Alternatively titled: In which Joel screws up for 365 days straight.
Well I f**ked up.
Usually when I do the annual review I focus on what went well and what didn’t.
Things are a bit different this year.
2018 – not a lot went well.
About 4 months into the year, my entire life blew up and I had to rebuild everything from scratch.
Instead of doing that – I just nicked off for the rest of the year. Don’t get me wrong – I still had plenty of adventures and travel (Spain, Amsterdam, Thailand, Iceland, Denmark to name a few).
But they were fun, they weren’t productive. And they might have helped deal with all the other stuff going on in my life, they weren’t necessarily helping fix anything.
So, not a lot went well (more details below), but before I’m a bit of a downer, there’s a few highlights I should point out.
Things That Went Well
Growing The Meal Plans Biz
We launched Paleo Meal Plans 2.0.
It’s the best meal planner on the market. We expanded the offerings to AIP meals and have Keto meals coming soon. I’m building a team and I’ve gotten way more help with the business. We also have an awesome feature where you can one-click order all your ingredients for your weekly meals to your door – which I think is pretty awesome.
I am pushing myself to become a better business owner in ways I’ve never tried before. We’ve pushing another new software update coming in a month and a new name as well. Shh 🤫
Get More Help
I’ve built a team of 3+ full time people at the paleo business and built out IMPOSSIBLE to be more robust instead of just depending on myself. It’s been fun to see the team interact and get stuff done without me and realize that I might not be as important as I like to think :).
Get a Permanent Base
One of my goals this year was to get a permanent base.
I moved to Austin on December 31st – barely squeaking in there – for once and for all validating that Joel lives by Parkinson’s Law.
I’m not 100% sold on Austin. I’m a bit concerned we’ve hit “peak Austin”, but it’s a great base for the business, a good hub for friends and relatively cheap enough that I can still focus on re-investing in the business and travel when I want to without feeling tied to a prohibitively expensive lease.
So I didn’t actually do a good job of being consistent with this, but the one that I did, I really enjoyed.
I went to Tulum at the end of Q1 last year and it was one for he best things I’ve done. I went without my phone for a few days (and that was probably one of the other best things I did). Once my life blew up, I stopped doing these, but I want to get back to scheduling this + it should be easier now that I actually have a base since “going somewhere” will be a break from my day-to-day-life instead of my every-day life.
The IMPOSSIBLE Podcast
I published about 31 episodes since re-launching the podcast last year. Not perfect, but I’ve really, really enjoyed the podcast. I do have a weird thing that happens where I really, really like doing the interviews and then have a strong aversion to actually doing the intros and outros for the podcast.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but that has delayed more than one episode so far this year.
That said – I’m continuing to set up a systems here that prevent me from sabotaging myself and am really excited for some of the guests I have coming up in the next year.
Got someone you think I should interview? Let me know.
What Didn’t Go Well?
Basically everything else.
I alluded to in the view that this was the year of Joel eating it.
After May – I didn’t really do much for my own personal goals. I focused on helping out some other people around me, but that was more of a coping mechanism than it was because I was feeling particularly charitable.
That said – reflecting back on the year – it’s been a good wakeup call.
In order to change you often to have a stark conversation with yourself about a few different things you were wrong about.
Instead of focusing on “what went wrong” this year – which feels like a second-order effect, I wanted to focus on a slightly different question:
“What am I wrong about”
In other words – what are my ways of operating that are not currently getting me the results I want.
When I focused on that question, a few answers came back to me:
- Being mobile constantly is not a good move.
- I set up too many goals with too large of space in between.
- Too many projects are Joel-centric
- The goals are non-falsifiable. They’re mushy.
And don’t you worry – I’m sure there are many, many more. Let’s break them down.
Constantly Moving Is NOT a Good Strategy
I am officially tired of travel (for now). That said, I do not plan to stop traveling (I have to keep telling myself this this make it all okay), but I do plan to stop traveling for a while – that is at least a quarter.
The amount of mental energy I was spending booking flights, hotels, airbnbs and getting setup in each location just to re-pack my things and do it all over again was incredibly tiring and unproductive.
Even the times where I was traveling and stayed a place for 4-8 weeks, I noticed an exponential change in productivity and output.
So, constantly being on the move isn’t a good idea.
So I need to try something different. To fix that, I’ve signed a year lease (I haven’t had a lease in over 2.5 years, and while I’ve stayed places more than a year, I’m not actually sure I’ve even ever signed a full-year-lease term in my adult life).
My goal going forward – always have a base – even if I’m traveling – have a base to come back to. Constantly being on the go has been too hectic, too disorganized and too annoying to keep being a go-to issue.
Too Many Goals, Not Enough Markers
Whatever I did last year.
Didn’t work. One of the major problems upon reflection is that – they were too many, too big goals that didn’t have enough clear objective markers on the way (more on that in a second).
Because of that, it was really easy to get off-road with these early on and then be completely derailed.
That didn’t work. I didn’t just get a percentage of them done.
I got most of them – not done.
This is one of the things I began to fix in 2018. If there’s one thing I think I did well this year it was up-level the paleo nutrition company across the board, build out a team and start making it more sustainable from an ownership standpoint.
The problem I realized is that as I re-built that business – I came to the realization that that is how I build all my businesses.
Basically, it’s a bad habit that came from bootstrapping where I build out each piece of the business as someone who reports to Joel. As this grows, there’s more and more peopele that all report to Joel.
This ends up with there being a million people reporting to Joel and Joel being the choke point. Multiply this by 3 businesses and it gets messy. And – did I mention Joel wasn’t effective this year?
I like to think that I’ve gotten the meal plans business ” to about 80% here. Crosses fingers
Next goal: MoveWell by end of Q1
IMPOSSIBLE: End of Q2
Too Many Non-Falsifiable Goals
I am stealing this from Taylor’s course (which I’m going through right now), but a lot of my goals last year sucked.
They’re aspirational, but mushy. There’s no clear statement of success.
I’m working on making goals more “yes/no.” The quarterly retreats one is a rare good example of how I set this up. In this case, I was 1/4. That’s a mediocre batting percentage, horrible free-throw percentage and an even worse goal completion ratio. Still, at least I’m able to create a ratio because the number exists.
In general – I am realizing that many of the things I have been in the habit of lately – are not working. They are habits, but they are bad habits and not conducive to what I want, what I’m building or who I am.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that I can change them, I am changing them I am already doing things to move that direction
I am also questioning the value of doing some of this reflecting in public. I am not sold that it needs to be public – some of this is more personal than I’d like to share, but at the same time – I think it’s pretty terrible when people use their public facing persona to share things publicly that go well, but then keep the hard stuff hidden.
If I’m going to stop sharing publicly, I’d rather do it on an “up” year. Climb a mountain and tell no one, right?
I’ve got a few goals for this upcoming year, but most of them revolve around fixing the habits + mental models I listed above. That’s coming up.