136: 2023 Yearly Themes


00:00:00   Final episode of the year.

00:00:01   That happened quickly.

00:00:03   Yes, you know what, I agree with you.

00:00:05   It's yearly themes time.

00:00:06   Yearly themes.

00:00:07   I actually made a change in my theme within the short break that we just took.

00:00:14   So we were talking before and we took a 10-minute break and I looked at it I was like

00:00:19   "let me just change a couple of words" so like we're going right to the wire on this year's theme.

00:00:23   I thought I was taking it right to the wire because I had decided on my theme

00:00:28   quite a long time ago, as I will reveal.

00:00:31   And just in the last couple months, I was like,

00:00:33   ooh, no, I need to go in a different direction.

00:00:35   And I thought that was cutting it close.

00:00:37   But cutting it close as in,

00:00:39   you made a change five minutes ago.

00:00:41   - So the theme is the same.

00:00:42   And I came to my idea of my theme a little bit ago too.

00:00:46   But in kind of going over the show notes

00:00:50   and re-listening to some of the past episodes,

00:00:52   I realized that the way I was talking about my theme

00:00:56   was maybe going to be a little more restrictive

00:00:59   than what a theme should be.

00:01:02   And so that was really good for me to go back over it again,

00:01:05   which is why it is very good that we, in each episode,

00:01:08   if we need to do it again,

00:01:09   kind of restate what a yearly theme is.

00:01:12   'Cause I think it's good to kind of have that framing fresh

00:01:15   when you're working on one,

00:01:16   because literally watching your theme video again

00:01:20   in preparation for this, I was like,

00:01:21   "Oh, I have boxed myself in a little bit too much

00:01:24   with this theme."

00:01:25   you'll understand a little bit later on in today's episode why.

00:01:29   So a yearly theme, instead of setting new year's resolutions at the start of every year

00:01:35   because that you will undoubtedly fail on that,

00:01:39   with a yearly theme you're setting yourself an overall idea of how you want to approach each year.

00:01:45   Then this becomes a guide for you in your personal life, your professional life,

00:01:49   whatever it might be throughout the next year.

00:01:52   So instead of setting yourself a specific goal, set something more broad.

00:01:56   So a good example from Gray's theme video, which I'll put in the show notes if you want to watch that.

00:02:00   Instead of saying, "I want to read 20 books this year," which is a very kind of typical New Year's resolution kind of thing,

00:02:08   you say, "2023 is the year of reading."

00:02:11   So if you read 18 books, 19 books, that's a success.

00:02:15   Right.

00:02:15   Something broad for you to keep in mind, helps you make decisions in your year,

00:02:20   because you've always got this kind of like guide

00:02:22   that will kind of help pull you through.

00:02:24   - Yeah, and the thing that I always like to throw in here,

00:02:26   which is me at my maximum hippiness,

00:02:29   is you're looking for words that resonate with you

00:02:31   as you think about what your theme should be.

00:02:34   You're looking for this difficult to pin down,

00:02:37   but what words are you drawn to,

00:02:39   sort of aspect of resonance.

00:02:41   And that is incredibly vague always as an actionable item,

00:02:45   but I do feel like that's an important part of this,

00:02:49   that it's broad and what you are drawn to.

00:02:52   - I think you have actually,

00:02:53   in that you have perfectly described

00:02:55   the thing that happens to me when I'm working on my theme.

00:02:58   So I spoke about this a couple of months ago,

00:03:01   but what I do when it comes to time for me

00:03:04   to think about how I come up with my theme

00:03:06   is I create an Apple note and I start writing down

00:03:10   things that I wanna change in my work and personal life

00:03:14   or things that I wanna continue from the previous year

00:03:17   or bring back, that kind of stuff.

00:03:19   and I will just out for a space of a few weeks,

00:03:22   just keep it in mind that if I have a little thought,

00:03:25   rather than just having that thought, I write it down.

00:03:28   And I end up with this long list of things,

00:03:30   which I then start to go through,

00:03:32   I delete things, I move things around,

00:03:35   I start to see where maybe there are some

00:03:38   groups of things forming, like,

00:03:39   "Oh, this is related to this and this and this."

00:03:42   And as I start reading through it,

00:03:43   when it comes like naming my theme,

00:03:45   that's where it starts to come from,

00:03:46   I start to get these words popping out,

00:03:49   and then one of them will just hit

00:03:52   and I can't get rid of it.

00:03:54   So like this year, my yearly theme,

00:03:57   I don't think it is maybe the best word

00:04:00   that I could have used for it,

00:04:01   but it's the word that I couldn't get out of my head.

00:04:04   So it's the one that I'm going with.

00:04:06   And so this process of writing down

00:04:08   and reviewing what I'm writing,

00:04:09   it helps me kind of like focus in on

00:04:12   what is the biggest thing that I can focus on

00:04:15   over the next year that might help me try and tackle some of these annoyances in my life.

00:04:19   Yeah.

00:04:19   And I've actually stolen that from you a little bit this year.

00:04:22   This sort of way that you've talked about it has gotten into my head.

00:04:25   And in the past few months, I've done the same thing of kind of noticing

00:04:30   when I'm thinking about something.

00:04:31   And then particularly when I'm kind of feeling a certain emotion and then writing

00:04:35   it down and then kind of processing that.

00:04:38   And I've totally stolen that from you.

00:04:39   And it actually has had a big impact on the sort of change in

00:04:43   what I wanted to do for this year.

00:04:45   - It works for me.

00:04:46   I mean, I'm happy that it seems to have worked for you

00:04:49   for this one.

00:04:50   'Cause I think, you know, really what we're trying to do here

00:04:53   is make our lives better, right?

00:04:55   That's what this is all about.

00:04:56   It's like making our lives better.

00:04:57   And so why this part of the like coming up with the theme

00:05:01   works for me is I feel like I'm trying

00:05:04   because I'm noting all the things that I don't like,

00:05:06   the things that I want to change.

00:05:08   - Yeah.

00:05:08   - And then I'm using those as like,

00:05:10   how do I build something out of this

00:05:12   to try and make this better?

00:05:13   and maybe make me feel better, make me happier,

00:05:16   more productive, whatever it might be.

00:05:17   - Yeah, I think of it as you wanna make your life better

00:05:21   and intrinsically that is connected

00:05:24   to changing something about yourself

00:05:26   and that is very hard.

00:05:28   I think people underestimate that this is like

00:05:31   a top tier human experience difficulty thing

00:05:35   is changing something about yourself is really hard.

00:05:39   And so that's where I think the resonance is important.

00:05:43   It has to be something that sticks in the back of your mind

00:05:47   that then as you turn on can start to connect

00:05:50   to a bunch of different aspects in your life

00:05:52   in various ways.

00:05:54   But yeah, it's really hard to improve yourself.

00:05:56   - And I think that that difficulty

00:05:57   of being able to change something in your life

00:05:59   is why something like a fixed goal,

00:06:02   like a resolution, is so hard to achieve.

00:06:05   - Oh yeah, yeah.

00:06:06   - Because you have to do so much to get to that point

00:06:09   where this idea that we have of yearly themes

00:06:14   is more about just a trend line going in the right direction.

00:06:19   So even if you just do the smallest amount,

00:06:22   if you've actually been able to get somewhere

00:06:25   towards this year theme that you have for yourself,

00:06:28   if you've been able to read three more books this year

00:06:32   than you would have otherwise, you have done it.

00:06:35   - Yeah, there's something I've been kind of adding

00:06:37   in my thoughts to the theme,

00:06:38   which is gonna come up this year,

00:06:40   which is the idea of the minimum possible success.

00:06:45   Like what is the tiniest version

00:06:48   of what success looks like?

00:06:50   And this really came out for me

00:06:52   of exercising a few years ago.

00:06:54   Like what is the minimum amount of exercise

00:06:58   that can possibly happen?

00:06:59   And it was literally five minutes in the morning,

00:07:03   five days a week was like the bare minimum amount

00:07:06   of exercise.

00:07:07   Like that was totally life-changing being able to do that.

00:07:09   And so, you know, like,

00:07:11   "Ooh, I'm gonna get super fit this year."

00:07:13   It's like, "Okay, hey, hey, hey,

00:07:14   if it's a year of fitness,

00:07:15   what is the bare minimum of success look like?"

00:07:18   If you're setting anything that looks like a goal,

00:07:21   it's gotta be like way low in what you're trying to achieve.

00:07:25   And I think that's actually more effective then,

00:07:27   because even small changes

00:07:29   going along with this trend line thing

00:07:31   are a really big deal over a long period of time.

00:07:35   - So it's like ultimately, what I'm trying to do here

00:07:38   is trick my brain some way.

00:07:41   And I find that having a theme tricks my brain

00:07:45   in a really good way.

00:07:46   Because even if everything else around me is on fire,

00:07:50   if I can, so like we'll use the year of structure,

00:07:54   which I'm gonna talk about in a bit,

00:07:55   that was my last year's theme.

00:07:57   You know, I wanted to make sure

00:07:58   I had more time for myself, right?

00:08:00   And even if I was having a terrible week, terrible day,

00:08:04   If I could take 25 minutes to play some video games,

00:08:08   I felt like I was doing what I set out for the year,

00:08:13   which was to give myself some more space.

00:08:16   And so like doing things like that,

00:08:18   it's just now when I play the video games,

00:08:22   like, oh no, this is, I'm not wasting time.

00:08:24   This is what I'm supposed to be doing

00:08:27   because this is something that I identified

00:08:29   that I wanted from my year.

00:08:30   So like you're able to, if you can really get this

00:08:34   and you can get this idea in your mind,

00:08:36   and you set out with all of the best intention in the world

00:08:39   to try and make some kind of like change in your life

00:08:42   around your yearly theme.

00:08:44   Every small amount that you put towards it

00:08:46   gets you closer to making it a bigger part of your life.

00:08:50   And I know from the years past that we've been doing this,

00:08:54   I'm still carrying through change that I made then.

00:08:57   - Yes, yeah.

00:08:59   - Because there are certain things stick around,

00:09:01   and they're just always a part of me.

00:09:03   And this is genuinely some of the biggest change I've made

00:09:07   in my adult life is sticking by this process.

00:09:11   And I think it's been incredibly valuable

00:09:13   and I genuinely believe in it so much,

00:09:16   which is why we keep doing it, right?

00:09:17   'Cause we both believe in this

00:09:18   and it is such a great system

00:09:21   for brains that work like ours, I suppose.

00:09:24   - Yeah, and so I hope that for the listeners

00:09:27   with this episode, we're gonna go through,

00:09:29   review how things went and talk about the themes

00:09:32   for the next year.

00:09:33   And I hope that this can act as a way for the listener

00:09:38   to see and think about like,

00:09:40   how are other people doing this?

00:09:42   And to act as like a kicking off point

00:09:45   for how can this work in your life?

00:09:48   So that's what we're going to do today.

00:09:50   And so let's hear about,

00:09:52   how did the year of structure go, Myke?

00:09:53   - Oh, you want me to start, huh?

00:09:55   - I do want you to start, yes.

00:09:57   - This episode of Cortex is brought to you by Squarespace,

00:10:00   the all-in-one platform for building your brand

00:10:02   growing your business online. You can stand out with a beautiful website, engage with

00:10:07   your audience and sell anything. Your products, services, even the content you create, Squarespace

00:10:11   has got you covered. If your yearly theme, if your big project for next year needs a

00:10:17   web presence, trust me, Squarespace is the place to go. It is so easy to get started.

00:10:23   You just choose one of their beautiful best in class website templates and customise it

00:10:27   to fit your needs. It's as easy as browsing the category of site or business you want

00:10:32   to create to find that perfect starting place which you can then customise with just a few

00:10:37   clicks. If you want to get blogging, they have the best, most powerful blogging tools

00:10:41   around to share your stories, photos, videos and updates. You can categorise them, share

00:10:46   them and even schedule your posts to make your content work for you. And then if you

00:10:50   want to see how things are going, you can use Squarespace's insights to grow your

00:10:54   business to grow your presence online. If you want to know where your site visitors

00:10:59   are coming from, where your sales are coming from, which channels are most effective for

00:11:03   you, you can analyse all of this in Squarespace. When you have that data, you can improve your

00:11:08   website and build a marketing strategy based on your top keywords or most popular products

00:11:13   and content. I have been using Squarespace for over 10

00:11:17   years. When I want to put something online, it is the first place I go, and it's the

00:11:21   first place you could go. In fact, let me give you the URL you should go to. Squarespace.com/cortex.

00:11:27   You can sign up for a free trial there with no credit card required. Then, when you're

00:11:31   ready to launch, use the offer code "CORTEX". You'll save 10% off your first purchase of

00:11:35   a website or domain and support this show. That's Squarespace.com/CORTEX and then when

00:11:40   you sign up, use the offer code "CORTEX" to get 10% off your first purchase. Our thanks

00:11:45   to Squarespace for their support of this show and all of Relay FM.

00:11:49   I'll give my little description.

00:11:50   So every year I have the name of my theme,

00:11:54   which was the year of structure.

00:11:56   I have a short description, a detailed description,

00:11:59   and then a set of ideal outcomes.

00:12:01   Some of this has found its way

00:12:03   into the structure of the journal, right?

00:12:05   'Cause it's like, this is how I ended up doing it.

00:12:07   So the year of structure was,

00:12:10   I need to have a better structure in place

00:12:13   to handle my various responsibilities

00:12:15   while also allowing for more unstructured time.

00:12:18   I want to make space in my life while also balancing the things I want and need to be working on.

00:12:23   Before I started going through this, I had a very similar experience and feeling to how I felt last year.

00:12:30   So with last year's theme, when we sat down to do the episode, I was coming in and being like,

00:12:36   "This is a total failure. I didn't do a good job at all."

00:12:40   And when the more we, me and you went through it together, it was like, "Actually, you know what?

00:12:47   it worked out, like I did a good job in the end, right?

00:12:52   And so, and that was the year of reinvention,

00:12:55   which was again, in hindsight, a really big thing.

00:12:58   I think that was my biggest issue is it was very big.

00:13:01   So, but you know, as I was thinking about

00:13:03   how was the year structure being for me,

00:13:06   it's like, oh, this was maybe not great.

00:13:08   And just because I felt like I was still struggling

00:13:12   with a bunch of new things, you know, coming into 2022,

00:13:17   I felt like I'd kind of lost control

00:13:19   of the responsibilities that I had in my life.

00:13:21   And 2022 itself has not necessarily gotten better

00:13:25   in that regard, because it has been a very tumultuous

00:13:29   again year for my real FM work.

00:13:32   Lots of new things happening, unexpected things happening,

00:13:37   new areas of responsibility

00:13:38   that I didn't even really think about before,

00:13:40   new areas that needed to have more intense focus

00:13:43   than they did before.

00:13:45   So coming into the review of this, I was like,

00:13:48   I don't really think I did this.

00:13:51   I still have this feeling of overwhelm in places.

00:13:55   But then the more I started digging into it,

00:13:57   again, the better I actually thought about it

00:14:00   because it took the review for me to realize

00:14:03   a lot of the change that I've made.

00:14:05   So with the structure of my life,

00:14:08   there were four key areas that I wanted to focus on.

00:14:12   Sometimes my yearly themes are just focused on work,

00:14:15   but this one was much more of a holistic thing.

00:14:18   So I wanted to bring more structure to my home,

00:14:22   my studio, my family, and my business.

00:14:26   And as I was going through all of this,

00:14:29   I actually do feel like I have made meaningful progress

00:14:32   in each of these areas, but it may have been in some cases

00:14:35   just not necessarily what I thought they were going to be.

00:14:38   And so like, I feel like I've made success.

00:14:40   So the home one, we've moved, right?

00:14:43   This was the big thing.

00:14:45   And I actually think that the home move

00:14:48   has been the big destabilizer in my life

00:14:51   over the last six months.

00:14:53   - Let me say as an outside observer of your life, yeah.

00:14:57   - It's been a nightmare.

00:14:59   - It's been hugely destabilizing.

00:15:01   - It's been really, really hard

00:15:02   and it was a lot of horrible work and uncertainty.

00:15:06   And I think that it cast a bit of a shadow over everything.

00:15:10   - It totally did, yeah.

00:15:11   - Which is why when I was coming in for this review,

00:15:14   I think I was looking at it more harshly,

00:15:16   but now we've actually completed the move.

00:15:18   It's like, excellent.

00:15:19   This was what we wanted, where we wanted to be.

00:15:23   We have what we were looking for and huge success.

00:15:27   For the studio, this is a much longer process of like,

00:15:31   you know, at some point in the future,

00:15:34   I would like for me to have my own studio space,

00:15:37   not one that I rent,

00:15:39   'cause I wanna have more control over the building

00:15:41   and I wanna have more control over what I can

00:15:43   and can't do here.

00:15:44   And I started laying the foundation of the processes

00:15:48   from an accounting and business perspective

00:15:51   to try and mean that maybe in five years from now

00:15:54   I can think about it.

00:15:55   That's kind of where I am.

00:15:56   So I feel like, again, even the foundations

00:15:59   are not finished, but I started the process

00:16:03   of what I would need to do

00:16:06   to even start thinking about that.

00:16:08   In my family life, really the move was a big part of this.

00:16:12   I wanna put new roots in into a new part of London

00:16:17   and start building up again from there.

00:16:19   And I'm gonna come back to the family stuff.

00:16:22   Shortly, I think it's gonna become part of my next team.

00:16:25   And then with business,

00:16:26   I'm very confident with Relay FM's current position,

00:16:31   which again has been like every year

00:16:33   in the last three years, who knows, right?

00:16:35   Like it's kind of been, there have been points in the year,

00:16:38   but right now I'm feeling very good about where we are.

00:16:41   And I'm also feeling really good about Cortex brand.

00:16:45   I think we're on a good path.

00:16:46   I will come back to this in a second.

00:16:48   Like we've got to go make that path happen.

00:16:50   But now I think that we, in 22,

00:16:53   I think there's much more structure than we had before.

00:16:56   - Yeah, I think this is one of those funny things

00:16:58   for outsiders where it will seem like not a lot

00:17:01   has happened with Cortex brand,

00:17:03   but it's just like you're not aware of the things

00:17:06   that have been going on behind the scenes.

00:17:08   - It became a real company, right?

00:17:10   Like we were kind of like, I felt like operating out

00:17:13   of the back of a truck before 2022.

00:17:15   (laughing)

00:17:16   Now we've like got things in place

00:17:20   that real businesses need,

00:17:22   and we're starting to build from there.

00:17:24   - Yeah, you have put in a ton of work

00:17:27   with getting that set up as a proper thing this year.

00:17:30   So yeah, I think people will see the fruits of that come,

00:17:34   but I can also understand why, from your perspective,

00:17:37   when you're doing the review,

00:17:39   It's easy to feel on a bunch of these levels like,

00:17:41   oh, nothing has really happened.

00:17:43   But it's like, I disagree with that.

00:17:45   Especially with that one with the family.

00:17:46   It's like, yeah, that home move is a huge,

00:17:49   like that is the foundational thing.

00:17:51   - And this is the structure part.

00:17:52   - Yeah.

00:17:53   - Like the structure is a foundation, right?

00:17:54   And like, and I've put in all of the,

00:17:58   in each of those areas,

00:17:59   I'm confident about what I've put in.

00:18:02   - Yeah.

00:18:02   - But there was the secondary feeling of like,

00:18:04   oh my God, I'm overwhelmed.

00:18:06   And that hasn't gone away.

00:18:07   And that is what I'm going to--

00:18:09   spoilers-- focus on again next year, but in a different way.

00:18:14   So to continue my 2022 review, I said on our last episode,

00:18:20   we're going to have three new Cortex brand products in 2022.

00:18:24   This is an achievable goal.

00:18:27   This was not achievable.

00:18:28   This was not an achievable goal.

00:18:30   Not achievable at all.

00:18:31   No.

00:18:32   We haven't not been doing anything.

00:18:34   So we have had--

00:18:35   One of those new products has been available.

00:18:38   It's been available in limited quantities

00:18:39   over the last year.

00:18:40   And we've not spoken about it on the show

00:18:42   because the quantities are really limited.

00:18:44   Every now and again,

00:18:45   we have a version of a pen available in our store.

00:18:49   We work with our friends at Studio Neat.

00:18:51   They make a wonderful pen called the Mark One.

00:18:53   And we've been doing a branded version of that.

00:18:55   When you're on contextmerch.com,

00:18:57   sometimes it will be there.

00:18:58   Sometimes it won't be there.

00:19:00   You can put your email address in

00:19:01   and be told when they'll be there.

00:19:04   We have an overall plan that at some point,

00:19:07   this will be a product that's always available,

00:19:10   but it's complicated to make that happen.

00:19:12   But it's sometimes there.

00:19:14   - Yeah, it's complicated to make,

00:19:15   this is one of those things where you run into

00:19:16   a bunch of supply issues,

00:19:18   and so it's also just never made sense to fully promote it,

00:19:21   because it's always been in little dribs and drabs here.

00:19:24   - And this isn't a full promotional event.

00:19:26   I just mentioned that sometimes,

00:19:27   if we are fully promoting it, I'll tell you all the specs.

00:19:30   I'm not even gonna do that.

00:19:31   (both laughing)

00:19:32   one day we will come back to this, right?

00:19:34   - Yeah, I have a whole pitch that I give people

00:19:36   about this pen that we're not gonna do here.

00:19:38   - You're not gonna hear it today.

00:19:39   - Right, we're not gonna hear it,

00:19:40   but it's like, it's funny to me,

00:19:42   I didn't remember that you had set this goal

00:19:46   of three new Cortex brand products in 2022, and yes,

00:19:50   looking back on that, knowing all the logistical difficulties

00:19:52   that are still working themselves out in the world,

00:19:55   it's just, it's shocking.

00:19:57   That was a hilariously unaccomplishable target,

00:20:01   and neither of us had the foggiest clue of that

00:20:04   at the start of the year.

00:20:05   - Well, I mean, one of them was just like,

00:20:07   there was a fundamental lack of a resource in the world

00:20:10   that meant we couldn't make a thing.

00:20:12   This is like, oh, okay.

00:20:14   And then we've had another product,

00:20:16   which is our next big product,

00:20:18   which has also been in development for 18 months.

00:20:23   I mentioned it on the last theme episode.

00:20:28   I was talking about it.

00:20:29   I was talking about like, you know,

00:20:31   I wanted that I had sat down

00:20:33   and like went through a whole thing

00:20:34   and we were going through original prototypes then.

00:20:37   This product is made

00:20:38   and it's currently waiting at a port.

00:20:41   So at some point next year,

00:20:44   we will have like our second big product.

00:20:48   It was a Cortex brand.

00:20:49   This is how I'm hoping that this is going to go.

00:20:52   But that's been a project which has taken a whole year

00:20:55   with weekly trips to manufacturers,

00:20:59   like we will have a whole story to tell

00:21:02   at some point in 2023.

00:21:04   So do we have three products for sale?

00:21:06   No, we had one kind of, another one nearly.

00:21:10   - Yeah, I feel like we have 1.1 products.

00:21:13   - 1.1, yeah.

00:21:14   - That's how it works with the journal and the pen.

00:21:16   - So not so achievable, but still making good progress.

00:21:19   The biggest thing was I wanted to find more space

00:21:23   in my schedule for unstructured time.

00:21:26   And I wanted to do a few things with this.

00:21:28   I wanted to have more time to come up with product ideas

00:21:31   and big idea stuff and also time for me.

00:21:34   And what I've been able to find more of is the time for me.

00:21:38   I have made that the priority

00:21:41   because I still didn't have like tons of time.

00:21:44   So when I had time, I wanted to focus it on that.

00:21:48   And this is, I think mainly because

00:21:50   in the latter six months of the year,

00:21:53   If I had large chunks of time,

00:21:55   I was trying to get the house things in order in that time.

00:21:59   One of the biggest changes for me in the Eurostructure is

00:22:02   if I would have been sitting at my desk

00:22:05   and I've got, say, 45 minutes before a call

00:22:09   or recording or something,

00:22:11   and I haven't got any task

00:22:13   that I particularly want to work on or need to work on,

00:22:16   I would previously just click around,

00:22:19   like what's on Twitter, what's in my email,

00:22:23   that kind of stuff.

00:22:24   What I have been intentionally doing is,

00:22:26   what a great time to go play a video game.

00:22:28   And that has been a massive,

00:22:32   positive change in my life this year.

00:22:34   Like in 2021,

00:22:37   I felt like I was completely detached from video games.

00:22:43   I wasn't playing them.

00:22:45   There were, you know, every game of the year,

00:22:47   candidate, I hadn't played them and it was bothering me because I wanted, I love

00:22:53   video games, I always have and I wanted to be more connected to them. So like a

00:22:57   couple of things happened for me like one was this and also I started

00:23:01   listening to a bunch of new podcasts from Kinda Funny, they're a podcast

00:23:04   network, they're video games and pop culture is typically where they focus on.

00:23:08   So bringing in more video game content that I enjoyed plus making a priority of

00:23:14   of playing more video games has been a huge change for me.

00:23:19   It started with having an Xbox in my studio,

00:23:22   but where it really gained its legs was getting a Steam Deck.

00:23:26   And then just having access to basically anything has been awesome.

00:23:34   And I can play it comfortably and it's interesting because this is like a previous year's theme

00:23:39   of building strength in me. Like that was one of the things like fitness, right?

00:23:44   It was never an actual theme of mine, but it would find its way into other themes that I would have.

00:23:52   When I was thinking about like, Reinvention, it was part of that.

00:23:55   And for me, like I struggled with RSI, I've spoken about that on the show in the past.

00:23:59   This isn't the case for everyone, but it turned out for me that building a little more strength training into my life

00:24:06   has significantly reduced my RSI issues.

00:24:10   So I'm able to more comfortably play video games.

00:24:13   So there's been this building up of things

00:24:16   just got me to the point where

00:24:18   I've played a ton of video games this year,

00:24:20   and I love it, and it's been a huge

00:24:22   positive impact on my life.

00:24:23   - I'm so happy to hear that.

00:24:24   It is a thing that for years I felt

00:24:27   I was trying to gently encourage you,

00:24:28   like, "Hey, Myke, just try the weightlifting a little bit."

00:24:33   And it sounds ridiculous of like,

00:24:37   "Oh yeah, you're gonna pump iron to play video games?"

00:24:40   But in my experience and in the experience

00:24:43   of lots of my friends and colleagues,

00:24:45   like a tiny amount of strength training

00:24:48   can really impact RSI.

00:24:50   And it's one of those things like,

00:24:52   I didn't even really notice it at first,

00:24:55   but at some point it's like,

00:24:56   "Oh, my RSI just went away?"

00:25:00   And it's like, "Oh, right, just a tiny amount of this

00:25:03   has really made a big difference."

00:25:04   - We're not a couple of like jacked muscle heads, right?

00:25:07   The two of us.

00:25:09   I don't think you would necessarily look at us

00:25:11   and be like, "Oh man, they love their weight training."

00:25:13   So that is to say, you don't have to really go heavy on it,

00:25:18   but just enough.

00:25:20   - I would go so far as to say,

00:25:22   people would look at us, and especially me right now,

00:25:24   which we'll get to, and say,

00:25:26   "Those guys definitely don't weight train."

00:25:28   (both laughing)

00:25:30   - They anti-weight train.

00:25:31   - Yeah.

00:25:32   (both laughing)

00:25:34   But that's why I really do, I have this weird crusade

00:25:37   about weight training for nerds.

00:25:40   It's like, you don't wanna do this,

00:25:42   but it actually directly impacts all of the things

00:25:45   that you like and if you stop doing it,

00:25:48   it makes things worse and yeah,

00:25:49   it's not the case for everyone,

00:25:51   but I'm just like, I'm so happy that you have experienced

00:25:53   this too and that it's like, it's really paying dividends

00:25:56   in all of these ways of just, oh,

00:25:59   with a little bit more strength,

00:26:01   you can use your hands for longer comfortably,

00:26:05   which impacts everything.

00:26:07   - Everything.

00:26:08   You know, just having that pain all the time

00:26:10   was just very difficult.

00:26:13   And so finding a way to remove that

00:26:15   has been a fantastic change.

00:26:17   And then using that to be able to bring more fun

00:26:21   back into my daily life again has just been fantastic.

00:26:26   The Steam Deck's incredible.

00:26:28   And that has been just great.

00:26:30   Like I've just been playing a ton of games.

00:26:32   And I will say that in doing this,

00:26:36   being able to take this time to do something for me,

00:26:40   something that I enjoy,

00:26:43   I think that it significantly helped me

00:26:46   avoid burnout this year,

00:26:49   which in the summer was, I think, very close for me to just.

00:26:54   After having COVID, I was in a very difficult position.

00:26:58   There was just a lot going on at work

00:27:01   and I was struggling to be able to handle it.

00:27:05   plus the emotional toll of going through my COVID situation

00:27:10   in San Jose during WWDC week.

00:27:13   Like it was just a not great time.

00:27:15   And it was also some of the worst parts of our house buying.

00:27:19   Like, 'cause the house buying process for us

00:27:22   started in March, but really kind of reached ahead in June.

00:27:25   And that was when it became pretty complicated.

00:27:28   A lot of those things that were complicated happening

00:27:30   while we were stuck in the hotel room in San Jose.

00:27:32   - Yeah, I re-listened to the theme episode from last year

00:27:36   and it broke my heart when you mentioned on that episode

00:27:40   saying, "Oh, maybe this year I'll get invited

00:27:42   to an Apple event."

00:27:43   (laughing)

00:27:43   And-- - I did.

00:27:45   - Yeah, as like a career highlight goal of like,

00:27:48   oh, this is, and then like, I had forgotten that you,

00:27:52   you had said that and it's like,

00:27:53   my heart just sank through the floor.

00:27:55   No, like, oh, he doesn't know what future Myke

00:27:59   is going to experience.

00:28:00   - Yeah. - Like just,

00:28:01   just one of the worst COVID experience environments.

00:28:06   It's just like, it was just, it was like the,

00:28:08   it was a perfect storm of miserableness.

00:28:10   So yeah, you had such a rough summer with that.

00:28:14   It was awful.

00:28:16   - I know that people might listen to this episode

00:28:18   and think that I'm like pushing the idea

00:28:21   of themes really hard,

00:28:22   but it is because it's something that I believe in so much.

00:28:27   To say that, when all of this was happening

00:28:29   and I was in a pretty tough spot.

00:28:32   I looked to my theme and added more to it.

00:28:35   So in July, I added a few things into what my theme was

00:28:40   based on what was going on with me at the time.

00:28:43   I started using focus modes to detach more

00:28:46   on weekends and evenings.

00:28:47   So like a lot of the stuff we were talking about

00:28:50   in the last episode, that was like how I use my focus modes.

00:28:54   That was a direct result of what my summer was like.

00:28:57   I finally let go of editing upgrade because of all of this.

00:29:02   Like I had, for like July to end of August,

00:29:07   my ability to edit podcasts,

00:29:13   to record them and edit them was significantly impacted.

00:29:18   Every show I would record, I would end it

00:29:21   and it felt like my chest was on fire.

00:29:24   it was really hard for me to just do my work.

00:29:28   And I had to start facing a couple of things, really.

00:29:33   One was that I needed to start letting go of some stuff

00:29:39   more than I even thought I needed to.

00:29:42   And two, I actually started to face the idea of like,

00:29:46   what do you do if you're sick?

00:29:52   you was one person responsible for the income of your family, right? Where like,

00:29:59   I have the kind of job where if I'm not working, it stops.

00:30:06   So I started to like face some of this stuff, think about some of this stuff more.

00:30:12   It reframed some of the importance for the Cortex brand in the future for me as like

00:30:22   a business that could one day just kind of be like its own thing.

00:30:28   Mm-hmm.

00:30:29   Right?

00:30:30   That like it is a company that makes these products that people like and it just can

00:30:35   continue to make money even if I am not able to focus on it.

00:30:39   And same for you, right?

00:30:40   I think we both see that as like a thing because otherwise if we can't make content, what happens?

00:30:46   Right?

00:30:47   Yeah.

00:30:48   very difficult thing that I had to start looking at because I had a significant enough bout with

00:30:56   Covid that my symptoms ran for months after I was technically did not have it anymore

00:31:01   and I didn't know how long that was going to continue and it would also hit me at random times

00:31:09   it was like okay I need to again what can I look at in my theme and so it was like all right I need

00:31:16   to give myself more rest time

00:31:19   and be more intentional with that.

00:31:21   And then also give myself more time back

00:31:24   by letting go of editing upgrades,

00:31:26   which is a thing I thought I would never do.

00:31:28   - Yeah.

00:31:29   - And I've been very happy with the decision.

00:31:32   We work with a great editor who has taken over the show

00:31:35   for me and is doing a wonderful job.

00:31:37   Jim Metzendorf, we use him for a bunch of projects at Relay.

00:31:40   He edits some of my other shows,

00:31:42   but Upgrade was one that I was like very protective of.

00:31:45   - Yeah, and very understandably that you were protective of.

00:31:48   You were really careful with the crafting of that edit.

00:31:50   So I'll just say, take this in the best possible way,

00:31:53   that as a listener of Upgrade,

00:31:55   I would never have known that a switch happened.

00:31:58   - And that's what I wanted.

00:31:59   - Which is exactly what you want, yeah.

00:32:00   - And me and Jim worked together,

00:32:02   were in the handover of that.

00:32:04   I wanted the show to continue sounding the same,

00:32:07   so he was very gracious in allowing kind of like

00:32:10   my mixing taste to be in that,

00:32:14   'cause audio editing, if you listen to podcasts

00:32:18   from public radio or whatever,

00:32:19   they'll call it audio engineering or whatever.

00:32:21   - I know, it's always so pretend.

00:32:24   It makes me laugh every time I hear that.

00:32:25   - Anyway, whatever, whatever, whatever.

00:32:28   - Myke, it's public airwaves, right?

00:32:30   Only the highest quality smooth sounds.

00:32:32   - So the audio engineering part,

00:32:35   how do you want it to sound,

00:32:37   not necessarily what are you cutting out or keeping in.

00:32:40   And Jim very graciously would allow that to occur

00:32:42   so they would never seem like there was a switch over.

00:32:45   And I give him my notes and he listens

00:32:47   and it's been fantastic and it's been really great.

00:32:50   And now when that show is done,

00:32:52   Jason takes it and posts it.

00:32:53   So as soon as I am done with upgrade

00:32:56   at like 7 p.m. on a Monday, that's it now.

00:33:00   And that's fantastic.

00:33:01   'Cause I used to leave here between nine and 10 p.m.

00:33:05   Now I leave between seven and eight and it's just awesome.

00:33:08   So that's been a great change.

00:33:10   But it was born out of something

00:33:12   that I feel like I needed to do,

00:33:15   which was not necessarily what I thought

00:33:18   was going to happen, but I looked at my theme,

00:33:21   worked out how this could fit within it

00:33:23   and move forward with it.

00:33:24   So along with the like giving myself more time,

00:33:29   I wanted to have less in my calendar, like appointment wise.

00:33:33   This didn't really get any better.

00:33:34   One of the things with this theme was like taking that year

00:33:37   to focus on not only just cutting them down immediately,

00:33:40   but what would I put in place for 2023

00:33:43   to cut out more from my calendar?

00:33:45   I haven't really succeeded with this.

00:33:50   One of the things I wanted to do was think about

00:33:52   if there were any shows that I was going to leave

00:33:55   and that has not materialized because I can't do it.

00:34:00   - You can't let go.

00:34:03   - Can't let go, no.

00:34:05   At some point I think I'm going to do more of this,

00:34:09   but it just isn't the time right now,

00:34:12   that I am making some changes

00:34:14   that will have a big impact around frequency

00:34:18   and how much time I need to commit to some stuff.

00:34:21   So I can't really talk about that just yet

00:34:24   'cause it impacts other people.

00:34:26   - Yeah, obviously.

00:34:27   - But I am actually confident that

00:34:29   going through this this year,

00:34:31   I'm going to feel much better next year

00:34:34   about what my calendar looks like because of these changes.

00:34:37   but I haven't actually cut shows out completely.

00:34:40   So that's something to still work on maybe,

00:34:43   but it hasn't happened this time around.

00:34:45   Similarly, I wanted my to-do list to be smaller

00:34:47   and oh boy, did that not happen.

00:34:49   (laughing)

00:34:51   One of the things I was thinking about

00:34:52   was giving more responsibilities to other people.

00:34:55   This continues to be an ongoing process.

00:34:57   I'm happy that progress continues to be made.

00:35:00   A lot of this actually just comes from me

00:35:03   rather than like my feelings

00:35:04   as opposed to actually giving the work away.

00:35:07   I am continuing to work on trusting people

00:35:11   who are good at what they do to just do what they do

00:35:13   without me feeling like I have to be involved.

00:35:16   - Okay.

00:35:16   - And I've gotten better at that this year,

00:35:18   and I'm continuing to work on this as an ongoing thing.

00:35:23   But there is also like a practical part

00:35:26   of actually giving tasks of mine to other people.

00:35:30   - What do you mean by that?

00:35:31   - It's more sponsorship stuff.

00:35:32   - Okay.

00:35:33   So me becoming continually less involved in that process and the company.

00:35:40   Carrie does a fantastic job, better job than me and I'm continuing to hand more and more

00:35:45   of my parts of that off to her and that is a thing that we're continuing to work through.

00:35:50   It's a slow moving process.

00:35:51   Don't want to upset that too much.

00:35:54   I feel like.

00:35:56   I spoke about maybe getting an assistant again.

00:35:58   That has not happened.

00:36:00   I did not do anything.

00:36:02   I've forgotten about that, honestly.

00:36:04   - Hey, that's fair, right?

00:36:07   This happens to all of us, right?

00:36:08   You think like, "Ooh, I'm gonna do this this year."

00:36:11   And then a year later you go,

00:36:12   "Oh, I totally forgot about that."

00:36:13   - Zero memory of that as an idea.

00:36:16   Maybe, I mean, I still would like to have someone

00:36:19   help me out with some more stuff, but I don't really,

00:36:22   again, I just don't really think I've got a big enough,

00:36:24   good enough list of things yet.

00:36:25   So sometime, sometime, yes, but it isn't now.

00:36:29   - I will, I will, I said this last year, I think,

00:36:31   I'm gonna reiterate it again,

00:36:33   you have a bigger list than you think you do.

00:36:36   This is everybody's issue.

00:36:38   Everybody's like, I don't have that much stuff.

00:36:40   But this is again,

00:36:42   if you can build a relationship of trust with someone else,

00:36:46   you will endlessly find more things for them to do.

00:36:49   - I know that process, right?

00:36:51   'Cause I hired an assistant who became the vice president

00:36:54   of sales at my company.

00:36:55   - I know, I know, but you're here again.

00:36:58   - I know the trust you can have.

00:37:01   but you're like, oh, I don't have enough to do.

00:37:03   It's like, but you do, right?

00:37:04   When you start it, it's no different now

00:37:07   than it was years ago when you did this for the first time.

00:37:10   It's the same thing again.

00:37:12   - I will keep this one in my mind.

00:37:14   - Okay.

00:37:15   - It will continue to help me in the future,

00:37:17   even with my 2023 theme, if I was able to do this,

00:37:20   it's just not a thing I thought about really at all.

00:37:23   Obviously with the structure,

00:37:25   one of the big things is setting vacation structure for me.

00:37:29   I wanted to have more time off

00:37:32   'cause I have done a terrible job of it.

00:37:35   Always, since I've been self-employed really,

00:37:37   I had a target of 20 days.

00:37:40   By the end of the year, I will have gotten to like 15 or 16.

00:37:46   - Okay, that's not bad.

00:37:47   - I'm very happy with that, honestly.

00:37:49   - Considering how terrible you've been in the past,

00:37:52   that's not bad.

00:37:53   - And it would have been different,

00:37:54   but the house move kind of messed it up.

00:37:56   Like we wanted to do more like little staycations

00:37:58   and we just did one of them.

00:37:59   So I'm confident that in the future that will occur.

00:38:02   I committed to a two week break.

00:38:05   I booked it far in advance.

00:38:07   That was a fantastic thing to do

00:38:09   and I'm gonna keep doing that

00:38:10   because knowing that that two week break was coming up

00:38:12   has been like a great mental barrier for me

00:38:15   of like there's this thing coming up

00:38:17   and I've been thinking about it

00:38:18   for like six or seven months now

00:38:19   and I've been very excited about it.

00:38:21   So I'm gonna keep doing that.

00:38:23   Taking a two week break at some point in the year

00:38:25   but then also peppering in smaller breaks.

00:38:28   I consider this a big win to have even got 75%

00:38:31   of the way to my target,

00:38:33   because I hadn't done that in years.

00:38:35   - Yeah, yeah.

00:38:36   - You know, really the only time I've taken

00:38:39   more vacation time than this was when I got married.

00:38:42   And that was like my first actual proper vacation

00:38:45   I'd taken since I started the company,

00:38:47   where there was like a period of time

00:38:49   where I was gonna do no work

00:38:51   and like tell people not to bother me, right?

00:38:54   - And you've been married for how many years now?

00:38:57   - For, uh.

00:38:58   - Oh no, I didn't mean to put you on the spot, Myke.

00:39:01   - COVID man, leave me alone.

00:39:03   Four, four years, four years.

00:39:05   - Right, there we go.

00:39:07   So yeah, it's been a while

00:39:08   since you took some proper time off, yeah.

00:39:11   - How could you do that?

00:39:13   You know what I mean?

00:39:13   How could you throw out that question?

00:39:15   How many years have you been married?

00:39:17   - That's confidential information,

00:39:19   I can answer that on the podcast.

00:39:20   - You know what, great answer.

00:39:22   Great answer.

00:39:24   So in review of my 2022,

00:39:28   the key thing that I wanted to do

00:39:31   was to spend the year getting myself ready

00:39:35   to have a better structure in place for 2023 and beyond.

00:39:38   I was kind of saying that like,

00:39:40   this is me setting the table for the next,

00:39:42   however many years.

00:39:44   And we were both talking a lot about 10 years

00:39:47   in that episode, right?

00:39:49   And I think that I got there in a bunch of areas.

00:39:54   There's a lot of things have been laid

00:39:56   that I can build on top of,

00:39:58   especially in those four key places that I mentioned.

00:40:01   I would say that overall,

00:40:02   I think that I've been successful in my yearly theme,

00:40:05   even if moment to moment,

00:40:07   I still felt a little bit out of control

00:40:09   of some things that were going on.

00:40:11   But it was again, another year full of

00:40:14   some weird twists and turns,

00:40:17   but armed with my idea of structure,

00:40:20   like you've got to keep structure in your life,

00:40:22   I think it kind of pulled me through it.

00:40:23   I think one of the key things that I am taking away

00:40:26   from the year of structure is that rather than

00:40:30   just cutting things out completely,

00:40:32   if I schedule things better, I can have more structure.

00:40:35   So it isn't like just about like, oh, cutting things out,

00:40:38   but being smart or about the way I operate.

00:40:42   And that's where I'm going into 2023.

00:40:45   And so we'll get the rest of that

00:40:46   a little bit later on in the episode.

00:40:49   This episode of Cortex is brought to you by Fitbod.

00:40:51   Between balancing work, family and everything else you've got going on in your life, it

00:40:55   can sometimes be hard to make fitness a priority.

00:40:58   What you need is a program that works with you, not against you and that's why you need

00:41:03   Fitbud.

00:41:04   Fitbud has an amazing algorithm to learn about you, your goals and your training ability.

00:41:09   It will then craft a personalised exercise plan that is unique to you and their app makes

00:41:14   it incredibly easy to learn how to perform every exercise with their HD video tutorials

00:41:19   shot from multiple angles, so learning everything is a breeze.

00:41:24   If your yearly theme includes health, maybe that's the thing you want to focus on in the

00:41:28   year, maybe you want to focus on your fitness, Fitbod is the place to start.

00:41:33   You don't want to have to look at what other people are doing and stack up against them

00:41:37   when it comes to your fitness.

00:41:39   Personal fitness is a personal thing.

00:41:41   You need something that is made for you.

00:41:43   That's when it sticks and when you'll see the results that you're looking for.

00:41:47   Fitbod uses data to create and adjust a dynamic fitness plan personalized to you that you'll

00:41:51   have instant access to in their app so you can make your progress from anywhere at any

00:41:56   time.

00:41:58   Fitbod knows that everybody's path with fitness is different and so they do so much work to

00:42:02   customize things exactly for you.

00:42:04   They make sure to learn from your workouts so everyone will be even better, whether you

00:42:08   workout twice a day or twice a week.

00:42:11   Fitbod even tracks your muscle recovery to make sure your plan is balanced with a variety

00:42:15   exercises to make sure you're not overworking anything. Both Gray and I have used Fitbod to

00:42:20   great effect over the years and has definitely played a big part in both of our fitness journeys,

00:42:25   especially when it comes to our themes. Personalised training of this quality can be

00:42:29   expensive. Fitbod is just $12.99 a month or $79.99 a year. You can get 25% off your membership though

00:42:35   when you sign up at fitbod.me/cortex. So go now and get a customised fitness plan at fitbod.me/cortex

00:42:43   and you'll get 25% off your membership at FITBOD.ME/CORTEX.

00:42:48   Our thanks to Fitbaud for their support of this show and Relay FM.

00:42:51   New Decades Dawn... again?

00:42:55   Yes, that's correct. New Decades Dawn... again.

00:42:59   Which, at the time, I branded as the "Most Nebulous Theme Ever".

00:43:04   It's interesting listening to you talk about how your year went because...

00:43:10   Obviously because we do this show, we have a funny experience where setting a theme and

00:43:17   working on it and having it throughout the year to think about is really important to both of us.

00:43:22   But because we also do this show, we tend to not want to talk to each other about it

00:43:29   as the year is going on because that would make this episode worse.

00:43:33   Like if I knew how you were thinking about everything.

00:43:35   It's sort of better to have it here where we can discuss it.

00:43:39   But listening to you talk about how your year went, and having re-listened to last year's

00:43:43   episode, some years we're really aligned in what we're thinking about, and some years

00:43:48   we're really not.

00:43:49   And I feel like we've just had two really aligned experiences.

00:43:55   Last year both of us were thinking very long-term about our themes, and I was really having

00:44:00   the same experience as this episode was coming up as you were of, I was kind of dreading

00:44:06   it because I kept thinking, "Oh, this year has gone terribly. Like, this has just been

00:44:14   an awful year on a number of metrics." I think it's fair to say that this is probably

00:44:19   the second worst year of my adult life. And so I was really down about it. And this is

00:44:27   also just at the time we're recording at the end of November. It's also just tends

00:44:33   to be a really super duper busy time for me because of the way YouTube works. You really

00:44:38   want to have a video up in December, so I'm always like pressured to try to get that done.

00:44:44   We have our two big episodes of State of the Apps and Themes, which from our subjective

00:44:49   experiences were basically like recording back to back almost like seven days apart.

00:44:55   And they're both huge work jobs for both of us and we've both like re-listened to a bunch

00:44:59   of the episodes to get ready for this.

00:45:01   And I'm also flying to America in like two days.

00:45:05   So it's just like, yeah, it's just been terrible.

00:45:10   Like I was really, I was really down like as November was here and just

00:45:15   approaching this like, Oh my God, I've got so much work to do trying to finish

00:45:18   this video, it's the big cortex season.

00:45:20   Like I just hate it.

00:45:21   I'm so unpleasant.

00:45:22   And also my year was awful.

00:45:25   Like everything sucks.

00:45:27   But like, one of the things that's really nice about this time is it also forces me

00:45:35   to actually review how the year went to spend some time and sit down and like, I look through

00:45:43   my theme journal and see like, okay, what was I doing at different times?

00:45:47   I look at the notes that I make over the course of the year about how things are going or

00:45:51   what am I thinking or what am I working on?

00:45:54   And while I will still say that objectively this is not a great year, it's so much less

00:46:01   bad than it was in my mind when I was just kind of ruminating on it in this vague way

00:46:08   that that you can do of like, "everything sucks and everything is bad."

00:46:13   It's like, "no, no, February feels like three years ago, what was actually happening

00:46:18   then?"

00:46:19   You know, "the summer feels like it was two years ago, what was actually happening

00:46:22   then like go through and see what you were up to. So back to the actual theme, which

00:46:27   was new decades dawn. I knew that it was a super nebulous theme, but that was kind of

00:46:33   on purpose. So for me, it was just about reevaluating my entire YouTube career that I think after

00:46:45   After having done it for 10 years, there was a strange way in which I was distant enough

00:46:53   from having been a teacher that I kind of just took my YouTube life for granted.

00:46:59   That like, "Oh, this is just the way things have always been."

00:47:03   And part of that was about internalizing that that is not true.

00:47:10   It's not true that like, "Oh, I just am a YouTuber."

00:47:13   That it's a thing that I have to, just like I did at the beginning of the decade, really

00:47:19   think about intentionally, what am I doing here?

00:47:23   So I kind of wanted to try to re-evaluate YouTube with new eyes, and stop thinking about

00:47:30   how the internet was, and instead see how it actually currently is, what my life currently

00:47:37   is, what does that mean in terms of how I want to produce videos, and how I want to

00:47:43   go forward long term. I didn't say it at the time, but if you go back and listen to that

00:47:49   old theme episode, I think it's very clear that my original intention was always for

00:47:55   this to be a two year theme. I didn't intend for it to be a one year theme, I thought,

00:48:01   I know going into this, it's going to be much more long-term than just this one year.

00:48:07   I have adjusted that a bit since, but that was the original idea.

00:48:11   So before I just get into the professional stuff, I do want to say like one of the things

00:48:16   it's almost like I kind of forgot about, but I was also finishing off this year a kind

00:48:21   of there was a bit of a sub-theme left over from the previous year, which was about seeing

00:48:26   all of the family after having not seen anyone because of Covid for a long time. And I like

00:48:33   almost kind of forgot that I spent like nearly a quarter of the year in Hawaii.

00:48:38   The year of the voyage, right? That was like from the previous year, right?

00:48:43   Yeah, it happened to be split, you know, because we do themes every year but like what you'd

00:48:47   plan for stuff doesn't hit those borders exactly. So it was always the like, I'm gonna spend

00:48:51   a bunch of time with my side of the family and then we're gonna spend a bunch of time

00:48:54   with my wife's side of the family, and it just like it broke up over the two different

00:48:58   years, but those were always planned together as two sides of the same coin. But yeah, I

00:49:02   like already sort of pushed that back of like, "Oh, that was so long ago, it must have

00:49:07   been two years ago." And there's a big chunk of time. And I don't know if I ever

00:49:14   really said it on the show, but it's important in a year review to say it out loud and internalize

00:49:19   it that while it is easy and fun to complain about how unbearable I find many things in

00:49:27   Hawaii, it doesn't change the fact that just like visiting my side of the family was,

00:49:32   visiting my wife's side of the family, and in particular being able to coordinate getting

00:49:37   a lot of people together at the same time in one location, it was a kind of peak in-law

00:49:45   experience that was just good for all of us. Like I think it was just a great bonding experience

00:49:50   for that whole side of the family, it brought everyone closer together, it may literally

00:49:55   be unique in terms of the difficulty of trying to coordinate whatever it was in the end,

00:50:00   like just a ton of people rotating in and out, but it was great. And that alone was

00:50:07   just a really successful thing to have done this year. It was kind of nice in the review

00:50:12   to go through and go like, "Yeah, that really was a big deal this year, getting to the other

00:50:17   side of the world and coordinating spending a long time there and coordinating family

00:50:21   there." Like, it was a big logistical project and it was pulled off hugely successfully,

00:50:26   even if I find Hawaii physically uncomfortable and full of spiders. But like, that's, you

00:50:30   know, that's a different issue. But yeah, so what happened with the rest of my year

00:50:36   was similar to your experience that it's kind of funny.

00:50:42   I think in past years, whenever I've talked about themes,

00:50:47   I almost always have used the example of health

00:50:51   as something that can come up that you don't expect

00:50:54   and as one of the reasons why goal setting is bad.

00:50:58   That you never know in a year when like, oh, surprise,

00:51:02   your year is actually going to be a year of health.

00:51:04   It's not going to be whatever else you focused on.

00:51:06   And I don't know.

00:51:09   I was very, I was very hesitant to talk about a lot of the specifics on the show.

00:51:17   Like we sort of mentioned it, we discussed it a little bit in more text, which was

00:51:22   kind of intentional on my part of like, oh, I don't want to talk about this in the

00:51:26   main show, like we, but we can talk about it some in more text, but yeah, I was hit

00:51:31   way harder for way longer than I knew. And I'll share that from my wife's perspective,

00:51:39   it was for her a bit like living with someone who is a long COVID denier who has long COVID.

00:51:46   It doesn't exist!

00:51:50   Yeah, I mean, like, I literally had conversations with her where I was like,

00:51:56   "I've read over this paper about long COVID and I think there's some serious methodological

00:52:02   problems with this even as a concept." But her experience was that we had a real relationship

00:52:09   role reversal that went on all year that I was kind of constantly in denial of, which is

00:52:14   normally she is the one who is much more over-ambitious about whatever the day plans are

00:52:21   going to be. So sometimes when we're talking in the morning, she will tell me all the things that

00:52:25   that she's like, "Here's what she's gonna do today, like boom boom boom boom boom, here's

00:52:28   a list." And she will casually have reeled off something that's like 30 hours of work

00:52:34   that she's planning to get done, and then I'm the one who sort of talks her down from

00:52:39   that and says like, "Okay, well let's realistically how long do all these things take and let's

00:52:43   do the plan." And we completely had a role reversal this year of me talking about what

00:52:48   I wanted to do, and she had to constantly talk me down because I was just kind of refusing

00:52:57   to accept that what I considered a normal amount of work was not possible. And I still

00:53:04   think I would have been kind of fine if I only got COVID the once, but it was the second

00:53:09   time that just absolutely killed me and really put me down. And so, just like you, it directly

00:53:18   impacted a lot of my ability to work. And some of the specifics that I haven't talked

00:53:24   about but this was again like going through the data and trying to see you know what did

00:53:28   my year actually look like. Because all of this is connected to like I'm really disappointed

00:53:32   in my video output this year. But when I looked through the data I realized my aerobic ability

00:53:38   in across all metrics was just completely f*cked. There's no other way to put it. And

00:53:45   digging through the data, I realized, oh, I wasn't even really able to consistently

00:53:51   use my treadmill desk and walk and talk the script out loud until September. And it's

00:54:00   like, it's a thing that I knew, like I sort of knew that I would go into the office and

00:54:05   try to walk and talk a script out loud at the same time and not be able to do it and

00:54:10   then just sit down at my desk.

00:54:12   But I totally like, I will acknowledge it now.

00:54:15   I was in some kind of weird sort of denial about this.

00:54:19   I'm like, even now I still kind of think like, okay, let me, let me be,

00:54:24   let me be very clear about this sentence, internet, right?

00:54:26   For like everyone listening.

00:54:27   I still kind of think that most long COVID might be a mass nocebo effect.

00:54:33   Like there's a part of my brain, which is still just whispering that constantly.

00:54:37   But it's extra funny in my own position because for a nocebo to work, you have to

00:54:43   think that it's harmful, which I like refused to do and then still obviously have all of

00:54:50   the symptoms.

00:54:51   So like this is almost a self-falsifying thought.

00:54:55   Even to think this thought and then look at yourself is—makes it obviously not true.

00:54:59   Yeah, because if you didn't believe it was possible but then suffer from it, then you

00:55:03   can't be—

00:55:04   like a double negative here, which is I'd have to believe that it's harmful to have

00:55:08   the symptoms that I don't believe can be harmful, right? It's like, I know this,

00:55:13   this thought like annihilates itself. It's like matter and anti-matter in one thought,

00:55:17   but there's, there's still like a part of my brain that just totally holds onto it.

00:55:20   There's a thing that you won't be aware of, which is also a way that I kind of tricked

00:55:25   myself. So this is why I mean by like specifically looking at like what was actually the problem,

00:55:31   And the problem is clearly my cardiovascular system.

00:55:35   But I was kind of pretending that wasn't a problem because both times I got COVID,

00:55:40   the thing that made it very real for me was, "Oh, while I had COVID, I couldn't rank

00:55:45   up on Magic the Gathering."

00:55:47   I'm like, "Oh god, I'm just like, my ranking score is terrible because I can't

00:55:52   think straight."

00:55:53   Right?

00:55:54   But then after both COVIDs, I ranked back up into Mythic, and I was like, "Ah, everything's

00:56:00   right? Someone's gonna write a paper about that. The long-term ramifications of Magic

00:56:08   the Gathering players between the years of 2020 to 2024. Yeah for sure, like I bet there's

00:56:14   a ton of people who follow that same pattern of like Mythic players who drop down into

00:56:18   like Platinum like a noob and can't break out of it and then when COVID clears up like

00:56:23   oh they're ranked back up into Mythic no problem. But like I really do think there

00:56:26   was a way in which I used that as a way to kind of convince myself there wasn't a problem.

00:56:32   It's like, "Oh, I have an actual numerical rank to prove that my brain hasn't got messed

00:56:37   with and so nothing could have been messed with." And it's like, "Ah, yes, but you

00:56:41   know you're made of two things, a brain and the body it lives in." And I'm like,

00:56:46   "The body it lives in is having some major problems." And so yeah, when like, I kind

00:56:52   of thought everything was over in the summer, but all of my autotracked activity shows that

00:56:59   that was just totally not true. And I kind of, I knew it wasn't true, but I was also

00:57:06   just completely in denial about it. And again, looking through the actual data, again, mainly

00:57:13   through until September, I had huge periods of time where my movement activity was almost

00:57:20   nothing in a day. That's not normal. Like I'm just totally not doing well at all. Or like,

00:57:27   even things when I was kind of reviewing how my year went, I realized, how many bike rides have

00:57:32   I gone on this year? Like I really love cycling around London. I get a lot of pleasure out of it.

00:57:37   Like I think it's such an amazing city to explore by bike. And it's also a thing that my wife

00:57:44   routinely pushes me into do because she would she notices in the afternoon of like, Oh,

00:57:49   you're just kind of sitting around like, "Why don't you go for a bike ride? You always come

00:57:52   back happier." And that's like, that's a thing that she's just gotten in the habit of pushing me.

00:57:56   But that didn't happen this year. It's like, "How many bike rides did I do?"

00:58:00   Oh, the answer was three. And then looking at it, I realized, "Oh, right, after those bike rides,

00:58:06   like my activity again just dropped to almost nothing the subsequent days of like,

00:58:10   I'm just not moving around at all." So yeah, it was a major problem. And the other thing that

00:58:16   that I sort of didn't want to talk about, but you know, because it impacted the show,

00:58:21   is I was having what I kind of dubbed "COVID migraines," which were these very long-lasting

00:58:30   kind of low-level migraines that constantly threatened to break out into like a full-fledged

00:58:38   "Oh God, the world is nothing but pain" migraine at any moment. And I did start to

00:58:44   track these because I was a little bit worried about it and it's like, I was losing maybe

00:58:50   two weeks a month to being in this kind of state of having like a constant low level

00:58:55   headache. This is also one of these things that finally November is the first time I

00:59:00   haven't had one of these. Like I can see that the trend has been going down. So this is

00:59:05   one of these funny areas where I'm trying to look through the data and be quite serious

00:59:09   about and be like, hey, okay, listen, listen, Gray, your brain wants to be full of lies

00:59:14   about how well you're doing. So do you have actual metrics to show that you are actually

00:59:20   getting better? And I do starting in September, but I like operated under the year of at the

00:59:28   start in Hawaii, I'm like, oh, I'm in Hawaii and I've recovered from COVID and that's going

00:59:33   to be great. And it's like, eh, I still wasn't great. And then I got COVID again. And it's

00:59:37   And then it was really bad.

00:59:38   And sort of related to the thing that I was talking about before, not

00:59:43   surprisingly, with no activity and just such little cardiovascular strength,

00:59:49   it's like all of my exercise basically went away and a little thing that I've

00:59:54   noticed is like, "Oh, right.

00:59:56   Hello, RSI.

00:59:57   You've returned."

00:59:59   Of course, because I've dropped the strength training because

01:00:02   it just wasn't up for it.

01:00:04   I like, I just haven't wanted to talk about all of these little details.

01:00:08   I think it's kind of not very interesting to listen to someone talk about this,

01:00:13   but like, if we're doing a year review, and if I didn't go through this,

01:00:17   it would just be like, totally willfully ignoring the most impactful thing that happened to me all

01:00:25   year long. And it obviously had a huge impact on my ability to work and my actual output.

01:00:33   So that's the big thing that happens.

01:00:35   It is a super bummer, but this is also where, again, I'm glad to have stuff to go through

01:00:42   because in retrospect, looking at the year and seeing, okay, how much time did I have

01:00:50   if I estimate how much I was put down by low level migraines and a bunch of other problems,

01:00:55   considering the amount of time I actually had to work, and the fact that like, okay,

01:01:01   I'm going to have a video that's going up in December.

01:01:03   I've got the final audio for that recorded.

01:01:05   So it's in animation, so there's no problems.

01:01:08   Yay, I know.

01:01:09   - That's so good, I'm so happy for you.

01:01:11   I really genuinely am.

01:01:13   I'm so happy to hear that.

01:01:15   - Yes, I'm extremely happy to hear that as well.

01:01:18   Although it only happened

01:01:19   because I had to split a thing into two,

01:01:20   but that's a whole other story.

01:01:21   - Hey, it doesn't matter.

01:01:22   That's the best kind of content, you know what I mean?

01:01:24   Content that doubles, great.

01:01:25   - Yeah, content that doubles.

01:01:27   Yeah, we'll get to that for my actual theme.

01:01:29   But considering it's like,

01:01:31   Okay, I am gonna get a video out for December, which is like my biggest single stress point

01:01:35   in the year and has been making me miserable all month.

01:01:38   Considering that my like, Runways video was basically a kind of two in one or three in

01:01:42   one, it's like, it's actually not terrible in terms of output per available work time.

01:01:50   So it's still not a good year, but I feel a lot less bad about it than like, oh, like,

01:01:58   I'm just a miserable loser who accomplished nothing.

01:02:00   It's like, no, no, a major impactful thing happened and all things considered, your output

01:02:07   per available units of time to work wasn't wildly affected by that.

01:02:13   I did have a bit of bad luck in that September I took a gradation and I did write a video

01:02:20   during this time.

01:02:21   We were kind of talking about this on one of the previous episodes where I was talking

01:02:24   about like, oh, there's like things the audience want, which might make a product worse.

01:02:28   I had written a video.

01:02:29   It was going to be like a 20-minute long thing, but I made the very difficult decision to

01:02:35   cut it for style reasons that were sort of related to this, of like, "This doesn't fit

01:02:40   in with the style.

01:02:41   I don't like it."

01:02:43   And so there is a kind of phantom video that was basically finished, and that also makes

01:02:48   me feel a little better.

01:02:50   Obviously, not publishing that doesn't help the business, but it does help in terms of

01:02:54   just thinking about, "Okay, I also have another metric for like, starting in September,

01:03:00   things are actually getting better." Not amazingly fast, but again, it's all about

01:03:05   the trend lines here. And also reviewing the year, I had kind of totally forgotten a bunch

01:03:11   of the things that I had done, which includes, under the umbrella of accepting the reality

01:03:18   of YouTube. Two projects. One of which was, "Hey, I'm gonna try out shorts." Which

01:03:25   is a thing that I did. It was a total disaster. But like, it was a disaster that I learned

01:03:32   from. I'm glad I did it. And it fell under this category of, "Don't just ignore new

01:03:37   things that you're grumpy about. Actually try them." With that one, again, I just

01:03:42   don't think it works for me for various reasons. I made two videos, I kind of had

01:03:46   a couple more in development and then quickly realized, "No, this is just awful." And

01:03:51   sharp-eyed viewers will notice that the shorts that we talked about earlier in the year don't

01:03:55   even exist on the channel anymore because they were so bad in terms of all of the metrics

01:04:00   I care about, they were actually net negative, so I removed them.

01:04:05   [laughter]

01:04:06   What was that big sigh for?

01:04:08   It's just so bad, right? Like, we try this thing, oh no, it made everything worse.

01:04:15   Yeah, yeah.

01:04:16   You never know though, right?

01:04:17   Like this might be something to come back to again in the future.

01:04:20   Clearly this is something YouTube doesn't want to go away and I think, you know, there's

01:04:25   more about like them doing revenue share and stuff, which is a thing that they're starting

01:04:28   to talk about.

01:04:30   Maybe one day it might have a different effect, but clearly for you right now, this is not

01:04:35   a thing to put energy into.

01:04:36   Yeah, yeah, of course.

01:04:38   As always, if the situation changes, like you're dumb if you don't reevaluate.

01:04:42   Of course.

01:04:43   But yes, even the things that I have seen that are the optimistic outcomes of that,

01:04:46   I'm like, "Oh, this is just awful."

01:04:48   But like, I was really glad to have done that.

01:04:50   The idea of leaning into YouTube and being a YouTuber, which is obviously one of the

01:04:54   big things we spoke about, and I think you're going to talk about something else in regards

01:04:57   to that, it doesn't mean you need to do everything.

01:04:59   Yeah, yeah, that's exactly right.

01:05:01   But you've got to try it though, that's the point.

01:05:03   Yes, yeah.

01:05:04   And it's like, I had spent years just being like a, you know, old man yells at Cloud about

01:05:09   shorts.

01:05:10   You're a YouTube hipster, that's what you were.

01:05:12   Yeah, and it was worth trying.

01:05:14   I reserve the right to try it again if the situation changes, but for various reasons

01:05:18   I just don't expect it will ever really work for me.

01:05:20   But that's also good because it just kind of focuses on, okay, do the things that you're

01:05:23   good at.

01:05:24   The second major thing, which again, I had just kind of like totally taken out of my

01:05:30   brain as this was a major project for the whole year, was redoing all of the thumbnails

01:05:37   and titles for almost every single one of the videos.

01:05:41   It's not complete. There's a few videos which are either like out of date or just not watched very much that still haven't made it into the rotation of worth spending time on for changing.

01:05:52   But I think like 90% of the video thumbnails and titles have been updated and changed over the course of the year.

01:06:00   Now, that sounds like it's not a huge deal. But this was a much bigger project than I anticipated.

01:06:08   Because I wanted to set up a bunch of systems for, okay, instead of just like randomly changing

01:06:14   things around, I need to have a system for like, which thumbnails Am I going to be trying?

01:06:21   Try to have a record of like, what works and what doesn't? Oh, if you were to just like,

01:06:26   change everything all at once that probably messes up all of the data for how anything

01:06:31   can possibly work. So like try to slowly roll this out over the course of the year. And

01:06:36   without a doubt, thumbnails saved my business this year, right? Like in terms of the lack

01:06:45   of uploads, the thumbnails and title changes acted as though I had uploaded several more

01:06:53   videos this year than I did. And I know that people hate it. They're like, "Oh my god,

01:06:59   why don't you just keep the same thumbnails and titles forever?"

01:07:01   I always think there's a new video. This is so confusing.

01:07:04   I'll get to that in a second. But it's a funny thing because I thought like, "Do

01:07:08   I really need to do this?" I don't think I do. And over the course of the year, slowly

01:07:12   rotating through everything and working on it with the animator and having the whole

01:07:16   team do the like, "Hey, can you think of a better title for this?" which is, we've

01:07:20   discussed before, is like surprisingly hard to do.

01:07:22   So hard. So hard to do.

01:07:25   Doing all of that like is just way more work than I thought it was. Here's an example of

01:07:30   what I'm going to call the most effective 10 minutes of my entire career. I don't think

01:07:38   I'll ever beat it. This is it. Like I've peaked in terms of efficiency. I wanted to update

01:07:45   my old video, which was about the Ticoi test range. Not the exploring video, but the video

01:07:51   explaining like, "Hey, what was this place that I explored?"

01:07:54   - Was that the CGP Grey was wrong one? - No, not the CGP Grey was wrong one. It's

01:07:59   the one that that one is correcting. So if you remember, I uploaded the original "Here's

01:08:04   What Ticoi Was" video. It had the mistake in it. I made "CGP Grey was wrong." I took

01:08:10   down the old video and then I uploaded a new video of Ticoi with the correction.

01:08:15   - Yes, it's actually the video that you wanted to make in the first place.

01:08:18   Yeah, yeah, yeah. So this is the one that explains like, "Oh, hey, it's the nuclear subs. I love the

01:08:22   animation that's in there that's like, there's 20 nuclear submarines and each one has eight missiles

01:08:26   and each missile has it has 20 warheads and it's like a million warheads to destroy the world,"

01:08:31   is that video. So it's like, "Oh, I want to update this one." I couldn't think of a good thumbnail

01:08:36   change. I actually quite like the thumbnail, but I did sit down like, "Okay, what can I do for this

01:08:40   video?" And I will admit this is the most clickbaity title of anything that's on the channel,

01:08:46   But it popped into my head.

01:08:47   I was like, "Oh, let me just try something that's kind of clickbaity,

01:08:52   but I do think it's legit."

01:08:53   The title was "This Abandoned Shed May Yet Help Destroy The World."

01:08:58   And then that video got 4 million views in a week.

01:09:01   What was it at before?

01:09:06   Point 7 million views.

01:09:10   So it went from 700,000 views to 4.7 million views in like a week.

01:09:17   And let me ask you though, right, so you got 4 million views, but like was it 4 million helpful views?

01:09:23   Because you could get 4 million views which is someone going click and close, right?

01:09:27   Yeah.

01:09:28   And then that's no good.

01:09:29   So part of the like new decades dawn thing is again taking stuff quite seriously

01:09:34   And underlaying this conversation about thumbnails is also a renewed focus on the behind-the-scenes

01:09:43   statistics of how the videos are doing.

01:09:46   And so one of the things while I'm changing the thumbnails is I was keeping a really sharp

01:09:50   eye on how is this actually affecting metrics that I care about?

01:09:55   Because that's exactly the thing that's like I don't want, right?

01:09:58   The thing that I was particularly afraid of, which if you go by comments on YouTube, you

01:10:03   will think is happening all the time is, oh, I'm actually just tricking existing viewers

01:10:09   to watch the thing and they abandon it immediately. So one of the things I was trying to avoid

01:10:15   was making thumbnail or title changes. And if what I saw on the back end was, oh, there's

01:10:22   a bump in viewers, but they're all returning viewers. There are people who already watched

01:10:26   this before. That's a bad one. And I'm going to change that. Like that's not what I want

01:10:30   at all to be the case. What I'm trying to have is have YouTube actually show that to

01:10:35   new people. And the T-Koi one was like comically successful in terms of YouTube showing it

01:10:42   to new people. I don't remember offhand what the ratio was, but it was crazy good for like,

01:10:47   oh, there's a surprisingly few number of existing viewers who are watching this. And like, I

01:10:53   think basically YouTube with that title change was able to find some subsection of, I imagine

01:11:00   like urbex enthusiasts or whatever who were just like interested in this video who otherwise

01:11:05   would never have clicked on it.

01:11:07   What's that word?

01:11:08   People who like exploring abandoned structures.

01:11:10   Urban exploration.

01:11:11   Yeah.

01:11:12   Cool, cool, cool, cool.

01:11:13   That's kind of my theory about what happens looking at some of the demographics.

01:11:17   I think that might be true as well.

01:11:18   Yeah, so anyway, when people are like, "I don't want you to change the thumbnails.

01:11:23   It's annoying.

01:11:24   I liked your old thumbnails better."

01:11:25   The thing from this year that hits multiple bullet points is, number one, because so many

01:11:30   of these videos are like eight years old or seven years old, I didn't really realize just how terrible

01:11:37   many of those thumbnails were. The number of thumbnails I had that were just the title in like

01:11:42   block cap letters as the thumbnail itself was surprisingly high. Why did I do this? It's like,

01:11:50   oh right, because I used to be a one-person team and subscriptions used to matter more,

01:11:55   So the thumbnails just didn't matter at all.

01:11:58   And so lots of stuff in the back catalogue,

01:12:02   I was like, "Oh, this is awful!"

01:12:03   Like, and I just didn't know.

01:12:05   Like, we've got to update these things.

01:12:06   And it's made a huge difference.

01:12:08   I mean, like, your top videos list now

01:12:11   is so incredibly different to this time last year.

01:12:16   Canada and the United States Bizarre Border,

01:12:19   22 million views.

01:12:20   You know what, like, that...

01:12:21   Where was that video before?

01:12:23   I don't even remember, but that's another one that was just bizarrely successful with a slight thumbnail and title change.

01:12:30   So the T-Coy one is, again, that's my most effective 10 minutes.

01:12:34   Like, I am never gonna beat that in terms of how effective any single thing is that I've ever done in my entire life.

01:12:40   It was like that single moment.

01:12:42   But lots of these. Changing them to make the old ones better.

01:12:45   Keeping an eye on the analytics to make sure that, while yes, there will always be people who are annoyed because they thought there was a new video and they clicked on it.

01:12:52   and they clicked on it, making sure that that is not the majority case behind the scenes

01:12:57   and that people who are finding this are actually finding it engaging. Doing that was so good

01:13:05   for the channel overall that like it's almost unbelievable for me to say the thing that

01:13:10   I'm going to say here, which is so last year I had a sub theme which was a billionaire

01:13:16   bust as like, this is a long term career goal that I have, which is, I would like the YouTube

01:13:23   channel to hit a billion views. Felt like a real target. What?

01:13:29   I just looked at your number. Yeah, so this year, while it has been in terms

01:13:33   of uploads, the worst year since I started YouTube, I've added 160 million views almost

01:13:42   entirely by updating thumbnails and titles.

01:13:45   You crushed it! You crushed the theme!

01:13:46   I am ahead of schedule for hitting a billion views by like a year and a half even though

01:13:55   I had just an abysmal year in terms of actual video production. So when people go like,

01:14:01   why do you change the thumbnails? This is not an exaggeration. The business would have

01:14:06   been like in financial trouble if I hadn't updated thumbnails and titles this year. Like

01:14:11   is how much of a difference it made. It made such a difference that it was more views than

01:14:18   many years in which I've uploaded more. It was absolutely shocking.

01:14:23   - Because the question is, right, I guess you don't know, and I would wonder what your gut

01:14:27   check is on this. Like, if you continually keep changing the thumbnails of existing videos,

01:14:34   you wouldn't expect to add 100 million a year every year, would you?

01:14:39   or would you? No, no, no. So I'm actually feel like this was incredibly good timing in a way

01:14:43   that I had this year where I was just really unable to do work. But this is the kind of admin work

01:14:50   that I could do. And I was really consistent about this is an important thing. You need to do this on

01:14:56   a recurring basis. And again, I think for someone who doesn't have to deal with the YouTube back end,

01:15:02   you could think like, what's the big deal? It's actually like a huge pain in the ass to actually

01:15:05   keep track of this. Like it is a surprising amount of work to know if you're doing it right or not.

01:15:09   - I will never understand. No one will ever be able to explain to me why I cannot upload

01:15:14   multiple thumbnails and they just tell me which one is the best. Like this is called AB testing.

01:15:19   It is the most simple of testing. Why can't and they like the system drives me crazy.

01:15:27   - Yeah, yeah. Don't even don't even get started on that. But like,

01:15:30   So it was a surprising amount of work, but I also think it was well-timed for a year

01:15:36   when I was just gonna be really bad and limited in my time for writing to do this, because

01:15:42   I think it almost perfectly worked out that I went through and updated almost everything

01:15:49   on the channel basically by September, which is when I started to be able to get back into

01:15:56   to a somewhat, although still a little bit limited, working schedule. And I think 90%

01:16:03   of the gains that were possible to be made by changing and updating titles and thumbnails

01:16:08   has been made this year. So I think this was like a one-time effect. I don't, I do not

01:16:14   think this is an ongoing thing. I can't keep doing this to hit the billion views, and I

01:16:20   actually have the data to support that because I'm keeping track of it. Like, okay, each

01:16:25   time now I've been changing stuff, the pattern is much much less noticeable. I think that's

01:16:31   because so many of my old titles and thumbnails were just legitimately bad and the videos

01:16:36   were kind of succeeding in spite of themselves. I was like, "Hey, what if you did this but

01:16:43   it was good?" You know, like, just make the thumbnail better.

01:16:46   Will you keep doing it though anyway? Well, so I think what this really is more

01:16:52   about is this has been a year about internalizing and just accepting and stop complaining like

01:16:59   a little baby about the title thumbnail system on YouTube. Like just just accept that this

01:17:04   is what this is. I've had a year of learning what seems to work and what doesn't seem to

01:17:10   work on the channel. Oftentimes it is confusing. You can be like, why on earth does this one

01:17:14   work so well? But like whatever. I think there's an overall general idea of what seems to work.

01:17:20   I think if you also just like again sort by popular and look at those thumbnails, I think

01:17:25   there's a kind of consistency to them now, which wasn't so much the case before.

01:17:29   I do think that they're just better.

01:17:31   And so I had been doing it anyway, but I think this is really much just more informing the

01:17:38   future videos that go up of like, how am I going to try to do the titles and thumbnails?

01:17:43   And this is a really important part of the process and that's fine.

01:17:48   That's the way the system works.

01:17:50   And the other thing that I kind of forgot is how I was also taking this and, as best

01:17:58   I could, applying it to the Cortex YouTube channel as well.

01:18:03   And so, frankly, for years, like, I think neither of us had just really thought about

01:18:08   the Cortex channel very much.

01:18:10   It was just like, a thing we have because probably some people would want to listen

01:18:15   to it that way.

01:18:16   And that was true, there was a number of thousands of people that would listen to every episode

01:18:20   on YouTube. Yeah. So we just did it. It just existed there. You know, we made the decision

01:18:25   to bring in like the Cortex animated on the official channel. But I think that was like

01:18:30   the only decision we really ever made in terms of like, what can we do to make this channel

01:18:35   better? But this year while I was working on my own channel, I have spent more time

01:18:41   on the Cortex back end that in all of the previous years combined by a factor of 100

01:18:48   And doing the same thing doing a lot of like back end tweaks to cortex.

01:18:53   Anyone on YouTube will notice like I've been going through that back catalogue and trying

01:18:56   to pick out episodes where the analytics are really positive for new viewers and giving

01:19:02   those custom thumbnails and tweaking a lot of little things to try to make it better.

01:19:07   And it's the same thing there of this year by actively messing around with it.

01:19:12   And really trying to again, take it seriously like this is a serious part of cortex.

01:19:18   of the numbers for Cortex YouTube channel are like comically up year over year.

01:19:22   It's great. It's really funny. It's totally absurd and that's also a thing like I kind

01:19:28   of discounted, "Oh you've spent a huge amount of time working to make the Cortex channel

01:19:34   actually useful this year by applying what you know from the main channel to this?"

01:19:41   And it's been stupidly successful. It's like there's a whole other audience for the Cortex

01:19:46   podcast that exists on YouTube that just wouldn't be there without this work and just making

01:19:53   it easy for people to get onboarded with like, hey, instead of having the exact same thumbnail

01:20:00   for 100 episodes, maybe make some custom thumbnails for the episodes that are more intriguing

01:20:07   for a new viewer. And it's like just that alone has made a big deal. And I can see like,

01:20:12   With the channel just being more alive, it also seems like YouTube is slowly recommending those Cortex animated to more viewers who just don't know anything at all about the channel.

01:20:23   It's like, here's just a funny video to watch. And then you can start getting brought into the fold of like, oh, if you like these videos, what do they come from? They come from the full episodes of Cortex.

01:20:33   So, that's kind of my summary of how this year has been and how it's gone.

01:20:38   It's been kind of miserable.

01:20:40   I haven't wanted to talk about that, and I've been real bummed out about it, but I'm also

01:20:46   just so happy to have done this review and to be able to objectively look at what happened,

01:20:55   has actually occurred and feel like this year could have been so much worse if I didn't

01:21:04   have this idea in the back of my mind. But I also did spend a lot of time kind of thinking

01:21:11   about what does my work mean on this channel? How do I want things to change? And I'll talk

01:21:18   about that in the theme section, but the year went better than I thought it had, and I accomplished

01:21:24   more than I thought I had, even if it was not my sort of dreams at the beginning of

01:21:30   the year of everything that could happen that were just cut short by COVID.

01:21:37   I think that your theme was a huge success.

01:21:41   That's very kind of you to say, Myke.

01:21:43   No, I mean it because if you would not have approached 2022 with the idea of committing

01:21:52   to YouTube, as you said you would be in a really bad situation right now. Financially,

01:22:00   mentally you would be in a much worse position and what you have achieved because you approached

01:22:08   the year with this mindset is truly astounding. 160 million views this year because you decided

01:22:17   that you were committing to YouTube and you were going to change thumbnails and titles

01:22:21   is an astronomical achievement that you would not have done if you did not commit to that

01:22:29   idea because as you said right like it took you having reviewed the last decade to be

01:22:35   like all right I shouldn't take this for granted I'm a youtuber and being a youtuber means

01:22:41   this this and this that's the important part because to you being a youtuber before 2022

01:22:46   was just like I make videos.

01:22:49   Well, you didn't make any.

01:22:50   - Yeah.

01:22:51   - So if you wouldn't have committed to

01:22:54   some of the other things that it takes to being a YouTuber,

01:22:58   to running a YouTube business,

01:23:01   your year would have been an absolute disaster

01:23:05   where I think you can look at it to be like professionally

01:23:10   a great success, even though the core part,

01:23:15   not really much seemed to have changed.

01:23:17   - Okay, I'm happy to take that.

01:23:19   (laughs)

01:23:20   - You can't, 160 million views can be nothing but a success.

01:23:24   It doesn't matter how you got there.

01:23:25   - Yeah, yeah, yeah.

01:23:26   No, you're right, you're right.

01:23:27   - It's not like you went and bought them.

01:23:29   You did a thing that you were supposed to be doing.

01:23:33   - Yeah, that is what I mean by the year could have gone

01:23:35   so much worse.

01:23:36   And if I didn't have a theme that was related

01:23:39   to thinking about this, we'd be having to like,

01:23:42   I'm just packing it in.

01:23:43   It's all over folks, right?

01:23:45   - There's a fire sale on the CGP Grey channel.

01:23:48   Every video is half off.

01:23:50   - Yeah.

01:23:51   But yeah, so no, it did work out and I'm also very happy

01:23:57   about the success for Cortex as well.

01:23:58   - Yeah, me too.

01:23:59   Yeah, I would say like it's been a,

01:24:01   for Cortex the podcast, Cortex brand, the business,

01:24:04   2022 has been excellent.

01:24:07   We have focused the show in a bunch of different ways

01:24:10   and I'm very happy with the output of the show.

01:24:13   The YouTube channel is going from strength to strength.

01:24:16   We have videos on the YouTube channel

01:24:19   that are approaching half a million views,

01:24:21   which is a thing that I never could have imagined

01:24:23   in my life.

01:24:25   - Yeah, it is crazy.

01:24:26   - That something with my voice in it

01:24:29   has been heard half a million times is astounding to me.

01:24:34   It is a goal I never had,

01:24:37   'cause I just never thought it would be possible, right?

01:24:40   And so that's such a cool thing.

01:24:41   And sales on the journals, as our core business,

01:24:45   have continued to increase.

01:24:47   Our daily sales rate has continued to-- it's been great.

01:24:51   So all of that part of our business

01:24:54   has been going really good.

01:24:55   And I'm very, very happy with it.

01:24:56   And it's because we're both focusing on the business

01:25:00   in new and different ways.

01:25:01   And so I think that that's great.

01:25:03   And so I'm happy that this YouTube stuff is trickling down

01:25:07   to the channel.

01:25:08   it's improving everything. Like the audio listenership is up this year which hasn't happened in a long time.

01:25:13   Yeah it's totally a thing where improving the Cortex YouTube channel is one of the ways that I

01:25:19   recognized "oh I can help Cortex brand in this very direct way" that I just kind of hadn't internalized

01:25:28   before and that's also been part of the motivation for like "oh hey I'm just gonna take charge of

01:25:34   everything behind the scenes on the Cortex channel and like fiddling around with it and trying to make

01:25:40   it as good as possible because that directly translates into sales for Cortex brand and

01:25:47   people getting journals and hopefully our future products as well and that's also an important

01:25:53   thing to do in a year where maybe you didn't upload and I also think is an important thing

01:25:58   to do going forward into the future. But we can talk about that in a bit. So I would like to hear

01:26:05   what your theme is going to be for 2023. This episode of Cortex is brought to you by our

01:26:11   friends at Memberfall, the easiest way to sell memberships to your audience used by the biggest

01:26:15   creators on the web to generate sustainable recurring income while diversifying your revenue

01:26:20   stream. You will have heard us talking about MoreTax on the show before and the Relay FM

01:26:25   membership program. All of this is powered by Memberful. They make it incredibly easy for us

01:26:31   to generate extra revenue stream and deliver bonus content to more Texans so they can check out longer

01:26:37   ad-free versions of the show. If you're focusing for your yearly theme as a content creator on

01:26:43   diversification or stability, maybe you want to expand the ways that you're able to make money

01:26:48   and support yourself and support your family, Memberful is a fantastic place to go. Maybe

01:26:53   Maybe you're already producing content and relying on advertising or other means of income.

01:26:58   Membafool make it incredibly easy to diversify that with everything you need to run a membership

01:27:02   program of your own.

01:27:03   They have custom branding, gift subscriptions, Apple Pay, free trials, private podcasts and

01:27:08   tons more while leaving you with full control and ownership of everything that relates to

01:27:12   your audience, brand and membership.

01:27:14   So we do podcasts here right, so we have extra bonus podcast content.

01:27:18   But there's tons of things you can use Membafool for.

01:27:20   For example, paid email newsletters.

01:27:22   You can send these directly through memberful to your subscribers, you don't need to connect

01:27:25   to a third party email provider, and you can even have your newsletter content hosted on

01:27:30   a memberful website so people can go and read previous issues.

01:27:34   There's no additional fee when you're signed up for memberful's pro or premium plans and

01:27:38   you'll save money compared to other hosted newsletter platforms.

01:27:41   We have been so happy with memberful, they have everything we need, their analytics and

01:27:45   statistics are fantastic, and their tools for managing the administration of members

01:27:49   and stuff like that. It's all top notch. Super happy. If you want to do one of these for

01:27:54   yourself this year, go check out Membrful. Go to Membrful.com/Cortex and you can get

01:27:59   started for free with no credit card required. That's Membrful.com/Cortex. Go there now and

01:28:04   check it out. This could be the start of something exciting. Our thanks to Membrful for their

01:28:08   support of this show and Relay FM.

01:28:12   The year of the weekend.

01:28:13   Oh, interesting. Okay.

01:28:16   Here's my description.

01:28:17   Alright.

01:28:18   In a continued attempt to bring more structure to my life,

01:28:22   I am going to address my ever creeping work-life balance issues

01:28:26   by intentionally observing the most simple of work structures.

01:28:31   The weekend.

01:28:32   I like it! It's very straightforward.

01:28:34   Very straightforward.

01:28:36   [Laughter]

01:28:37   And in a way that makes it difficult.

01:28:39   Okay, what do you mean by that?

01:28:40   So this is one of the things that I've been toying with,

01:28:43   because essentially as I was going through a lot of stuff,

01:28:46   I was realizing that what I needed was more intentional time not working.

01:28:53   And the thing that I kept bumping up against is like, typically you have two

01:29:00   days off a week. That is a thing that tends to happen in most typical

01:29:05   employment, but it's not a thing that I have done in I do not know how many

01:29:10   years because like when I was actually full-time employed I would use weekends

01:29:14   to work on the podcasting stuff, right?

01:29:17   - Of course.

01:29:18   - But when I was thinking about this idea

01:29:21   of moral intentional time off, weekend, weekend, weekend,

01:29:24   was the word that kept popping up in my head, right?

01:29:27   But the concern that I had with the framing of this theme

01:29:31   came back to the, well, a weekend is two days, right?

01:29:35   And if I'm thinking like I need to have a weekend every week

01:29:39   that is a more resolutiony than theming

01:29:43   because I don't, and what I'm not saying,

01:29:45   I'm gonna take two days off every seven days

01:29:49   because if I do that, then I'm setting myself up to fail.

01:29:54   - Of course.

01:29:54   - By saying that's going to happen.

01:29:56   So it is more of an attitude

01:29:59   than a fixed amount of time off.

01:30:02   So for me, what it is about more than two days off

01:30:07   every Saturday and Sunday,

01:30:10   It's about going back to the basics of a typical work structure for me.

01:30:15   I think the easiest way that I can address my work-life balance is to adopt more of a fundamental balance of like,

01:30:22   there are days where I'm not working.

01:30:26   And like that is the typical idea.

01:30:29   My ideal plan of course is that every seven day period there's five working days and two rest days.

01:30:35   It would be incredible if I could do that.

01:30:37   but I am fully expecting that this will not be a thing

01:30:40   I can achieve 52 times a year.

01:30:44   It is more about, for me, if I can take more days

01:30:49   when there is this mindset that I am not working,

01:30:54   that is the real goal, because that is not a thing that I do

01:31:00   and it is not a thing that I have done

01:31:03   for a really long time that like,

01:31:05   "Hey, I'm just not gonna work today and I'm gonna be okay with that."

01:31:09   Like that's something that I struggle with.

01:31:11   I treat basically every single day with the same attitude.

01:31:16   There's always work to be done.

01:31:18   I'm willing to do work and I'm willing to take on anything that might appear.

01:31:22   That is my general attitude to every single day

01:31:27   and I don't want that to be my 365 day a year attitude anymore.

01:31:34   Now, because really for me, no matter how much structure I put in place in my life,

01:31:40   I have the tendency to allow new things to creep into it.

01:31:45   So if I reframe what a typical week looks like for me, and part of that is rest, I feel

01:31:53   like this will help keep more of a consistency for me.

01:31:57   If I have decided that this coming Tuesday is going to be a rest day, I can't book things

01:32:04   in on that Tuesday.

01:32:06   So I have to find somewhere else in the week.

01:32:08   If they don't fit, I can't do them.

01:32:10   Do you have an idea for how you're going to make that decision about this coming Tuesday

01:32:16   is going to be a day off?

01:32:18   The way that I'm starting this is I will have my weekends on the weekend.

01:32:23   the easiest way for me to do this and then when there is work that happens on

01:32:28   the weekend which is typically us it's cortex stuff we tend to record not on

01:32:34   the weekend but then I edit over the weekend yeah and so in those situations

01:32:39   I will then look at my calendar and be like great I'm now gonna take Tuesday

01:32:43   as a day off typically it's going to be Saturdays and Sundays but when

01:32:49   Saturdays and Sundays need to be used for work I would then take a following

01:32:53   day off and this comes from when I used to work in the bank if you worked on Saturday

01:32:58   you would take a day in lieu it was called in either the following week or the or the

01:33:03   week coming up and so I will make my decision that way you know like am I going to take

01:33:08   a day off this week or am I going to take a day off next week I'm going to be a bit

01:33:11   more flexible like that because that is a way I know how to work because it's how I

01:33:16   used to work yeah that's like an approach that I'm used to yeah I was kind of wondering

01:33:20   if some kind of debit system is a way to think

01:33:24   about tracking it of like, "Ooh, I'm way overdue

01:33:27   "because I've missed these days."

01:33:28   But that's like a much simpler start

01:33:30   of like the concept of a day in lieu, if you miss one.

01:33:33   - With the easiest thing for me of just like trying

01:33:35   to just keep Saturdays and Sundays, right?

01:33:37   Like, because that is the easiest way to do this

01:33:40   because typically people are not working Saturdays

01:33:42   and Sundays in general.

01:33:44   And so like, that's how I'm gonna start.

01:33:46   I like your idea of like the weekend Wednesday idea

01:33:50   that we spoke about before.

01:33:51   And that might be something I move more towards

01:33:54   once I understand a little bit more

01:33:55   about how this is gonna go for me.

01:33:57   Like that's something,

01:33:58   'cause I think for me personally,

01:34:00   it would be better to not have those two days back to back.

01:34:04   But I wanna settle into this a little more

01:34:07   before I move into that.

01:34:09   - Yeah, yeah, I think that makes sense.

01:34:11   I like the weekend Wednesday thing

01:34:13   because I do think the two days back to back,

01:34:15   especially if you're self-employed

01:34:17   is just very weirdly not optimal

01:34:19   If you're in the situation that you're in,

01:34:21   which is basically you never take weekends,

01:34:23   anything is significantly more optimal than that.

01:34:27   And yeah, just going with a regular schedule

01:34:29   is not a bad place to start.

01:34:31   - And it's not that like on Saturdays and Sundays,

01:34:34   I'm recording four podcasts each,

01:34:36   that's not how I am now, it's not how I've been,

01:34:39   but it's my mindset that needs to change.

01:34:42   Of like, I might not work on a Saturday,

01:34:45   but that's not how I approach that day.

01:34:48   - Yes, yeah.

01:34:49   Like I wasn't thinking I'm not gonna work today.

01:34:52   And then I also have a guilt.

01:34:54   I wanna get rid of the guilt.

01:34:56   That's part of this, right?

01:34:57   Like allowing myself to do this is removing the guilt.

01:35:01   And like the year of structure helped me remove

01:35:04   some of that guilt.

01:35:05   Where I would just sit and play a video game

01:35:07   for an hour or two hours in the middle of my day,

01:35:09   I allowed myself to not feel guilty about that

01:35:11   because there was a reason I was doing it.

01:35:14   That for me, taking that time in the middle of the day

01:35:17   would help me be more effective

01:35:18   because I was taking proper breaks but also like understanding that my work

01:35:23   time is weird where you know you may do a nine-to-five right well I may do a

01:35:28   ten-to-eight mm-hmm which is weird and longer right so I'll take two hours off

01:35:35   in the middle mm-hmm be a bit more normal about what a work amount of

01:35:39   working hours would be like but they would be split in the middle by a nice

01:35:43   break of my own I'm being realistic that even on my weekend days like I know me

01:35:48   me, I'm going to check my phone, I'll respond to some messages here and there.

01:35:53   But at its core for me, this is no fixed appointments on my calendar, no regular project work.

01:36:02   So like a weekend day I'm not going to be having a call with someone about something,

01:36:06   I'm not going to be editing, I'm not going to be preparing for a show, my typical work

01:36:11   stuff.

01:36:12   But I'm not always going to be like, alright it's Thursday, it's a weekend day for me today,

01:36:17   I'm putting my phone in a drawer.

01:36:19   Because I know myself and I know that

01:36:23   even when I'm on vacation,

01:36:25   I'll answer the occasional message, but I can relax.

01:36:27   I can be completely relaxed and see a message in Slack

01:36:30   and just respond to it and just let it go.

01:36:33   I can do that.

01:36:34   That is the skill that I have.

01:36:36   I'm able to do it.

01:36:37   It's more that I need that mindset more when I'm at home.

01:36:42   Like when I'm on vacation, that mindset's easy for me.

01:36:45   of like, I've chosen to relax here,

01:36:48   oh, someone needs something, here's that thing,

01:36:50   you can just carry on with your day, right?

01:36:53   So I'm just about bringing some of that

01:36:55   more into every week of being able to be like,

01:37:00   all right, I'm choosing to be off today.

01:37:01   If you need me, you can get me,

01:37:03   but like I'm not gonna be guilty

01:37:05   that I'm not doing prep for upgrade today

01:37:08   or whatever it is, right?

01:37:09   That's kind of like the biggest part of it.

01:37:12   - I think that's a good case of knowing yourself.

01:37:15   Like it's been interesting knowing you over the years because I was originally

01:37:19   quite doubtful of your ability to like get messages and, you know, just respond

01:37:25   to them and not have it impact you.

01:37:27   But I think this was totally a case of me overestimating how much like me you are in

01:37:32   this regard, whereas like for me, that's just terrible and like ruins a day off

01:37:36   and like really derails me.

01:37:37   But I've observed you long enough to see that like, no, you totally can do that.

01:37:41   Like you can flip a message and it just doesn't affect your day in the slightest.

01:37:45   And I think that's great to not go super hard on the weekend in terms of like a fantasy

01:37:53   pure version of no work is going to happen.

01:37:56   It's like no no, you know you, this is fine, you can answer messages, it's no big deal

01:38:00   and if you're just not doing major project work that's already a huge step in the right

01:38:06   direction.

01:38:07   It doesn't need to be like a pure day to be a success.

01:38:09   Because there are messages that I can get that can derail my day, but they tend to be

01:38:14   big enough that I should know about them.

01:38:17   Something can happen and it can ruin what would otherwise be a day off, but that's

01:38:21   typically something that I should know about if that's the case.

01:38:24   Yeah, you're in the position where you can have like emergencies in a way that my work

01:38:29   just doesn't have.

01:38:31   So yes, you can be derailed, but there's almost no scenario in which you wouldn't

01:38:36   want to be derailed by whatever the message was doing.

01:38:37   - If something bad enough is happening,

01:38:39   I kind of would like to know,

01:38:40   'cause maybe I can help, you know?

01:38:43   But like with this, of like no fixed appointments,

01:38:46   no large projects, there might be choices

01:38:49   that I make to work on something,

01:38:52   but there are a couple of criteria for this.

01:38:55   It should not be at the expense of doing something else,

01:38:58   and it should be novel.

01:38:59   So for me, there is something that fits perfectly

01:39:03   in this category, which is product design

01:39:06   for Cortex brand.

01:39:07   Which is a thing that I always want to spend more time on.

01:39:12   And this is like, if I have like an idea

01:39:15   that's bubbling away and I've got a day off,

01:39:17   if I'm like, that's nothing I want to play,

01:39:20   this is my mom watching, Dina's busy with something.

01:39:23   That is the kind of work that I'm going to do

01:39:25   if I'm going to do anything.

01:39:26   Which is like, I'm going to get out my iPad

01:39:30   and I'm going to draw out the layout

01:39:32   for a new notebook design or whatever, you know?

01:39:35   I'm going to do some research into a thing.

01:39:37   'Cause at the moment, that kind of work still feels like

01:39:41   novel, exciting, fun work for me because it's new work

01:39:44   and it's a skill that I'm trying to build and I enjoy that.

01:39:48   So like that's the kind of stuff, if I'm going to do anything

01:39:51   would be my ideal kind of stuff to do.

01:39:53   But that's not what the main outcome of these days are.

01:39:57   That's still for me to talk about in a minute.

01:39:59   It's like the likelihood of me getting to that

01:40:01   is slim based on all the other stuff I want to do.

01:40:03   But like, that's the idea that like,

01:40:04   if work is ever going to be done on these days,

01:40:07   that's the ideal kind of work that's done,

01:40:09   but I don't know how realistic it's going to be

01:40:12   for me to get to that work

01:40:13   with all the other things I want to do.

01:40:15   - Oh, okay, so you have a bunch of plans then

01:40:17   for the weekend. - Yes.

01:40:17   - Okay, I was like, yeah, I had a couple of questions,

01:40:20   but no, so tell me what your plans are first.

01:40:22   - All right, so this is Handyman Myke.

01:40:24   - Oh!

01:40:25   - This is where Handyman Myke comes in, right?

01:40:27   - With a hammer in his jeans.

01:40:29   - Exactly, the jean hammer guy.

01:40:31   I wanna be able to commit more time to my family life,

01:40:36   to my home life and to my social life.

01:40:39   That's what all of this is for.

01:40:41   I've been in a new home for like three weeks

01:40:44   and there's a lot to do and I'm enjoying it.

01:40:48   I'm enjoying turning my attention to home projects.

01:40:51   I've been replacing some door handles.

01:40:53   - Ooh.

01:40:54   - You know, like these are things,

01:40:56   I didn't know how to replace a door handle.

01:40:58   I've never tried.

01:40:59   I would have, you know what, I never tried to do that before.

01:41:01   It's a very simple thing and I did it.

01:41:03   And I'm like, great, I know how to do that now.

01:41:05   And like there are little things like that

01:41:07   that I'm turning my hand to that I'm finding enjoyment in.

01:41:11   Obviously setting up smart home devices

01:41:13   is a thing that I'm enjoying and doing,

01:41:14   but I knew that I was gonna enjoy and do that.

01:41:17   But I'm also enjoying to do other things.

01:41:19   Building furniture, I knew how to do that

01:41:21   and I enjoy it as much as the next guy.

01:41:23   Like it's a fun thing to do, it has a value,

01:41:26   but there are little projects in the home right now

01:41:28   that I'm doing that are completely new to me,

01:41:31   things I'd never tried to do before,

01:41:33   and I'm enjoying learning how to maintain a home.

01:41:38   We have a garden.

01:41:41   - Oh.

01:41:42   - And dealing with everything that comes,

01:41:45   I had to buy a broom.

01:41:47   (laughing)

01:41:49   'Cause there's leaves, it's like,

01:41:50   how do I get rid of the leaves?

01:41:51   I guess I get a broom.

01:41:53   - Do you mean a rake, Myke?

01:41:54   Is that what you mean?

01:41:55   - Nope.

01:41:56   - A broom?

01:41:56   - Like an outdoors broom.

01:41:58   - You mean a rake, that's what a rake is.

01:42:00   - No, no, no, no, rakes are metal.

01:42:02   This is wood and it has like very coarse wire brush.

01:42:07   - Okay.

01:42:09   - Right?

01:42:10   - See look, look, I'm not as handy as you,

01:42:12   so I don't know what these tools are.

01:42:14   - Right, but the front garden is concrete.

01:42:16   I can't use a rake on that.

01:42:17   - Hmm, okay.

01:42:18   - If I rake the concrete, I ruin the concrete

01:42:21   and everyone's enjoyment in the neighborhood.

01:42:23   - Right, okay.

01:42:24   - Right, so it's like sweeping, I need to sweep.

01:42:26   rake for the back garden, 'cause there's grass there.

01:42:29   - Okay.

01:42:30   - But the front is paved, it's like concrete,

01:42:31   so you can't use a rake on that.

01:42:34   So I'm using a brew and it's like,

01:42:36   this is the thing that like,

01:42:37   I guess this is what you do and I did it

01:42:39   and like, great, that's how you do that.

01:42:41   So lots of little things.

01:42:42   I lived in an apartment, you know, for years

01:42:46   and before that it was in a family home

01:42:48   and I wasn't responsible for these things

01:42:50   and I'm now responsible for these things

01:42:52   and owning a home is very different

01:42:55   to owning an apartment I'm realizing.

01:42:57   And there's a lot more stuff that you need to do

01:42:59   or stuff that you don't need to do, but you want to do.

01:43:02   - You're king of your castle now.

01:43:03   - I sure am.

01:43:04   - And you have a whole domain under your responsibility.

01:43:07   - And I am enjoying it greatly.

01:43:09   And I want to be proud of my home

01:43:13   because this is what I wanted.

01:43:14   And this have gotten what I wanted

01:43:16   and now I want to take care of it and treat it well.

01:43:19   And then it will treat us well.

01:43:21   And so that's a big thing

01:43:23   I want to turn my attention to. This is one of the very key parts but the other things that I want is

01:43:30   I have done a very bad job in my life of spending time with my friends. This has been a thing that

01:43:41   I've been very bad at over the last 10 years. I do not make enough effort and I want to make more

01:43:49   effort. One of the excuses that I give is that I am so busy. Well, I'm making more

01:43:57   time. So in that time I should be able to go see friends, have lunches, have dinners.

01:44:06   Whatever it is, I should be able to make that time more easily. I don't have a lot

01:44:12   of friends in London, but some of the people I hold dearest to me live in

01:44:16   London, you being one of them. We see each other so infrequently.

01:44:20   Yeah, we're both awful at this. We're both terrible at it, but if one of us is

01:44:26   going to try harder then maybe it will be easier. Right. Because we so frequently

01:44:31   say we should get lunch and then we don't do it. Yeah. Until we're out of the

01:44:34   country and meet each other in California somewhere. It's always a terrible sign, yeah.

01:44:39   But like if I am going to make more time it's more likely I'm gonna find a time

01:44:46   when you were also available, right?

01:44:48   - Yeah.

01:44:49   - If that's a change that I'm making in my life.

01:44:51   - We can both do weekends on weird days

01:44:53   because I already do weekends on Wednesday.

01:44:55   - Yep.

01:44:56   And again, it's like, if that's the case,

01:44:58   I can plan around that more effectively, right?

01:45:00   Like if you tell me I'm gonna be available

01:45:03   on this Thursday and three weeks from now, great.

01:45:06   I can now structure my week to make sure

01:45:08   that's one of my weekend days or whatever.

01:45:10   And also like I'm in a part of London

01:45:13   that I've wanted to be in for a while

01:45:16   and it's more what I wanted,

01:45:18   and I want to experience that area more

01:45:21   and put more roots in there.

01:45:22   Similarly, like you said a phrase on our last episode,

01:45:26   which I haven't been able to get out of my head,

01:45:28   outside with wife time.

01:45:31   - Oh, right, you like that.

01:45:32   - I'm like, I want to do that.

01:45:34   Now I'm not gonna time track it, but I want to do it.

01:45:38   And it's like, it was such a simple phrase of like,

01:45:41   yes, me and Idina spend time at home,

01:45:43   but we can also spend time outside of home.

01:45:46   - Yes, and it's fundamentally different.

01:45:48   - Yes, and it's great.

01:45:50   Look, I'm sure all couples will understand this.

01:45:52   The types of conversations that you will have

01:45:54   at a restaurant dinner table are very different

01:45:58   to what you will have at home.

01:45:59   Because when you're at home, you can watch TV.

01:46:02   I want to do more of that as well in my life.

01:46:05   And I think that that will be a great thing

01:46:09   that I can do if my weekends are free.

01:46:11   - The number of pivotal relationship conversations

01:46:15   that have happened inside the house

01:46:18   versus outside the house, that's a shocking ratio, right?

01:46:22   It's just, you have a different kind of conversation

01:46:25   when you're on a long car drive together

01:46:27   or you're out in a park together or something.

01:46:30   It is, it's totally just different.

01:46:32   And yeah, it's good for a relationship.

01:46:35   - So obviously part of this is I need to be smarter

01:46:37   about my scheduling.

01:46:38   And so one of the things that I've been thinking about

01:46:41   is there's some stuff that I can probably do

01:46:46   while I'm at home.

01:46:47   Like if I have like one thing to do in a day,

01:46:49   maybe I can just take care of it at home

01:46:51   and then get on with the rest of the things

01:46:52   I might wanna do at home.

01:46:53   So like some stuff might be like half days,

01:46:57   which are kind of weekend days.

01:47:00   But the bigger part of that is not coming to the studio

01:47:05   for a whole day for one thing,

01:47:07   which I've been doing for a while.

01:47:09   Like I have a one, say I've got a podcast recording

01:47:12   in the evening, well then coming to the studio

01:47:15   at nine or 10 and being here all the way until eight,

01:47:19   when like I don't need to do that.

01:47:21   - Oof, yeah.

01:47:22   - Right, so what I'm now gonna try and do

01:47:25   is combine some of that stuff more,

01:47:27   so I'm more likely to be, if I'm here,

01:47:30   like working on stuff for the whole time,

01:47:32   and then the next day be at home all day,

01:47:34   because I've combined these days together a little more.

01:47:38   So that's like a thing about being smart.

01:47:40   Like if someone wants to have a call with me,

01:47:43   well, I'm only gonna allow that call to occur

01:47:45   on a day where I already have something else,

01:47:48   so I'm not breaking up the week in word-wise.

01:47:52   So I'm gonna see how that goes.

01:47:53   That was something that I was trying more

01:47:56   in the year structure in 2022,

01:47:58   and that's definitely is something that's helped

01:48:01   and I've been getting better at that.

01:48:03   But now there is more of a result of it,

01:48:06   where like previously it was just like,

01:48:07   oh, this will make my schedule be more sensible.

01:48:09   But now it's like, so I can spend more time

01:48:13   at home more easily,

01:48:14   because I'm compacting my days a little bit better.

01:48:18   But, you know, talking about structure,

01:48:20   there are obvious continued elements

01:48:22   of my year of structure here, right?

01:48:23   So, time for myself, reducing commitments,

01:48:26   reducing mental load,

01:48:28   and booked an intentional vacation time,

01:48:30   that the vacation time's gonna stay,

01:48:31   obviously, as I mentioned,

01:48:32   so like they're coming through.

01:48:35   And the other thing that's coming along with this

01:48:38   is like over time, that I'm hoping that the year

01:48:42   of the weekend will help to change my feeling

01:48:46   of needing to be constantly connected to my work.

01:48:49   That like, if I try to take more time away,

01:48:54   I can also more quickly identify the things

01:48:57   that people need most urgently and most frequently from me.

01:49:01   It's like if I'm trying to be away,

01:49:03   but people need me for things,

01:49:05   I can try and realize what they are,

01:49:07   and/or realize that people don't need me

01:49:10   as much as I think they do.

01:49:11   That if I'm not here as much,

01:49:13   and people are good with it,

01:49:15   then great for everyone, right?

01:49:18   Or like if I'm trying to take a day off

01:49:20   and someone needs something from me,

01:49:21   like what is that thing?

01:49:22   Does that thing come up frequently?

01:49:24   Is there something that can be done about that,

01:49:26   or is someone else better placed for that?

01:49:29   So these are the things I'm trying to realize.

01:49:32   And part of this is I need to learn to be able

01:49:36   to let things go more, let things wait more.

01:49:40   I do have a habit of trying to quickly jump to fix things

01:49:44   at the expense of my own time.

01:49:46   That could probably wait a day.

01:49:47   I feel like I respond to emails way faster

01:49:51   than I get responses.

01:49:52   They did not put this at the same level of priority

01:49:55   that I did.

01:49:56   I think I need to find a medium there of like,

01:49:59   this could probably wait till tomorrow.

01:50:01   that I need to try and get into that a little bit more,

01:50:04   I think, so that's kind of what I'm hoping to see from this,

01:50:08   to be a lasting effect as well,

01:50:09   of trying to work out the things

01:50:11   that maybe can be shifted around.

01:50:13   Then that goes into what I was talking about earlier,

01:50:15   of like if there's things that I realize

01:50:17   that I need to be able to provide people more frequently,

01:50:20   maybe is there somebody else that could do that for me?

01:50:23   And we'll see.

01:50:25   So that's the year of the weekend.

01:50:26   - I like it, I like it a lot.

01:50:28   - Now, I have my daily questions too, right?

01:50:30   So in the back of the theme system journal,

01:50:32   there's a section where you can write

01:50:34   a bunch of prompts down, a mark off each day

01:50:37   if you've succeeded in them.

01:50:38   I'm adding home to these.

01:50:40   - What do you mean by adding home to these?

01:50:42   Like just a home section?

01:50:43   - I've added a new daily question,

01:50:45   which is just the word home.

01:50:47   - Oh, okay. - Which for me is like,

01:50:48   I will interpret in a bunch of ways.

01:50:50   The daily questions I ask myself,

01:50:51   they're all singular words,

01:50:53   then I like to interpret it however I like,

01:50:56   and decide if I made effort in that.

01:50:58   So now they are create, advance,

01:51:01   advance just means did you push something forward today,

01:51:04   revenue, teamwork, marriage, friends, health,

01:51:08   free time, structure, and now home is added.

01:51:12   So I look at each of these every day

01:51:14   and think did I make some movement

01:51:17   in each of these categories?

01:51:18   'Cause it tends to be if I have a 10 out of 10 day,

01:51:21   I feel like I have succeeded in a day

01:51:25   which will undoubtedly help me push my theme forward too.

01:51:29   'Cause also I feel like even if I've had a bad day,

01:51:32   and this is like a very typical thing for me,

01:51:33   I have a day where I'm not feeling good,

01:51:35   but if I can score over six or seven out of 10 that day,

01:51:39   I'm like, well, I didn't enjoy today,

01:51:42   but at least it was a day where I was productive

01:51:44   in areas that matter to me.

01:51:46   So that helps me as like a secondary thing

01:51:49   in my journal every day.

01:51:50   - Yeah, I find this one just charmingly straightforward.

01:51:54   I really like it.

01:51:55   I also do think that it is, especially for someone self-employed, not easy.

01:52:02   Straightforward doesn't mean easy.

01:52:04   And I think everyone who's self-employed really feels that pressure to just kind

01:52:09   of dissolve away your weekends and it's really bad to do long-term.

01:52:16   And I think this is a really nice follow on for you from the year of structure.

01:52:21   It seems like a really specific and actionable way to progress that one forward.

01:52:26   And also, having just bought a new home, I think this is perfect.

01:52:30   Yeah, I really need some time to do things.

01:52:35   And so like, this is 100% what's pushed this forward.

01:52:39   But there are these other things that I do really care about, like having more social

01:52:43   time, spending more time with my family, like, these are really important to me and my current

01:52:49   working life is not allowing that.

01:52:51   So I'm making some changes and I'm gonna continue

01:52:55   to make changes to make sure that I can give people

01:52:57   around me what they need, I can give myself what I need,

01:53:00   and I can also produce the work that I wanna make.

01:53:03   So what does 2023 look like for you?

01:53:05   I'm excited, man.

01:53:06   You know, I never know what I'm gonna get with you,

01:53:07   word-wise, like there were brackets in last year's.

01:53:11   What could we have this time?

01:53:13   - Year of work.

01:53:14   That's it.

01:53:16   I mean, there are some brackets,

01:53:18   I can't resist a couple of brackets.

01:53:20   - Wait, let me let this sink.

01:53:21   I want to let it sink in a second

01:53:23   before you give me the brackets.

01:53:24   - Yeah, brackets will come up later.

01:53:26   It's year of work.

01:53:27   - I can't believe how close we are, but in the opposite.

01:53:32   - I could almost call it year of work days

01:53:34   because to get it upfront,

01:53:36   like obviously I'm going to be focused on work,

01:53:37   but it's also part of that is really important

01:53:40   to respect the weekends.

01:53:41   And so we literally have inverse ones this year

01:53:45   that are basically the same thing.

01:53:47   - Wow.

01:53:48   - That's fascinating.

01:53:49   - Originally my idea was that New Decades Dawn

01:53:51   was going to be a two-year project,

01:53:53   and I was just kind of going through the year

01:53:56   just like, oh man, I've done my homework in advance.

01:53:58   I already know that it's gonna be a two-year project.

01:54:01   But yeah, since September, since thinking about things,

01:54:06   there's another way in which I actually feel

01:54:09   like I accomplished a bunch of the things

01:54:11   that I thought were going to take two years

01:54:14   in the one year of New Decades Dawn in terms of thinking about how do I work, coming up

01:54:20   with some changes for the schedule, the way I select and prioritize and publish videos

01:54:30   that I kind of feel like, oh, New Decades Dawn lives on in year of work, but it didn't

01:54:36   make sense to actually just keep that as, oh, I'm running with this for two years. There's

01:54:41   like a different focus here. But the obvious part of this is just after a year where I

01:54:48   didn't get much work done. It's a real clear target of okay, next year just has to be a

01:54:55   year where I prioritize having my head down and getting a bunch of work done on actual

01:55:01   videos. Towards that end, I've already said no to and cancelled a bunch of travel plans

01:55:09   that were originally going to be next year. I have two unmovable things that I'm still keeping,

01:55:14   but I've really been having this filter of opportunities that have come up of just being like,

01:55:20   "No, no, no, that's not going to happen." I think that's a really good, simple one for you,

01:55:25   because you are incredibly impacted by travel. Like, when you travel, like, it impacts you

01:55:30   greatly, right? And I think that that makes a lot of sense for you to reduce your travel as a way

01:55:36   to increase your work output.

01:55:38   For sure, it's like one of the biggest min/max decisions I can make.

01:55:42   Every cancelled conference is like inversely related to additional videos.

01:55:47   - Yep. - For sure.

01:55:48   So like there are still a couple of things that I've said yes to,

01:55:51   but it has been a much stronger filtering focus of,

01:55:54   I need an incredibly good reason to say yes,

01:55:57   as opposed to a default stance of like,

01:56:00   this could be interesting, so let me go.

01:56:02   But no, no, it's year of work,

01:56:04   kind of just a head down year focus on making the videos. It's a way to sort of I don't want to say

01:56:09   make up for last year. But this runs in with the thumbnails of like, okay, the work that was done

01:56:15   on the channel last year, that was great. But it's also time limited. It can't continue on with this

01:56:21   year. So there just have to be more videos, it would be almost impossible not to have more videos.

01:56:27   So I'm just going to kind of focus on that and frame a lot of decisions in terms of this.

01:56:34   For listeners, it's really important for me to be clear here though, that having had all of the

01:56:41   experience of being self-employed over these large number of years, this doesn't mean that this is

01:56:48   like a crunch year. I feel like I've developed enough as a person that I can understand the

01:56:56   importance of weekends and that the dedicated not working time is just as important as the

01:57:04   working time. Like they both help each other. So the idea is not like, oh man, I'm going

01:57:09   to be putting in like 16 hour days every day and just like working myself ragged. It's

01:57:15   like that's not the idea. It's frame everything in terms of useful work, which includes things

01:57:20   like respecting the weekend. So that's that's an intrinsic part of this. So one of the big

01:57:27   things that I kind of was thinking about all last year in terms of New Decades Dawn is

01:57:34   what I mentioned to you at the beginning of kind of taking a page from your book and noticing

01:57:40   how you feel at different times and taking stock of what makes me feel the worst about

01:57:48   work and how can I change that.

01:57:50   And so one of the things in past years that was related to a theme that has been a huge

01:57:55   improvement in my life is I stopped publishing videos on days where I was also exporting

01:58:03   them from Final Cut.

01:58:05   This was just one of these little decisions where I realized like, oh, this is causing

01:58:08   a huge amount of stress where it's like, oh, I'm trying to finish a video on the same day

01:58:14   that I want to publish it. And I realized, hey, you know how you can get rid of a huge

01:58:18   amount of stress in your life? Just have a rule that the day that you export the video

01:58:23   is not the same day that it publishes. Those just can't be the same day. And with extremely

01:58:30   rare exception, I've stuck to that and it's been a huge quality of life improvement. And

01:58:35   So I had that in the back of my mind, particularly as the year has gone on and I've been increasingly

01:58:43   stressed that I don't have something for December to publish.

01:58:49   So for the listeners, the background here is that in terms of the ad rates, I can just

01:58:56   say it's roughly true that publishing a video in December is worth about twice as much as

01:59:04   January. If you just think about that for a second, it's like, okay, hey,

01:59:08   if you don't upload tons of videos, if you only upload a small number of videos,

01:59:13   it's crazy not to have one of the videos be in December if you're not uploading all the time.

01:59:18   I've always known that, and it's always been a real stress point. Just like with this year,

01:59:23   it's been also a stress point because this is the big time of the year for Cortex.

01:59:27   And as Cortex brand has become more important, this has also put more pressure on the end of the

01:59:32   year. And so it's like, Oh God, I've got this mounting pressure. And so I've made a decision

01:59:37   that one of the things that I want to do for work next year is what I'm calling a Christmas present

01:59:45   to myself. The Christmas present is the first video that I finished next year,

01:59:53   I am going to save for Christmas. Wow, I am going to have for the first time in my whole life,

02:00:01   a video that's done and I'm going to sit on it. And I'm going to have that for Christmas,

02:00:07   and that will remove what has been one of the most big and miserable stress points in my life

02:00:14   for years, is trying to have something for the end of the year. There's a bunch of reasons why I kind

02:00:20   of couldn't do this in the past. I think that's partly to do with a bunch of changes in the way

02:00:26   that YouTube used to work versus now, which is again kind of thinking seriously about how things

02:00:31   actually are. I also think it's different in the way that I now do a lot of my videos and select

02:00:37   topics. I feel like this wasn't possible in the past, but I think I can actually do it now. And

02:00:45   this year, I actually kind of did two extremely small tests. So with the channel, much faster

02:00:54   approaching 900 million views than I had anticipated.

02:00:57   Months ago now, I actually made a quick little video where it's just a minute long,

02:01:04   but it's still like just prove to yourself a proof of concept that you can do something

02:01:08   and build up from there.

02:01:09   I wrote and recorded a little video where I'm just saying,

02:01:13   "Hey, the channel passed 900 million views.

02:01:16   I'm gonna take questions for a Q&A for a billion views."

02:01:20   I recorded it.

02:01:21   I got the final audio.

02:01:22   I sent it off for animation, we put the music in, it's all set and it's sitting on my channel

02:01:28   just waiting for the day that I actually cross 900 million views.

02:01:32   And that's the first time I've ever had anything done in advance just waiting for

02:01:39   the time that a thing will happen. This is where I talk about like the smallest possible thing is

02:01:44   still a big deal. This is literally the smallest possible thing that could ever happen. But like,

02:01:51   Like I cannot tell you the psychological feeling that has created in me of like, "Oh wow,

02:01:56   it's possible!

02:01:57   I can do this!"

02:01:58   "Why didn't nobody tell me about this?"

02:02:02   Laddering on from that, in the theme of "Gray sometimes uploads weird stuff to his channel

02:02:08   that doesn't fit in with anything else," I last year kind of filmed a sort of, I'll

02:02:14   just call it "unboxing video."

02:02:16   I think it'll make more sense when people see it.

02:02:19   But when I was at my parents as part of the like whole Tesla thing, I happened to film

02:02:25   like opening up this box full of mystery stuff that I had.

02:02:29   I filmed that and I'd been thinking for a long time about turning that into a little

02:02:33   video and I always thought, "Oh, if that's going to go up, I think it makes sense for

02:02:37   it to go up as like a little thing at Christmas time right before whatever the main video

02:02:41   is going to be."

02:02:42   And this is the same thing.

02:02:44   Instead of waiting until I was closer to the time after I made that little like, ask gray

02:02:50   a question thing I thought, "Okay, cool.

02:02:53   Let me edit and finish and film and export and upload and have ready in advance this

02:03:00   extra video, which is now like this little step up from the totally minor thing."

02:03:05   And it's like, it's set.

02:03:07   It's ready to go.

02:03:08   And it feels fantastic.

02:03:09   I was like, "Okay, great.

02:03:11   I have a thing that will just go up the day before the main video goes up and it's all

02:03:16   done.

02:03:17   So I've kind of proven to myself this year in what I know as I describe them sound like

02:03:23   comically small ways, but like I proved to myself, oh, this is possible.

02:03:29   You can make a video and have it ready and you can sit on it and you're not going to

02:03:34   be like weird and nervous about it.

02:03:36   Sure.

02:03:37   like funny exceptions, but I think I can do it

02:03:40   for an actual main video.

02:03:42   - I think that this is very valuable

02:03:43   because when you initially said

02:03:45   that you would hold the first video,

02:03:47   I was like, "Ooh, I don't know about that."

02:03:49   Like that seems like a big jump

02:03:52   because it's a long time to just sit on something.

02:03:56   And I know that you don't typically do things

02:03:58   that are like topical, but still,

02:03:59   it's like, who knows what might happen, right?

02:04:02   - Exactly.

02:04:03   - So you've got to be able to, I think,

02:04:05   come to that realization first

02:04:07   that it is possible for you to do it,

02:04:08   even if it's just something so small.

02:04:10   - Yeah, I know how stupid it sounds

02:04:12   with these trivial examples, but it is a big deal for me,

02:04:15   because I've just never worked this way before.

02:04:18   And these little projects were just intentional.

02:04:23   And so, when I say like year of work,

02:04:26   it also encompassed this concept of,

02:04:29   I think I know a way to reduce a huge amount of stress

02:04:33   in my work that also always makes me just less effective.

02:04:38   I've always been a kind of person that as deadlines loom,

02:04:42   they don't encourage me to get stuff done.

02:04:44   I always just feel worse and I become increasingly

02:04:47   less effective as a deadline looms.

02:04:50   And so this is kind of a way to sort of get around

02:04:55   that problem a little bit of like,

02:04:57   what's the biggest deadline?

02:04:59   Okay, great.

02:05:00   Whatever my first video is,

02:05:02   It's just going to be for that.

02:05:04   And if I'm done with it in February, that's the deal.

02:05:07   Like it's going to go up in December.

02:05:08   But the critical thing here is that, so think about this.

02:05:13   As the work year goes on, I have a video it's ready for December.

02:05:18   And then when I have the next video that's ready in this moment, I will

02:05:25   have an interesting choice because there will be two videos that are done.

02:05:29   And then in that moment I can decide if I'm going to say, "Swap them."

02:05:35   "Oh, the video I just did, maybe that one makes more sense for December."

02:05:38   So I will take the other completed one and publish it now,

02:05:43   and have the other one saved for December.

02:05:45   And this has like opened my mind to thinking about, of course,

02:05:50   my metaphor for everything in life.

02:05:53   Magic the Gathering.

02:05:54   [laughter]

02:05:58   Where, in Magic the Gathering, when it is your turn, as you become a better player,

02:06:03   there's a thing that is really important, which they call "sequencing".

02:06:07   Which is, "Oh, you're gonna play three cards on your turn?"

02:06:11   And new players don't really think about the order that they're going to play those cards,

02:06:15   because it seems like it doesn't matter, but as you become a more advanced player,

02:06:19   you understand, "Oh, sequencing. Doing this one before that one

02:06:24   actually makes a huge difference in ways that are not immediately obvious.

02:06:28   And so it's kind of exciting to me like, "Oh my god, if I do this, I'll be able to

02:06:33   sequence the videos to make a decision about would I rather have this one at Christmas,

02:06:38   or would I rather have that one at Christmas?" This is one of the big ideas of,

02:06:43   "How am I going to work next year?" It's more than just this in ways that I don't entirely

02:06:50   want to talk about right now, but this is the beginning of the idea of what is going

02:06:56   to happen in the year of work that is a direct result of thinking about a lot of the problems

02:07:02   that I've had over the past many years and thinking about how do I want to continue working

02:07:08   forward in the future to make it easier and more effective for myself. I think this is

02:07:13   kind of a motivating goal because it's about a really positive upside. Have a thing ready

02:07:21   for the most effective time of the year and also reduce the most miserable making stress

02:07:26   that you have. Having gone through the data, like I have actual trend lines to show that

02:07:31   this time for realsies, the long COVID seems to be drying up and so I can reasonably expect

02:07:37   that I can have a 80% of normal working schedule starting next year. The concrete focus is

02:07:43   on just having that normal working schedule again. There's clear work days, there's clear

02:07:51   weekends, it doesn't all meld into a giant mush of being ineffective at all days like

02:07:59   the last year has been. Re-crystallize those borders, focus on the videos, you have a system

02:08:06   for sequencing and this also connects to, if listeners remember from last year I talked

02:08:13   about like I have this idea of seasonality for a YouTube channel and as a general statement

02:08:19   going along with like how ad rates work on YouTube it should be that I upload more videos

02:08:25   in the second half of the year than in the first half of the year and any year where

02:08:30   that's not true is just sort of a failure like that's not how it should work so that's

02:08:37   of what I'm aiming for is chill out about panicking for putting up a video immediately.

02:08:46   I just think like building up a little bit of a buffer, even if it's just like a one

02:08:50   or two video buffer, makes a huge deal in the ability to not constantly panic. And also

02:08:59   for just like improving my own personal life. Like I think like last year, I took a trip

02:09:06   with my family and we went to Norway. But I didn't get the airlines video finished

02:09:11   before this trip, which is what I was really trying to do. And so then it kind of like

02:09:15   impacted a little bit in the back of my mind, like how much I could actually relax and take

02:09:20   that time off. And this is also like a thing to fix because that makes the vacation less

02:09:27   effective, which means when I get back to work, it's less effective. So having some

02:09:33   buffer is the thing that I want to do as part of like the actionable. What makes this year

02:09:39   of work different from other years? And I think that it is a thing that is achievable.

02:09:44   But yeah, it does mean that like the upload schedule might be a bit weird. And it is going

02:09:48   to be the strangest thing ever for me to have a video that will be done. But like, I'm

02:09:53   gonna hold that one until December. That's gonna be very strange. But I'm kind of talking

02:09:57   about it here as a way to commit myself to actually doing that, to not being able to

02:10:03   back out of it, to be like, "Oh, have some excuse in the moment for why this time I really

02:10:10   have to not do that." It's like, no, no, no, you're actually going to do this.

02:10:13   There'll be a fun canary in the coal mine for cortexins. When they see you publish a

02:10:18   video in 2023, they know the Christmas one's set.

02:10:21   Yeah, no, that's, that's totally true. When the video goes up, it'll be like, okay,

02:10:27   actually two. There's something just like sitting on the channel that's waiting.

02:10:30   Yeah, they know a secret. Yeah, they know a secret. So just to quickly

02:10:32   go over the two brackets that go along with this.

02:10:35   Oh, I forgot about the brackets. Yeah, look, there's got to be brackets, right?

02:10:40   Obviously. There's year of work, but also, not to bring

02:10:43   up the topic again, but part of this has been motivated by the AI art discussions. So the

02:10:50   first set of brackets is work while you still can.

02:10:56   [laughter]

02:10:59   So there's like a carrot and a stick here, which the carrot is, I think I've figured out how to

02:11:05   make this like way less stressful for myself and I'm like pre-committing to a strategy that will

02:11:10   have that be true, but the stick is, listening back to last year's episode where I was like

02:11:16   estimating timelines for careers in entertainment, they seem like comically optimistic to me now. So

02:11:24   This is one of these things where it's hard to know how to think about the future.

02:11:31   It's sometimes hard to know how to place bets on things that really matter.

02:11:38   And a question like, "How viable is a career in entertainment in the face of increasing AI

02:11:46   art systems?" is like a real high-variance, high-uncertainty question. And it's hard to know

02:11:52   where is that going to go? But in the face of that high uncertainty, it extra makes sense

02:11:58   that focusing on a year of work, there's absolutely no downside to that right now,

02:12:06   and there's only upside. So if my career is ultimately going to be cut much shorter,

02:12:13   much sooner than I expected by auto-generated videos on TikTok,

02:12:18   guess what? Like it's really time to get your butt in gear immediately if that's true. And

02:12:24   I take that idea pretty seriously, but I'm also open to the idea that I could be totally wrong

02:12:33   about that. That, you know, maybe as we discussed in previous episodes there's an S-curve coming

02:12:38   that we don't see, and this year seems like it might be the critical year in which we see if

02:12:46   if that's true. Like does that does this keep exponentially improving? Or does it peter

02:12:50   out into an S curve? Either way, it feels like the optimal thing to do is really focus

02:12:57   on a year of work. Even if you don't know the outcome, this is a good decision either

02:13:03   way. That's why there's part of this bracket, which is like work while you still can right

02:13:08   before the robots come for your job. And then the other bracket for that is work on your

02:13:15   health. And so one thing I have definitely learned over the last year in particular,

02:13:20   but really the last many years, is that being physically fit is part of working in a way

02:13:28   that I just never really thought about before. And especially having, in quite a depressing

02:13:35   manner in the COVID years, gone from my most physically fit to my least physically fit

02:13:42   in the space of about a year is like, that really highlights the distinction in how much

02:13:49   this can affect you.

02:13:51   And so there is a kind of sub year of health that goes along with this.

02:13:57   I am kind of rolling that into work, and the reason I roll that into work is because it

02:14:02   also goes along with just figuring out how can I do this in a less stressful way.

02:14:09   When I am stressed about video productions, that is the easiest time for me to blow off

02:14:13   all kinds of health stuff.

02:14:15   Because I kind of tell myself, oh, it matters way more to get this video finished than it

02:14:19   does to exercise or eat properly today, because I just need to get this thing done.

02:14:25   But if I have a buffer video, I kind of don't have that excuse of like, oh, the like the

02:14:30   most critical thing is still uncertain.

02:14:33   So I just have to push through this time.

02:14:36   So work on your health is part of year of work because those two things are just really

02:14:41   connected to me.

02:14:43   Decreasing the stress takes away a lot of excuses to be super bad about health.

02:14:48   I'm also just in a terrible health position now and I need to claw back a lot of what

02:14:54   happened over the past year and things like my RSI returning is one of those real indicators

02:15:00   of like, "Hey buddy, this is a bad situation.

02:15:04   you haven't been able to properly focus on that, but this needs to take like top priority.

02:15:10   And so really, I think a way to kind of summarize how I'm looking at next year is in that four

02:15:16   light bulbs area of how do you spend time and focus on things that it's a year of burning

02:15:23   the work and health light bulbs quite brightly. That's what things are going to be. In summary,

02:15:29   like you're of work while you can and on your health.

02:15:34   Hahahaha that really takes a ride that theme name there.

02:15:41   If you've gotten this far in the episode it is safe to say that you are interested

02:15:46   in yearly themes and we really recommend that you think about a theme for yourself.

02:15:53   Take everything that we've suggested and try and come up with something that you want

02:15:57   to achieve over the next year, somewhere that you want to see yourself in 365 days from

02:16:03   now.

02:16:05   We believe that a perfect accompaniment to a yearly theme is the Theme System Journal.

02:16:10   It's why we created it, to help us keep track of our themes and to help us keep track of

02:16:15   our personal and professional lives while we're trying to keep on course for the year.

02:16:20   With the Theme System Journal, you can spend time each day reflecting on your yearly theme,

02:16:26   The journaling pages are very flexible, they're very customizable.

02:16:29   We believe in a light structure for the journal.

02:16:32   We don't give you daily prompts.

02:16:34   We want you to think about what you want to know from your day.

02:16:37   For example, there are four boxes on each journaling page.

02:16:39   I write something good, something bad, what am I thinking about, what am I looking forward

02:16:43   to.

02:16:44   These help me kind of think about and talk about what's going on in my life.

02:16:49   When I was saying about when I come up with my theme, when I'm thinking about my theme,

02:16:53   When I sit and write down in my journal every day what I'm thinking about, they tend to

02:16:57   be really good reminders of the types of things I want to change going into my next theme

02:17:05   time.

02:17:11   The great thing about the structure of the journal is you're able to change it up because

02:17:14   it's up to you what you want to put on those pages every day.

02:17:18   But we give you just enough to help get you started and then for you to go and move forward

02:17:22   and make it fit with your own ways of working.

02:17:26   We mentioned the daily themes,

02:17:27   these questions that we ask ourselves every day

02:17:30   to make sure that we're kind of keeping on track

02:17:31   of where we want to be.

02:17:32   There's a whole section at the back of the journal

02:17:34   for that too.

02:17:35   Years of work went into making the Theme System Journal,

02:17:37   a very high quality product.

02:17:39   It's made of great materials,

02:17:41   the construction's fantastic.

02:17:43   It has our well-loved perforated corners

02:17:45   so you can mark off every day and easily find your place.

02:17:48   And it has been enjoyed, the Theme System Journal,

02:17:51   by thousands of cortexes around the world.

02:17:54   We are approaching 35,000 of these sold,

02:17:57   most in the last two years.

02:17:59   - It's mind blowing how many people have tried this.

02:18:02   It really is.

02:18:04   - It's a fantastic thing I'm very proud of.

02:18:06   And we hear from people all the time

02:18:09   who really love their theme system journals.

02:18:11   And if you wanna see more about how the journal

02:18:14   can be used, Gray made a wonderful video

02:18:16   showing how his system works

02:18:18   and showing off the journal itself.

02:18:19   I'll put a link to that in the show notes.

02:18:21   But we really recommend that you go

02:18:23   and buy a theme system journal for yourself today.

02:18:25   You can go to cortexmerch.com, you can buy one.

02:18:27   You can also subscribe

02:18:29   and you'll get one sent to you every quarter.

02:18:31   You get $5 off each journal if you do that

02:18:34   and you get some exclusive stickers with every shipment.

02:18:37   But we recommend just going to buy one and trying it out.

02:18:39   If you journal every day, it will last you for 90 days

02:18:42   but I don't journal every day, I journal every working day.

02:18:45   And so it lasts me a little bit longer.

02:18:47   You could journal whenever you want

02:18:48   and it would last you even longer or even less.

02:18:50   You know, maybe you journal four times a day

02:18:52   and it's not gonna last you 90 days.

02:18:54   - Yeah. - But there's enough

02:18:54   for 90 entries.

02:18:55   - I was very inconsistent with my journal this year

02:18:58   and it lasted me the whole year and that's totally fine.

02:19:00   - That's totally fine.

02:19:01   So go to cortexmerch.com.

02:19:03   You can get yourself a theme system journal today

02:19:05   and we really appreciate it if you check it out.

02:19:08   - Cortexmerch.com.