dev at my day-job and while it's been great to have complete autonomy, when it comes to making architectural software decisions, it has its downsides. One of which is not being able to learn from more senior devs that are both deeply invested in the codebase and experienced enough to challenge your way of thinking.
  3. This is the bad one. Adding #1 and #2 for an extended period of time resulted in a complete breakdown. I've been burning the candle at both ends with my full-time job during the day and freelancing at night. This was fine in the beginning and I actually thought I finally solved my "lack of fulfillment" issue, but it was not sustainable. One fateful Wednesday afternoon, I ended up calling my (day-job) boss telling him that "I'm not having a good time". This was a big deal for me because I tend to dismiss my personal struggles when I know that I really don't have it as bad as others. But the pain is relative and the fact that it has become an unresolved question in my head "What is wrong with me? Why do I feel this way?" makes it real (to me). Yes I'm privileged, and yes others have it way worse, but fuck this is my personal struggle (no matter how small it might be on a national scale).
  4. As a result of #3, I took 2-weeks off from my day-job to regroup. I'm 1-week in, and I finally feel like I can think again. Think about my career, my future, and my entrepreneurship aspirations.

Last month's goals

I didn't have goals for last month. I just kind of winged it, as I've been doing every other month. I'm not sure how people become successful, but I doubt they do so without timeboxing their goals.

Here are some unplanned achievements instead:

  • Moved my Second Brain to Notion. I've been using Workflowy for a few years while implementing GTD. GTD is awesome and the simplicity of Workflowy is awesome too. But, it always left the unanswered question in my mind of "Where do I write my notes?". Workflowy's bullet-point-everything feels very ephemeral and is not well-suited for long-term storage. This is no reflection of the tool, but rather me trying to shoehorn it into doing something it wasn't built for. Anyway, Notion is very versatile and I spent some time to finally "get it" and I'm happy with the result.

My Second Brain using Notion. My Second Brain using Notion.

  • Moved manual invoicing to Zoho Invoice. I (unofficially) run a one-page website hosting service for local small-businesses. This has been running in the background for 2+ years. Time-wise, it has a high upfront commitment (per client), but a low ongoing commitment and low cash return (is this passive income? ๐Ÿ˜…). Anyway, invoicing was such a dreaded time-suck each month, but I'm happy that it's (mostly) automated now.
  • Bought stock for my new online clothing brand. Lol, that's such a weird sentence to write. This is a joint venture between my mother (a qualified fashion designer), my girlfriend (a digital marketer), and me (a classically trained code monkey).

Next month's goals

  1. Organize a fashion shoot. Again, lol. I somehow need to get a model, a photographer, and makeup artist into a studio and let magic happen. This will be interesting.
  2. Make some big work-related decisions to avoid being knocked out again. I know the current path is not sustainable (long-term). This will probably consist of chats with friends, family, and helpful strangers. But in the end I'll need to answer the following questions and commit:
    1. How do I want to spend my time?
    2. Based on #1, how do I support my family & myself financially?
    3. Based on #1, how will I continue to level up and avoid stagnation?

Thanks for making it this far. If you're interested in what happens next, I'll email it to you next month ๐Ÿ‘‡