The best and hardest year of my life (My 2018 Year Review)
Getting inspiration from James Clear and his annual year review, I decided to give it a shot and look back on my 2018.
There are three questions I would like to answer in this review:
- What went well this year?
- What didn’t go so well this year?
- What did I learn?
What went well this year?
Let’s start with the good stuff — the things that went well, that made me happy and helped to move me in the right direction.
I focused a lot on myself. I realized that by improving myself, I am improving my business as well. All the skills, experience and abilities you learn become your assets.
Throughout 2018, I struggled a lot. And I was learning from the experience.
I got a better understanding of myself and managed to switch my mindset from short-term thinking into long-term.
I realized that I might have to live the same way for a few more years before I can enjoy any significant success.
If you want something, it will take a lot more work than you thought. Realizing that, I simply learned to love the process instead of doing it for the end result.
I gained a set of values and principles that guide me every day and help me make decisions.
Throughout the year, I read 12 books and over 1 100 online articles (mostly through the Pocket app).
I gained a lot of knowledge, but I also learned to read much more quickly and retain more of what I read.
By reading almost entirely in English, I got to the point where I started thinking in English more than in my native language.
Reading a lot also had a positive impact on my writing skills and vocabulary.
Gaining new skills
This year, I was learning by doing. I spend this year creating Facebook and Google Ads campaigns, building Messenger Chatbots and I hugely improved my writing and copywriting skills.
I learned a lot of skills, but I never became expert at any of them — I was always switching the kinds of work I was doing. Having a big, broad set of skills is great for building and scaling a startup/company, but it’s hard to sell yourself as people mostly prefer to hire specialists.
Finally set some goals
I always had some sense of where I want to be and what I want to achieve, but I never really bothered to put it on a piece of paper or put a date on it.
In November, I sat down and spent a few hours coming up with goals that matter to me. I set up goals for:
- Career & Business
- Family & Friends
- Personal Development & Skills
By having a clear set of specific goals with dates, exact numbers, and the reason why to achieve them, I got a boost in motivation and resilience.
I am now even using my goals as a compass — when I am facing a big decision, I look at my goals, and I then decide which option is more aligned with my goals.
What didn’t go so well this year?
Now to the stuff that wasn’t optimal.
Mentee — an app for sharing skills and meeting new people
Two and a half year ago (Sept 2016), we started working on Mentee — an app for sharing skills and meeting new people.
We decide to bootstrap the whole thing, and we worked around the clock to bring our idea to reality.
We hit some major roadblocks, struggled with development and after 18 months we parted with the development team and started all over again.
We ditched the up and ended up soft-launching Messenger bot with similar functions as the app.
We felt we have a fantastic idea since everybody liked it. But in the end, we were too naive and overlooked some significant problems. One of them being the problematic exchange of the skills between people (core function).
After 26 months, we decided to quit working on Mentee and started looking for something new.
We ended up working on our new project — Voicestory. More on that in 2019.
Health & Fitness
While in 2017 I was pretty consistent with working out and eating healthy, in 2018 I stopped going to the gym altogether to have more time and energy for work.
That led to gaining more weight and losing physique.
If I haven't walked a lot (7.7 km/day yearly average), I would probably be a lot fatter and less healthy.
I started running on the end of November, and I actually enjoyed it for the first time in my life. I am excited to run a lot more in 2019.
I enjoy traveling and exploring new cultures and places a lot. Unfortunately, I haven’t got to go on a trip.
That said, I spent a few days in Manchester when we went to meet with Steven Bartlett, founder of Social Chain.
I am okay with it though. My work is a higher priority for me, and I am willing to sacrifice vacations for a few more years if that helps me to achieve what I want.
Adventures on hidden beaches and wild mountains will have to wait.
What did I learn?
What are my lessons from this year's adventures?
Choose your business partners more carefully
I learned this the hard way, as we had to buy out one of our business partners this year. Even though we got along great as friends, we were completely different blood type when it came to work and business.
Even though working together helped us tremendously, in the end, we had to part ways, and it cost us a lot of money.
Now I am much more cautious about who I work with.
Don't be afraid to ask stupid questions
I would rather ask a stupid and/or obvious question than have a wrong understanding of the topic. Never be afraid to ask for more details or the reason why.
Honesty builds trust and strong relationships
By being completely honest and open to hard conversations, you gain trust from others. When you tell the things the way they are, and when you are not afraid to acknowledge your flaws, you build a strong character in the eyes of other people.
Trust your gut
Your intuition is strong, and it tells you what's right and what's wrong. When you have a conflicting decision to make, think about it, get some sleep on it and then follow your gut.
Not neglecting my intuition would save me a lot of headaches.
Don't let other opportunities, people and entertainment distract you from your goals. The only way to succeed is to be focused, both on the task on the table and your long-term vision. Take some time at least once a month to realign your focus and keep track of what's important.
With that goes also…
Learn to say No more often
In 2018 I was all over the place, jumping from opportunity to opportunity, from one field of work to another.
Yes, I got a ton of experience from doing a variety of stuff — something that will surely prove itself valuable for a founder, as they need a wide range of skills for the beginnings of their startup-building career.
But at the same time, I missed out on the bigger opportunities and rewards, that come only once you focus on one thing for a longer period of time.
That being said…
Have a great and productive 2019, leave all your regrets in the past and focus.
And be sure to check out James Clear and his new book, Atomic Habits.
Got inspired to write your 2018 review? Send it to me on instagram.com/lozitalks (or just say Hi)