Those are the words I just spoke out loud to my wife.
It's 11pm on a Sunday. Tomorrow is a self-imposed deadline for creating this blog; a deadline I gave myself a week to achieve. A very realistic and achievable goal. What happened?
I've been struggling with a serious lack of motivation over the last month or so. As a self-employed developer and budding entrepreneur, this is a killer for productivity and income. I work from home, and the comforts of my family (especially my beautiful toddler daughter who is pure joy) and my favorite video game often overshadow any rational thought such as "You might want to make some money this week. It's been a while." The care-free life of hanging out with family and playing Rocket League is a great immediate feeling, and completely unsustainable for me.
In my weekly call with a friend and mentor last Monday, I gave myself a very realistic and achievable goal to try and give me an easy win to help swing back into a productive groove: launch a personal blog with 2-3 posts. I have wanted a blog outlet for years, and it has come up in our conversations a few times. With some reassurances that it doesn't have to be perfectly and uniquely designed or have doctoral thesis-level content, I felt it was a perfect win-win; I'd have a blog, and something productive to be proud of.
After my call, I felt empowered and confident. I've wanted this. It's easy. I've done far more difficult things in less time. This week wasn't going to be something I'd come to regret.
The work-from-home life is amazing when you can properly balance the two, giving each their proper attention. Since I've been unable to do so lately, I wanted to get out of the house and away from my comfort and distractions. Key word: "wanted".
On Tuesday, my wife was at work which is a good distance from our town and our daughter's daycare. So I stayed close by just in case there was an issue. That was enough to convince me that staying home was okay. (Starbucks is a 3-minute drive away. Other remote work options are even closer to the daycare. Count the excuses with me, folks!) From there, the ability to justify your unproductive habits is just too easy. "It's early in the day, I'll play games for a bit now and write after lunch." You can probably guess how that went.
On Wednesday, I had to take my cat to the vet and do laundry. Ironically, taking my cat to the vet meant getting up earlier than usual. On a day when I'm cleaned up and ready well before I'm usually awake, I managed to get equally little done.
On Thursday, I can't even remember what I did. Pretty sure I slept in to make up for my early alarm the day before. (Did you lose track of the excuses yet?)
On Friday, I finally started real work on some blog post content. I want to review a PHP framework shared to the community. I pulled up its documentation, opened my notepad to write my thoughts and experiences as I went, and set off to see what this framework was all about. It wasn't a smooth experience for various reasons both related and unrelated to the framework, but it was productive! Lots of notes were taken, things were learned, and I felt good to have made progress. "I can keep this up throughout the weekend!" Somehow I always manage to convince myself of this, even though my calendar obviously says otherwise.
On Saturday, we hosted a play date with my daughter's friend from daycare. Then my wife went to work for the evening. Today I had a monthly meetup for a local collector's club I'm in. I have to wake up early, and I always nap in the afternoon after it. Then my wife works in the evening again. All of this was scheduled and known in advance.
(Sighs a defeated sigh.)
"What's wrong?" my wife asks.
"I told myself I would have this blog up tomorrow. I want to finish something now, because there's no reason I shouldn't have been able to achieve this goal. Whatever it takes at this point. Except now the blog posts I have formulated are either small programming tips with no real substance which seems like a cop-out, or are long, complex topics that need further research and likely multiple revisions to complete.
"I have already failed. Why am I wasting my time?"
I silently reflected on those words for a few moments. Then I opened my editor, wrote it down as a title, and began writing this post.
1.5 years ago, I left a fulfilling 9-5 at a local agency after four years. While I hadn't expected to leave at the time, I was excited to possibly try something new and work more in my style. Six months later, I had no professional accomplishments outside of social network discussions and StackOverflow reputation.
I decided to try and build a business. I had an idea for a marketplace specifically for collectors and hobbyists (being a collector myself). After a bit of market research, planning, and a jam-packed month of July (trips, conferences, and other insanity), I started building it.
Now about 9 months later, Nicheket in a relatively MVP form is open to the public. It's still nowhere near where I want it to be, and I believe that makes me hesitant to put it in front of people. I'm not proud of it yet. And I've somehow convinced myself that it probably won't succeed, so why bother working on it?
If you're expecting a miraculous epiphany and the answer to the meaning of life here, too bad. I don't have one. I'm still trying to figure that shit out.
I wrote this post for three reasons:
To share with you. I know there are other people experiencing a similar low point. Trying to figure out what to do next after an unexpected fork in the road, or simply struggling with focus and prioritization. You're not alone. It happens to us all. Let's figure it out together.
To be honest with myself. Writing is cathartic. Sitting down and letting your brain dump out onto the page without thinking is a powerful way to think and reflect on the topics on your mind. I want to acknowledge my failures, make them painfully obvious how my choices are hurting myself and my family, and hold myself accountable.
To satisfy my goal. I wasn't happy with my writing options when I sat down at my computer tonight. Short "tip" posts weren't going to cut it. I'm not the kid who writes his name on the group project without contributing very much. And the framework review and other large ideas I have are complicated, requiring proper time and diligence. Nothing I'm going to accomplish at (glances at watch) 1:49am.
When I heard myself say that I failed and I was wasting my time, I knew a third option had presented itself. And here I am.
My name is Aken Roberts. I'm a wannabe entrepreneur who has lots of ideas and a total lack of execution. I'm going to figure out how not to fuck this all up, and I'm going to share it with you.