May 2021 Retro

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Jason Wallace
Jun 13, 2021 ยท 4 min read

Following on from last month's retro, I had some pretty big decisions to make to avoid future burnout (more about that below).

An interesting side effect of commiting to write a monthly retro is that I keep catching myself with the thought "I better do something interesting so that I have something to write about". That thought served me well.

Main events

  1. Soul searching. I spoke to some friends, family, & helpful strangers about my work situation. It was a huge help to get some outside perspective on things. People generally know me as more of a pessimist, so hearing some optimistic takes on the opportunities I have, was a great energy boost. The general sentiment per focus group was:
    1. Family: Worried about finances, but supportive of whatever decision I make.
    2. Friends: Optimistic about my future and reminded me of all the great opportunities I have access to (as software developer).
    3. Helpful strangers: I didn't go too deep on personal issues here, but it did help me gather some information about what a life would look like if I continued along the current career path (i.e. managing devs for someone else + light coding).
  2. I quit my full-time job. This was the hardest thing I've done in a long time. It really is like a breakup. I've been at my current job for 4 years. So breaking things off now felt like I was letting everyone down and that I was not living up to my initial commitment. That might sound a bit dramatic for being "just a job", but to me it was a very serious commitment I made all those years ago. Thankfully the guys I work for are very understanding and accommodating (making this even harder to do ๐Ÿ˜ฉ). Based on the fact-feels-finding exercise of #1, and the following question that plagued my mind:

    Q: If I look back 10 years from now, would I regret my decision?

    If I didn't take this risk now, I would always think "what if". So I quit.

    โš ๏ธ Note This is a very condensed & rationalized version of what actually happened. Let's just say, I had to be sure to stay well hydrated whilst contemplating my final decision ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Last month's goals

  1. Organize a fashion shoot for my ecommerce clothing brand. This was much tricker that I expected. I spent way too many brain-cycles stressing about how I should go about making this happen. Specifically,

    • Should I DIY this thing or hire professionals?
    • Who should I contact first: photographer, studio, or model?
    • How much should I be willing to spend?

    Anyway, you can smell the self-doubt right? My initial idea was to DIY the photoshoot. My girlfriend has a decent camera (Canon EOS M50), my mother (a fashion designer) knows some good-looking clients (to be models), and our apartment has white walls (to use as the backdrop ๐Ÿคฃ). I don't particularly like this plan because I know I'm way over simplifying things and I feel kinda embarrassed being so noob.

    As an alternative, I started contacting professionals. We picked our model from a catalogue, we found a photo studio in town, and I reconnected with a schoolmate doing photography. The issues came when trying to find availability between all 3 parties. It seems you can't schedule a photoshoot without at least 1 month notice. At the time, I didn't know where I was going to be in 1 month, plus the photographer just stopped responding. I ended up not pulling the trigger on any of these options.

    Final grade: ๐Ÿ˜ž

  2. Make some big work-related decisions to avoid being knocked out again.

    Q: How do I want to spend my time?

    Working on my own products & businesses. Even if just partially. I want to explore, discover, and build things on my own terms.

    Q: How do I support my family & myself financially?

    Long-term: My own SaaS products.
    Medium-term: Part-time freelance dev + ecommerce store.
    Short-term: Savings.

    Q: How will I continue to level up and avoid stagnation?

    I think building independent products forces you to keep expanding your circle of competence. The market is unforgiving. If I'm not working on the right thing for my product, it'll die. That means getting okay with sales, marketing, and talking to people.

    Final grade: ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Next month's goals

  1. Decide on the details of the photoshoot (DIY or Pro) and lockdown a damn date.
  2. Facilitate a smooth handover at my day job. My last day is 30 June.

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

โš ๏ธ Spoiler alert I'll be unemployed the next time you hear from me ๐Ÿ˜…