Following the format from James Clear’s webiste, this is my reflection from my previous year.
1. What went well this year?
Being able to get close to the family and friends. This year I managed to travel to Argentina, where most of my family lives, and to Asturias, where one of my brother lives since last year. The last time I visited Argentina was in 2012, traveling with the Mozilla community.
I spent time with all my family and travelled to Tigre with my older and smaller brothers. It is pretty exciting to see your grandmothers again after so many years.
Moved to a Technical Product Manager role. It’s been a year since I officially stopped being a developer. I took the role because I always liked to be in the intersection of business, technology and design. It’s not the first company where I actively helped the PM on various tasks and, thanks to it, I didn’t have the same issues as someone taking the job as their first experience.
So far I’m enjoying it, but with greater responsibility comes more stress. I struggled a little bit with that early on, but now I am managing better (which 90% of the times is reduced to saying “no”).
Learned how to use music production software. In October I completed the Ableton Live course from the Berkley. I had so much fun with it. The possibilities are endless (which is a good and a bad thing). After publishing my first song in Halloween, I stopped with the habit of making music. I bought a book to keep learning, but right know I prioritized the habit of writing. Once I get it back as an habit, I want to go back to music. It’s definitely something that relaxes me a lot and takes me to the zone easily.
Stopped cheating on some habits. I’ve been cheating to myself for a while with the habits of language learning and meditation. I did spend a lot of valuable time with both habits, but once they become kind of boring, I started doing them without taking enough effort to make real progress. Now that I learned more about how habits work and how we react to the progress of them, I understand better what happened. The good side is that I stopped that behaviour and I’m aware of that issues, so I can prevent that from happening again.
Dedicated more meaningful time to my partner. This one was one of my 2018 goals, and although is not easy to measure (because I am referring to meaningful time), I am sure that improved a lot.
Had the badminton habit. Doing sports was not an issue this last year. Thanks to a coworker, I have been part of a badminton group where we play matches twice every week. The key motivator of this habit is that is complies with the 4 keys of good habits:
It’s obvious: every Monday and Thursdays at 19:00
It’s attractive: it’s really fun to play
it’s easy: I started with the basics. Now I’m trying to improve specific parts.
It’s satisfying: the reward of doing sports and feeling relief from stress it’s good enough to be repeated
Moved to a new flat. Changing were we live was the change that had most impact in my life. I have been living with my partner in the city center of Madrid for more than two years. This summer we moved outside of it to a more residential area. Now the flat is almost as twice as big, giving us space and thus a better environment to reinforce or maintain new habits. As an example, Shei has a room where she streams on Twitch. I use another room when working from home. That room is mentally linked with a state of focus, that’s why I also use it when writing or working with Ableton Live.
We also automated other tasks, include the typical efforts of cleaning. The dishwasher and the cleaning robot help a lot. Having a proper kitchen space also helps to improve the habit of cooking healthy meals at home.
2. What didn’t go so well?
Habits. The bad side of the learning that I previously mentioned regarding habits. I struggled to get the journaling habit for more than a month. I also started taking the music production habit as something that I wanted to continue without following the correct system. In a few words, I didn’t manage to get good habits to stick. That being said, I am happy of the reading habit outcome I got, even though this year I’m setting the bar way higher in this iteration of the habit.
Side project. Last year I didn’t publish my second book I started writing. I soft launched a project related with gaming but then realized that there were some blockers making it super difficult to success even initially. I need to think a little bit more about what I want to do, given the effort that a side project takes.
In December I started playing with a prototype of an app related with habits and journaling. Now I need to iterate the concept in order to continue developing it. It feels good because I’m not rushing to finish it as soon as possible, I’m just pushing it a little bit every month. Once I take decision to focus on this project, I will schedule more regular time for it.
Reading. I said that I was happy with my reading habit, but here the point is slightly different. I have been using Blinklist for two years, and it’s definitely a great product. Last year I realized that all the information I consumed with that app wasn’t having the impact I was expecting. It helped me what to read next or to grasp topics I didn’t know much about. I spend a lot of time reading Blinklist summaries instead of book. Probably a better approach is to focus on deep diving into specific books regularly, while going through summaries every now and then.
Finances. I have been using YNAB for a long time, but last year I stopped. I had a lot of stress, so I decided to remove some elements from my routine where I needed to spend time. Turns out it was not a good decision, since it helped me realize that the routine of tracking expenses and properly planning and assigning every € was a good one.
Stopping the planning caused some issues on my finances. I spent more than I should, and that generated more stress. Last December I started a fresh budged on YNAB, and so far it’s going fine, as I’m less stressed that last year.
3. What did I learn?
Managing expectations and deadlines. My new role forced me to improve my capacity to manage my own and other’s expectations. I learned to be -more- pessimistic/conservative when setting deadlines and milestones. I know that things always may go wrong and always take more time than expected (at least 1.5x more), but now I externalize that and communicate with my team to be on the same page.
Leadership. It’s been a wild year at Lang.ai. A lot of pressure and a lot of achievements. I spend every single month trying to improve how to help my team get their best themselves. I learned a lot from mistakes I did, specifically related with communication. In case of doubt, over communicate instead of doing the opposite.
Focus on the essentials. In more general terms and as I recently read somewhere, in times when you are not sure if you are focusing on the correct thing, focus on the essentials: health, love, learning. If you are being healthy, spending time with your loved ones, and continually learning, the other stuff most likely can wait.
In terms of working, focusing on the essentials means spending more time in less things while not losing the focus on your “one thing”. In my case, I spent a lot of time focusing on making our enterprise product stable. I didn’t make sense to add more functionalities if the core product wasn’t good enough.
Protecting my time. This year I learned a lot on how important is to prevent you or others take your time or distract you. It’s not only how productive or how good your Pomodoro technique is working. A day has more hours. I am now more aware of how “busy” I am at the office, while I usually get more deep work done at home. That’s actually another story to be told.
2018 in music
I like to analyze my musical habits and how it evolves from year to year. This year my most-listened artist was Carpenter Brut. I was lucky to see them live in Madrid!
For 2019, I have some intentions that I need to further analyze and iterate. So far I started with the following actions:
Joined a book club in order to read at least 2 books per month. The first one was “Atomic Habits”, and it was great.
Started -again- the habit of journaling, with the help of the app Exist, that prompts me to write and tag my day with push notification.
It’s been a week since I write at least 200 words a day. I do this everyday after dinner (make it obvious), while listening to jazzy music and having a cup of tea (make it satisfying).
As I attempted years before, I want to launch an app. I already worked on it in November, and had some ideas for iterations. As of now, it’s an application to track habits that can also be used for journaling. It might even make sense to sync it with your to-do app and calendar. I’m trying to solve the problems I personally have when making technology help me to stick with habits, as well as to reflect every day.
Let’s enjoy another great year!