Under the Radar

182: Ambitions, Goals, and Themes


00:00:00   Welcome to Under the Radar, a show about independent iOS app development.

00:00:04   I'm Marco Arment. And I'm David Smith. Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes,

00:00:08   so let's get started. It is 2020. Happy New Year, everybody.

00:00:12   It is 2020. It is a new decade, a new year. It's a really

00:00:16   cool sounding year. I don't know about you, but I remember when I was in

00:00:20   high school or whatever. It was always like 2020 was one of those years that was

00:00:24   like the off... It basically was the shortcut for like off in the future

00:00:28   but not impossibly far in the future. Yeah.

00:00:32   I remember having to write essays in English where it was like, "Where will I be in 2020?"

00:00:36   Flying cars is always what everybody thinks, right? Sure.

00:00:40   Flying cars and... It's always the Jetsons, which I think is kind of funny.

00:00:44   Because the Jetsons are really old at this point in some ways. Anyway, here we are.

00:00:48   We are in 2020 and it is the beginning of the year. And while I'm

00:00:52   not someone who particularly gets into kind of like the New Year's resolutions

00:00:56   or that side of things, I think there are many aspects

00:01:00   of the start of a new year that make it a useful

00:01:04   time to kind of evaluate, think about our direction

00:01:08   for the year and kind of where we want to go. And often this is

00:01:12   useful from the more like the business-y side. Because I think most businesses tend

00:01:16   to run their kind of financial year, January to December.

00:01:20   And so if that's you, then it certainly is a time of year when you're kind of

00:01:24   wrapping up your books from the previous year, probably starting to do some tax planning

00:01:28   and stuff, and then kind of forecasting into the

00:01:32   next year. But resolutions and that kind of stuff I think can get a little bit

00:01:36   squishy, just mostly because it's like if you're trying to make a substantial

00:01:40   change in your life or habits purely based on the changing calendar.

00:01:44   Like that's a pretty weak thing.

00:01:48   That's actually going to affect meaningful change. Usually in my experience it's more of a question

00:01:52   of finding something that you are excited about, interested in, and making sort of

00:01:56   small steps towards it on an iterative basis,

00:02:00   which is where I think not necessarily resolutions, but

00:02:04   thinking about the year and thinking thoughtfully about the things that you would like to change.

00:02:08   Like from where you are now to where you're going to be,

00:02:12   what are the things that you would like to see? And a year is a useful time

00:02:16   horizon, but it isn't the only time horizon. And so when I start to think about this

00:02:20   and preparation for the show, what I came up with is I think anytime you start to think

00:02:24   of anything kind of vague and business-y, of course the first thing you have to do is you need to

00:02:28   make a quadrant graph where you have two axes and you define your problem

00:02:32   into four areas. That's business 101. Always need a quadrant graph. If you don't have a quadrant

00:02:36   graph, you're not even trying. So the quadrant graph I came

00:02:40   up with was for this kind of like planful thinking

00:02:44   is the specificity of your sort of the change or your goal

00:02:48   on one axis and then sort of the time horizon on the other.

00:02:52   And if you think about your planning in those

00:02:56   categories, you kind of end up with four general categories. And I'm going to call

00:03:00   these ambition, which are long-term, less

00:03:04   specific things that you're hoping for.

00:03:08   You have long-term goals, which are long-term and more specific.

00:03:12   You have short-term goals, which are short-term, more specific. And you

00:03:16   have themes, which are short-term and less specific. And

00:03:20   I think that kind of framing is useful

00:03:24   for me as I try and think about, you know, there are different things that you might want

00:03:28   and different changes you might want to effect. And determining kind of which

00:03:32   of those four buckets that want or that desire falls

00:03:36   into is useful both in understanding it, understanding if it's

00:03:40   realistic, understanding how to accomplish it, and understanding just

00:03:44   where it's coming from in you. Because the way you go about

00:03:48   kind of effecting something that is this long-term, unspecific, vague

00:03:52   ambition is going to be very different than something that's a short-term goal. That maybe is something very

00:03:56   measurable and specific. And like you have a revenue target that you want to hit at a particular

00:04:00   point in the year, and that's like a very short-term specific thing.

00:04:04   At least if you're taking the same approach to both of those two things, you're

00:04:08   probably doing it wrong. And you're probably going to be frustrated by the outcome

00:04:12   that you will end up with as a result.

00:04:16   Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, I've listened to a lot of smart discussion about

00:04:20   New Year's planning and resolutions and themes

00:04:24   and goals from two main podcasts,

00:04:28   the Cortex podcast here on Real AFM, where

00:04:32   Mike and Gray talk a lot about themes, having annual themes.

00:04:36   And in fact, you should go listen, like, they just did their theme episode, and they have a whole thing around it.

00:04:40   So that's a big thing where I like the idea of the

00:04:44   theme being this kind of long-term

00:04:48   guiding principle kind of thing. And then over on the Back to Work podcast on 5x5,

00:04:52   Merlin has talked extensively about

00:04:56   New Year's resolutions being basically problematic and

00:05:00   tricky, and it's hard to make

00:05:04   a meaningful change like a light switch, where you just all of a sudden you are

00:05:08   going to become a different person overnight. You're probably going to fail

00:05:12   at that, and so having longer term and more general and more

00:05:16   achievable goals is usually more productive. And that's kind of how I

00:05:20   run my own internal goal system

00:05:24   as well. I go for longer term

00:05:28   incremental progress, basically.

00:05:32   And of course, long term, it means very different things to different people. Long term

00:05:36   can be where you're going to be in 2020 when we're in high school, and that's like

00:05:40   20 years in the future is long term, or long term could be

00:05:44   a year, versus, you know, some people might want to be planning on

00:05:48   a monthly basis or a quarterly basis. Long term can mean different things to you,

00:05:52   but I think certainly giving yourself enough time to affect the change

00:05:56   you're hoping for is definitely a constructive way to

00:06:00   start, that you're not going to affect instantaneous change

00:06:04   just by a quick change. It's more likely going to be something

00:06:08   that is going to take time to develop, to establish,

00:06:12   and just to actually be something. If you could make

00:06:16   a meaningful change instantaneously, by all means, go for it, do it.

00:06:20   More likely that's not actually the case. If it was that easy, then

00:06:24   everyone would do it, but it is much more likely to be something that will take

00:06:28   steps that you're moving. It makes me think in some ways

00:06:32   of navigating, rather than planning,

00:06:36   necessarily, where it's like you're heading in a direction, and at each point

00:06:40   you have to evaluate where you are and where you want to go, and what's the next step

00:06:44   you need to take to move towards your goal.

00:06:48   And you're sort of navigating as you go along, you'll encounter things that

00:06:52   maybe you didn't expect, or things that help your journey or hinder your journey,

00:06:56   but at each point you're just kind of working out where your next step is to go.

00:07:00   And the purpose of having an ambition or a long-term goal or a theme or a

00:07:04   short-term goal in all of them is it's helping you have a sense of direction

00:07:08   for where your next step should be, and it's like which horizon you're looking at.

00:07:12   You're trying to get to the next hill, or you're trying to get all the way to that mountain

00:07:16   over there, far away. In each case, there's

00:07:20   a useful information you're giving yourself by going through the process

00:07:24   and thinking about this, so that you have a sense of direction.

00:07:28   Otherwise, you're just sort of standing in an empty field, and you're just like, "I don't know

00:07:32   which way to go." And that's just not going to be nearly as productive

00:07:36   as having at least some general sense of direction.

00:07:40   So, the first kind of these ones that I think is useful to dive

00:07:44   into a bit more specifically is what I call ambitions, and these are the long-term,

00:07:48   less specific directions that you're trying to head. And this is a general

00:07:52   direction over a long time, and I feel like when I think about ambitions, I think

00:07:56   about things, the sentences that might start, "I want to be," "I want to have,"

00:08:00   "Maybe one day in the future." It's this very kind of general

00:08:04   thing, and for some people that might be relevant to our podcast, it's

00:08:08   like, "Someday, I want to be an indie." Like, "I want to be an independent app developer,

00:08:12   maybe." That feels very much like an ambition. That is this kind of

00:08:16   long-term kind of squishy, like exactly what that means, exactly what that looks

00:08:20   like. It is something that is

00:08:24   often the distance, potentially, and is something that is useful as

00:08:28   kind of getting you motivated often. It's often a kind of a nice,

00:08:32   fun, exciting version of something, rather than when you get into the

00:08:36   specifics and the short-term planning and what next step do I have to take.

00:08:40   It can spoil it a little bit and be less fun, but

00:08:44   that's kind of the utility, I think, of an ambition. But I think

00:08:48   it's also, there's kind of, in my experience, and this is speaking for my own life,

00:08:52   there's two different kinds of ambitions that I find myself having. There's a comforting

00:08:56   ambition, and then there's an actual actionable ambition.

00:09:00   And a comforting ambition is essentially just like hopes. These are like the

00:09:04   warm, fuzzy, like the things I tell myself to make myself feel better,

00:09:08   that are kind of, they're not actually specific, or

00:09:12   they're not actually actionable. They're just like these things that I want to,

00:09:16   the classic would be like, "I want to be a good person. I want to be a

00:09:20   good father." These are very,

00:09:24   as an ambition, that's great. They're useful, but they're less actually

00:09:28   concrete. And you can certainly turn

00:09:32   them one way or the other. It depends on how you interpret it personally, but an

00:09:36   active ambition is something that you'd be able to point to specific steps

00:09:40   and actions that you are taking on a regular basis to make

00:09:44   something a reality. And I bring that distinction primarily for

00:09:48   the ambition, say, of being an indie, if you want to be an indie developer. I've

00:09:52   spoken to many people over the years who say that as an ambition, that, "Oh, one day

00:09:56   I'd love to be an independent developer." But I think they say that primarily

00:10:00   as, it's because there's a comfort in it, that it's like this thing

00:10:04   kind of vaguely off in the distance, that they don't actually want

00:10:08   the actual work or the process of getting there. They just love imagining

00:10:12   themselves in that outcome, and kind of skip over the

00:10:16   awkward, nasty parts of the process of getting there and what it actually would entail, and just

00:10:20   focus on the nice, warm, fuzzy parts that are great. And if that's where you

00:10:24   are, and that's useful for you, and it's comforting, and that's a great hope, awesome.

00:10:28   But I think it's important to recognize it for what it is, versus if it's

00:10:32   something that is more specific. I want to be an independent developer, and for that, that means to you, okay, what steps

00:10:36   am I going to take to get there? That is an active, useful ambition

00:10:40   that is providing direction to your work, to your efforts, and to what you're working

00:10:44   on. And so, being aware of kind of what kind of ambition your ambition is,

00:10:48   I think is a useful thing, just to be honest with yourself.

00:10:52   Yeah, and also, to be able to break it down into steps, to be like, alright, well,

00:10:56   my ambition is I want to be an indie developer. Right now, I have zero

00:11:00   apps in the store, zero apps in progress, and I'm working for somebody else. Okay, so

00:11:04   how do you get from here to there? If you just keep telling yourself, this year

00:11:08   I'm going to become an indie, and that's the only specificity you ever

00:11:12   really get, that's going to be hard to achieve from where you are.

00:11:16   What you need to do is break it down and be like, alright, well, today, like, how am I

00:11:20   going to today or this week get closer

00:11:24   to being an indie? And you got to start small, like if you're

00:11:28   starting from nothing, you got to be like, alright, well, do I have an app yet that I want

00:11:32   to sell or make money from independently? If not, like, do

00:11:36   I have any ideas? Let's explore the market. Let's, and, you know, so,

00:11:40   step one might be start writing an app.

00:11:44   And that's a big step, but, like, that's how you start. You don't

00:11:48   become an indie by trying to will it into being for three years.

00:11:52   You become an indie by doing the work, and doing the work starts with

00:11:56   starting an app, and, you know, you got to be able to break it down into stuff

00:12:00   like that. And then the other thing I would say is, like, for the ambition area,

00:12:04   make sure that what you

00:12:08   make sure that what you're going for is something you actually want.

00:12:12   Like, what is being an indie developer? Yeah, it's, you know,

00:12:16   making money on your own and not having a boss, but it's also

00:12:20   taking on a lot of risk, working from home, probably,

00:12:24   maybe making less money at first, having to do your own health insurance, and stuff

00:12:28   like that, and you're going to be making different amounts of money.

00:12:32   And that's what you're going to be doing. And then, like,

00:12:36   you're going to be making different amounts of money at different times, and it's going to be

00:12:40   kind of uncontrollable and uneven, and, like, there's a lot of uncertainty

00:12:44   and stress and risk involved. You have to do your own, like, tax

00:12:48   stuff. Like, there's a lot of other stuff that goes along with that, and so, like,

00:12:52   if you are setting an ambition, it's useful to think through, like, what's the day-to-day reality

00:12:56   of that? What are the downsides of that? What are the things, like, you know, talk to people who

00:13:00   have that or who do that or listen to their podcast and listen to, like, what are the

00:13:04   problems they face every day and decide, like, is that something I actually want

00:13:08   to be working towards? Or are there things about that that I'm probably

00:13:12   going to hate, and should I actually be rethinking what I'm going for?

00:13:16   Yeah, it's like, make sure you actually want it and you don't just like the idealized version of whatever it is

00:13:20   that you're imagining. Like, it's so easy to, it's like,

00:13:24   to see the, to want the outcome without the process, I think,

00:13:28   is the way that I've encountered myself, having that kind of thinking many times, that, like,

00:13:32   you want the outcome but not the process. And it's like, you have to make sure that, A, you want the process, and then

00:13:36   B, that you actually would like the outcome that that process would lead to. That it isn't just something

00:13:40   you think would be nice because it worked for someone else. Just because

00:13:44   it worked for someone else doesn't mean it worked for you. Like, it's not necessarily, like, being an indie, I would

00:13:48   not say is, like, the best, it's the best way to make a living.

00:13:52   I would say it works well for me, and clearly it seems to work well for you, but

00:13:56   it doesn't seem necessarily, like, don't try and take someone else's dream just because it works for them.

00:14:00   Like, actually be thoughtful about what do you enjoy about where you are,

00:14:04   what do you think you would enjoy about something that was different.

00:14:08   And keep in mind, too, like, you are seeing someone else's front

00:14:12   of stage or on stage, and you're not seeing all the backstage, like, to steal another thing from

00:14:16   Merlin, like, it, you are seeing only what people present to the world.

00:14:20   There might be hidden difficulties or challenges, and there's a whole bunch of other people who

00:14:24   try something and don't achieve that level of success, and you never hear from them, right?

00:14:28   So, like, all that to consider, yeah, like, there's one of these areas, like, I decided recently

00:14:32   that I'm done trying to be a video maker. Like, I thought for the

00:14:36   last, like, couple years, I want to get into YouTube and build up an audience there, that's where all the people

00:14:40   are, and that's where I should be, and I recently decided, like, I actually

00:14:44   hate doing that. Like, I tried it a couple times, and I hated

00:14:48   every part of it, and I just, it's not for me at all.

00:14:52   I don't want to put in the work to get there, and even if I had a big audience

00:14:56   there, I wouldn't want to put in the work to keep that going. Like, even if

00:15:00   I had achieved it, the, just the work of keeping it going is

00:15:04   not something I'm interested in doing anymore, and so I decided, like,

00:15:08   that's an ambition that I can just cross off that, you know what, I started going on the road,

00:15:12   hated it, and it's not for me. -Exactly. -We are sponsored this week

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00:16:56   So you have your ambition, hopefully you've kind of worked it out

00:17:00   that it's actually something you want. I think you were alluding to this earlier Marco, but like

00:17:04   the next step is obviously to turn that into something actionable. And this is

00:17:08   I think where sort of on the axis of specificity you take something that is

00:17:12   less specific and you turn it into something more specific. And this

00:17:16   can either be a short term goal or a long term goal. Mostly in my experience

00:17:20   long term goals are mostly just kind of ambitions in fancy dress.

00:17:24   The difficulty of having a long term thing that you're

00:17:28   trying to make specific action towards is that you don't have the information

00:17:32   you will have in the future. You can't predict how the market's going to

00:17:36   change, how you're going to change, how your lifestyle or the world is going to change.

00:17:40   Having this long term thing that you're trying to be specific about gets very

00:17:44   difficult very quickly. And so in general I would say don't worry

00:17:48   too much about long term goals. Have short term goals

00:17:52   and themes, that can be a useful way to head towards an ambition. But don't

00:17:56   worry too much about a long term goal. Worry about something that you can

00:18:00   directly affect and change. Because a short term goal I think

00:18:04   is something that can be useful and be something that is concrete

00:18:08   and mostly just is helping you have something that's tangible

00:18:12   that you can be working towards. And the best kinds of goals are things

00:18:16   that you have control over. That aren't things that

00:18:20   will rely on other people and their result.

00:18:24   And what comes to mind with that is you can, having a goal be

00:18:28   you want an app that makes $100,000 a year.

00:18:32   That is kind of a terrible goal because it is entirely reliant on

00:18:36   things that you don't control because you need an audience to like

00:18:40   your app, to respond well to it, etc. That is a desired

00:18:44   outcome that might come from a goal, but

00:18:48   having that be your goal is probably not the best way to go. A good goal

00:18:52   would be to ship a new app, ship two apps,

00:18:56   explore an idea that you have, make something. These are things that you can actually

00:19:00   specifically work towards and you are in control

00:19:04   of whether it's going to happen or not, whether you'll meet that goal. And that is

00:19:08   a useful thing to differentiate between. Because if you don't control it, it's kind of a lame

00:19:12   goal. You can have those outcomes, and those outcomes are great as motivation

00:19:16   or as things that you are working towards and can be

00:19:20   motivational tools. Like, "Oh, I want to make an app,

00:19:24   and my hope is that it will have this desired outcome." Excellent.

00:19:28   But as an actual specific goal, focus on

00:19:32   something that you can control. That it doesn't depend on anyone else, and

00:19:36   while that can be sometimes honestly a little bit scary, because when you're

00:19:40   the only one who can blame for whether you meet your goal or not,

00:19:44   in my experience, that is the best way to have short-term goals. These are something very specific

00:19:48   that you're working towards, that you're in control of, and if you're in control of it, then

00:19:52   you are empowered to actually make it happen. And that is the best place to

00:19:56   start. And if it's something that you actually care about, that you're actually motivated towards, then you'll actually

00:20:00   in my experience, you can make progress to it. Because if you have a good ambition

00:20:04   and it's a motivating thing for you, and you can pick a next

00:20:08   step towards that ambition, you can make that happen.

00:20:12   There's very few things that, in my experience, that are just completely

00:20:16   impossible in that way. If you're being reasonable with yourself and your own ability

00:20:20   and resources and where you are, you can do it.

00:20:24   And pick something that's reasonable for you, pick a step that's appropriate for you.

00:20:28   In some ways that might just be, "Learn something."

00:20:32   It might be, "Develop a prototype." You can make the

00:20:36   goal smaller. It doesn't necessarily have to be big and grand. In many ways,

00:20:40   the best goals are something that is attainable within

00:20:44   a couple of weeks, I would say. It's something that you could realistically

00:20:48   accomplish in that period, because beyond that, it starts to feel

00:20:52   less specific and starts to feel more long-term, where it starts

00:20:56   to become more of an ambition, because it's losing its specificity

00:21:00   and its immediacy. Right, and if you have goals that

00:21:04   take longer than that, break them down into subtasks, basically, that you can accomplish on

00:21:08   shorter time horizons, because that way it keeps you from procrastinating

00:21:12   forever and never really doing it. Yeah, and you're just never...

00:21:16   I think you're also losing the ability to navigate effectively.

00:21:20   The longer, the more fine-grained

00:21:24   each step of your journey is, the better you're able

00:21:28   to be making course adjustments as you go. If you only find

00:21:32   out that your project was successful or not six months from now,

00:21:36   if it's not, you're way off course at this point. You're

00:21:40   miles from where you need to be. But if you can make that realization

00:21:44   a month from now, and you can tweak and change and

00:21:48   adapt as you go, you can keep yourself way better, much more on course,

00:21:52   and much more heading in the direction that you actually have said that you want, than

00:21:56   having this big lofty thing that you're kind of scrolling away on for a long time.

00:22:00   And it's just also demotivating. I also have a short attention span for

00:22:04   projects, but I know that after a couple of weeks, I'm

00:22:08   kind of getting bored. And if it's not showing fruit, I'm never going to really be able to

00:22:12   keep it up. So I want to have something that's small and tangible that I can have to

00:22:16   show for it. And it may not be the whole app or the whole project

00:22:20   or whatever it is. One of my favorite things is to take

00:22:24   some cool essential part of a project and develop it

00:22:28   from top to bottom and see if that works. And if it does, that is often

00:22:32   a great indication that it's worth expanding out from that.

00:22:36   But that's a great short-term, tangible goal. In a couple of weeks, I'm going to

00:22:40   knock something out and see what that's like and have that be my goal, rather than

00:22:44   worrying about some of the big, broader problems or things that I

00:22:48   might need to deal with down the road, because I'm just

00:22:52   going to get so lost in the weeds that I'm never going to know where I am.

00:22:56   So the last kind of area to be is themes.

00:23:00   And this is something that you mentioned earlier. I think this is a really

00:23:04   useful construct that Mike and Gray talk a lot about on

00:23:08   Cortex. And I'll have a link to Cortex-95 in the show notes,

00:23:12   which is the most recent example where they talk through

00:23:16   themes. And specifically what they talk about usually are yearly or seasonal

00:23:20   themes, where it's talking about these

00:23:24   broad, general things that you're aiming for in this year.

00:23:28   And it gives a flavor to the actions you're taking or a filter to take.

00:23:32   And what I've found specifically with themes, and these are short-term, less specific

00:23:36   planning tools, is they have become

00:23:40   extremely helpful, I find, when you are more established, or your

00:23:44   business is more established, or your routines are more established, that you aren't

00:23:48   just trying to build a whole... If you imagine a kind of a nautical

00:23:52   analogy, maybe if you're heading out and you're going to build a whole new ship

00:23:56   and head out on a new journey, themes are useful in some ways.

00:24:00   But in my experience, really what you need is lots of really tangible

00:24:04   short-term goals that are measurable and you can make good adjustments for.

00:24:08   Like you are starting out on something new. Whereas themes, I've found to be

00:24:12   incredibly useful since they started talking about this on Cortex in my own life,

00:24:16   or in my own business, because it kind of feels more like trimming the sails

00:24:20   or a rudder on a ship, if you're going to extend the metaphor, where

00:24:24   it's ways of making these little adjustments throughout the year that

00:24:28   help you along your journey. Because it gives you

00:24:32   this kind of... You often find yourself in a place where you're

00:24:36   kind of making choices between two roughly equivalents.

00:24:40   You have these kind of "Should I do this thing or should I do this thing?" and they're probably both

00:24:44   similar. If you have a theme, it's often kind of like a useful

00:24:48   thing to help filter your decisions

00:24:52   through. I think the canonical theme is probably

00:24:56   having a year of less. A year where you take on less or you

00:25:00   try and focus down your ambitions to something that

00:25:04   is attainable. And the nature of

00:25:08   a year of less is something that you have an abundance from which

00:25:12   you are trying to reduce towards the less. So in that sense, this is much more useful

00:25:16   when you have lots of projects, when you have lots of things, lots of irons in the fire

00:25:20   and you're trying to narrow it down to be more selective and

00:25:24   effective with what you have. That is a useful thing when you

00:25:28   have the idea, "Huh, what if I made an app that did this?"

00:25:32   or "What if I went down this road?" It's something that's like, "Nope, this is the year of

00:25:36   less. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to do something else. I'm going to do

00:25:40   the choice that narrows my focus rather than broadens it." You could also have a year of more

00:25:44   if you find yourself stuck in a rut and you feel like you've been doing the same

00:25:48   thing over and over again and you want to explore new things. Awesome! That's a

00:25:52   great theme. Go down that road, but make sure that you

00:25:56   can decide which one works for you. The great thing about themes is that they're not pass/fail.

00:26:00   It's not a goal in the specific measurable way that a short-term goal

00:26:04   is where it's so specific that you can say if you achieved it or not.

00:26:08   A theme is much more of this thing that you have the feeling for, and it is helpful in that way

00:26:12   because it is so general that it's just a little encourager

00:26:16   during whatever season you have that theme for where you're

00:26:20   just like, it just keeps nudging you. Maybe rather than a rudder,

00:26:24   it's just a little nudge. It's just sitting there nudging you throughout the year to just

00:26:28   keep you on course when you start to

00:26:32   veer slightly one way or the other. Yeah, the theme is the

00:26:36   decision-making guide. As you mentioned, if you're

00:26:40   trying to decide whether to take on a new project or start a new thing, or if you

00:26:44   have a theme that you're trying to achieve for that time period, it

00:26:48   can help you decide just what general direction

00:26:52   to go or whether you should take on something

00:26:56   new or explore something in a different direction or whether you want to contract on it. It's funny,

00:27:00   I think most of the annual themes on Cortex so far

00:27:04   have been summarized by either less or more.

00:27:08   This year I need less, this year I want to explore more.

00:27:12   For me personally, I was thinking my yearly theme for this year

00:27:16   I think is focus, which is

00:27:20   in many ways less. That basically I

00:27:24   have way too many open projects, like

00:27:28   half done or unachieved things

00:27:32   that I need to either close this project, ship this feature,

00:27:36   just get rid of a lot of stuff in my house.

00:27:40   There's all sorts of things where this year I feel

00:27:44   focus/less/concentration, whatever you want to call it

00:27:48   is I need to take what I have now, which is

00:27:52   too much stuff and a bunch of open projects, and

00:27:56   close them, ship them, focus my efforts down, get rid

00:28:00   of stuff, just concentrate because it's all too much and I don't like

00:28:04   having open projects. So things have spun out of control for a while.

00:28:08   So this is not going to be a year where I explore becoming a YouTube star or

00:28:12   stuff like that. This is not a year where I'm going to open up a bunch of new stuff, it's a year where I'm going to shrink

00:28:16   stuff down. Do you have a theme for the year?

00:28:20   The relevant one I have for this discussion, I think, is my hope

00:28:24   for this year is the year of intention, which is

00:28:28   the less/more category is the less side. I feel like there's many things that I do

00:28:32   both professionally and personally that I'm doing out of habit rather than necessarily

00:28:36   out of intention and choice. And I think my theme for this year is to try

00:28:40   and make sure that the things that I'm doing on a regular basis

00:28:44   are things that I want to intentionally do on a regular basis.

00:28:48   In the work case, are there

00:28:52   apps that I'm continuing to support because I have them?

00:28:56   Or are these things that I actually want to work on? And making an intentional choice

00:29:00   that is proactive around that rather than just like, "Well, the inertia is

00:29:04   the easiest thing." In some ways, it's considered to be the opposite of that

00:29:08   theme. It would be like the year of inertia, just keep doing what you did.

00:29:12   Which is not a particularly compelling theme. So anyway, hopefully that was a useful discussion.

00:29:16   And I think the thing to wrap up about this is that this kind of discussion

00:29:20   and this process is useful

00:29:24   even if it's just a scaffolding for your thought. That it gives you something to latch

00:29:28   onto, something to concretely turn vague notions

00:29:32   or desires or things that you might have in your mind into something concrete. If you can turn it into

00:29:36   a goal, an ambition, a theme, you're well on the path and you've done probably

00:29:40   most of the work to actually be heading in the right direction, which is ultimately

00:29:44   the best we can do. Thanks for listening everybody, and we'll talk to you in two weeks.

00:29:48   Bye.