Hi, everyone—the 2013 Annual Review continues! All posts will be open for comments from readers.
In this post: a few thoughts on the world of work.
On general struggles.
As mentioned in the first post on looking back, I had a few general disappointments that overshadowed much of the year.
I know I’m my worst critic, but isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? We should always be looking within, questioning our failures and seeking to improve. I have a restless heart and I’m disenchanted with slow progress.
These days I’m working on things that are built in stages. I’ve experienced a shift in “just get things out of the door” toward projects that require more time, in some cases multi-year efforts. The outcomes aren’t always apparent from the outside, and the fix isn’t always a quick one.
It’s not all bad—the business actually grew during this time. I’ll regroup, as I always do, and make a better plan for 2014.
Lesson: Move on and get back to work!
On starting projects and not scaling well (a recurring theme).
One of my challenges is that I start projects that are fairly ambitious. I charge ahead and work non-stop during the creation stage. I’m still excited to get them started, but then I want to start something else.
Since most of my projects are successful, it’s not a terrible problem to have. Everything works and is fine. But it does create the question of scale.
I hope to fix this tendency, or at least continue to improve it. But mostly, I plan to keep doing. I’m very motivated by making things and have no plans to stop.
Lesson: Fix it or live with it.
On having multiple careers.
At this stage in my career, I could make a living entirely from writing books or entirely from creating small business projects—but I like both activities and don’t want to choose. I don’t have to create new Unconventional Guides or invest in side projects or host additional events. I do these things because I like to, not because I have to.
I like the security of earning income from multiple sources, and I like the ability to mix it up by doing different kinds of work.
Lesson: Stick with the diversification as long as it continues to feel right.
On writing… that thing I’m supposed to do.
Long ago I began the habit of writing 1,000 words a day, a practice that others have adopted and adapted in their own way. It’s good that others have taken it on, but I’ve somewhat fallen behind.
I believe in maintaining a balance of writing and other kinds of work, but this year I think I shifted too far toward the other kinds of work.
Lesson: A writer writes. I want to get back to writing more, so I’ll work to create structure that supports a regular writing practice.
On events (producing and hosting them).
WDS 2013 was fantastic! I feel very fortunate to be part of this gathering. We’ll be doing it again next year and I’m just as excited about it.
When something’s going well, it’s good to ask yourself if there’s any logical extension or addition to it. Every year we spend many months leading up to a global event that lasts less than a week. Inevitably, we learn a lot of lessons each time—how to facilitate engagement with thousands of people, how to balance official activities and independent meetups, how to work with the city, and so on.
But then, after working so hard and learning so much, we have to wait an entire year to do it again. Starting up with a new event, Pioneer Nation, allows our team to work together more cohesively throughout the year.
Of course, that’s not the main reason we decided to create another production that will require hundreds of hours of work. We’re doing it because there’s a clear need for education and community among independent entrepreneurs, and we think we can meet this need.
Lesson: Continuing serving attendees through WDS, and launch the new event well.
On events (traveling to them).
I had fun speaking at various events, organizations, and companies, including SXSW, LeWeb, Frequent Traveler University, Facebook, and a dozen or so $100 Startup stops that were facilitated by reader co-hosts.
Without question, the best part is always meeting with readers and seeing them connect with others. Most of the events and commitments were in the first half of the year. In the second half, I focused on writing a new book and rebuilding the business.
Lesson: Host more meetups! Fortunately, we’ll solve this in 2014 with … 30+ events after my new book comes out.
Legacy can’t just be what we do, it has to be what remains after everything that is temporary fades away. I’m trying to make sure the side projects I take on matter, or at the very least that they don’t take all my attention.
It’s been a strange year overall, but I won’t lose heart. I’ll regroup and be more strategic next year—wait and see. Onwards!
What about you—what did you learn or experience in your work this year?
Feel free to share your own lessons or comments with other readers.
*We’ll be publishing a roundup post of reader blogs before the end of the year. Link to any of the 2013 Annual Review posts, and we’ll share a selection at the end.