Thursday, June 13, 2024

From Layoff to Lifelong Dream: A Year of Personal Projects

In January, I was laid off.

2 weeks ago was my last day at the company and also my last paycheck.

So, with a family to support and no income, what's the plan?

Well... I've decided to dedicate a year to working on projects of my own.

It sounds irresponsible, but it's possible because:

  1. I only need to support myself and my wife (no kids yet)

  2. We have an inexpensive lifestyle

  3. We've saved some money

So, a mix of luck and life choices made this possible.

Is that, like, a sabbatical or something?

Yeah, kind of.

More importantly, it's the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Actually, the "dream" was to be an entrepreneur.

But, as I've aged, I've come to realize that my desire to "be an entrepreneur" was just a wrapper around my ego.

It took a long time to separate out what feeds my soul from what feeds my ego. It's an ongoing struggle.

I've always loved building and creating things. I've always loved solving problems, making others happy, etc.

But, I've always loved feeling admired, too.

I remember sitting in my car years ago, listening to NPR on the radio. (For younger readers, that's kind of like listening to a podcast on Spotify).

The host's interviewing an entrepreneur, who's now leading a billion-dollar enterprise.

And I'm sitting there, in my car, fantasizing about how I'd respond to each question. I'm sitting there fantasizing about how I'd be answering these questions and someone out there's sitting in their car, absorbing every word I say.

And yet:

When I reflect on life, it's the experiences I've had that I cherish. Not moments of being admired.

A couple memories that've made my life worth living:

  • Spending a week with my family during my sister's wedding

  • Talking with a friend on the phone every week for over 3 years (and still going)

  • Hiking 200 kilometers across Japan in 7 days

  • Organizing weekly in-person meetups for people taking an online course in entrepreneurship (and getting to see the incredible things they'd accomplish after)

  • Running a course on interview preparation with a friend (and seeing the participants go on to advance their careers)

Of course, there's joy in reaching milestones or conclusions in these activities.

But, those have no meaning without the journey.

It's the building, the connecting, the overcoming... it's experiencing the journey that's made my life worth living.

These days, I understand that what I really want is the "doing" and not the "being".

I'm very intentional in saying that my plan is to work on projects rather than entrepreneurship.

Of course, I'd love for one of the projects I work on to generate income.

But, my focus is on building, learning, connecting with people, solving problems, delivering happiness.

So, here I am.

Working on my own projects.

In pursuit of fulfillment.

Thank you for the support and encouragement.

It means the world to me!

Monday, February 19, 2024

The tyrany of the evergreen excuse

I'll always remember my high school running coach saying:

"Excuses are like assholes. Everyone's got one and they stink."

We all hate hearing excuses when things don't go as expected.

But, I think some excuses are better than others.

Sometimes, excuses are situational. Things like:

"The reports weren't delivered on time because we had an unexpected system outage."


"I was late for dinner because there was an accident that caused a backup in traffic."

These are single-use products. They apply only to a specific situation at a specific time. Use once and discard.

On the other hand, some excuses are evergreen. For example:

"We weren't able to get the project done on time because it's really complex."


"I didn't exercise today because I didn't have the energy."

Evergreen excuses are re-usable. They never expire. They're always available for use.

When we're accountable to others, evergreen excuses are a quick path to getting fired/breaking up/etc.

When we're accountable to ourselves, they're a quick path to self-loathing. When accountable to ourselves, we make the decision of whether or not to accept our own excuse.

Evergreen excuses give us permission to be lazy.

They're always ready to giving us an easy out. Ready to tell us it's okay that we didn't do the thing we should've done.

They're addictive. Each time we use them, it becomes easier to use them the next time.

We get used to the easy road.

Eventually, taking the easy road is no longer a decision. It's just becomes the road we're on.

That road leads to disappointment.

It's a path that leads away from our dreams.