2021 Q1 Review: To an examined life

On joining ODNC, moving into a new place, and the start of an examined life

2021 Q1 Review: To an examined life
First published: 7 April 2021

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(Photo by me)
If I were to think back to Q1 of last year, the main highlight would have been the start of the national lockdown. If the lockdown wasn't the highlight, then honestly I don't remember what other significant things had happened. It took me a while to realise I don't want to live my years not remembering (or not doing enough) my wins, losses, and lessons I've learned. I do note down the main highlight of each month of the year, but not enough in detail that I'd like. So this is my attempt at my first published post about my past quarter. In summary, I talk about joining ODNC, moving into a new place, and living a more examined life. Here goes nothing.

Joining On Deck No Code (ODNC) Fellowship

Where do I even start with this? I followed thisiskp and that's probably how I stumbled upon ODNC - one of On Deck's fellowships. I had no clue it was something that could change the way I see building your own products using no-code and meeting new (internet) friends. ODNC is more of a community than anything else. It's cheesy but it's a community of builders and dreamers who are using the power of no code to build anything they could dream of.
  • Great energy all around and fantastic fellows who are willing and ready to help each other
  • We had a ton of workshops, co-building sessions, socials, mastermind groups, community sessions, and fireside chats with amazing speakers like Sahil Lavingia and Ryan Hoover
  • Global Build Weekend was exciting because you get to meet other fellows from other cohorts to build a project at a weekend. (I joined a team and we built a D&D generator, powered by GPT-3)
  • Perks from so many awesome tools and products
To get the most out of the fellowship, you'll need to be active and not lurk around the channels (we use Slack). I met and talked with a diverse pool of people from around the globe - ODNC is the most diverse cohort with so many of us from other countries! Some were ahead of the game, some were starting out, and we were in it to build a capstone project by the end of 10 weeks in ODNC, including myself. My goal was to build a marketplace (for artists to monetise their work) for my project Buttermilk - a platform to showcase, discover, and support local artists (in Malaysia, for now?). I built a mini landing page, and got a lot of people who signed up! There are a few ways to build a marketplace but I settled with Bubble. Let's just say with my full-time job and personal obligations, it was a bit straining. Know your limits! I learned mine. So I pivoted my capstone and built a job board (and profile pages for artists) instead. Was I upset by this pivot? A little. But I did start to question whether I wanted to build a marketplace. It served as a good wake up call because I wanted to build other side projects instead, at least for now. If I'm ready, I can always come back to it. This would make a good post by itself (well, a lot of these make good posts) later on, so maybe stay tuned for that.
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(Screenshot taken by Janel)
After the last week of our capstone showcase sessions (I did showcase mine too!) and a demo day to the public, we wrapped up the first cohort of ODNC in our final session. Here's our classroom photo (~1/4 of us) to commemorate. ...And scene. You can check out my summarised ODNC journey here.

We moved into a new apartment

Note to self:
It's good to be ambitious, but balancing a full-time job, side project, me time, and new apartment move (minor renovation, buying furniture, packing and cleaning included) is overly ambitious. Decision fatigue was real. Burnouts were real. Renovations started in late December. My partner and I thought we could get at least the renovation done by January so we can start to move in by February, but nope - we had another national lockdown so the renovation had to be postponed. Not for long though, after we figured out that we could still get the contractors to come in. It's still considered "essential work".
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(Photo by me, one of my favourite spots at home)
The first weekend of March when we finally moved in was a relief, but I felt so exhausted the next working day I could not get much work done. My partner was supportive of what I was doing in making sure I get enough rest. I'm thankful for him. It's the beginning of April now, and we're settled comfortably in our new home.

The start of a more examined life

I think I've always wanted to live a more intentional life since a few years back, but I haven't really acted upon it. I had a pretty rough patch in the second half of 2019, but weirdly enough recovered from it around the time when the pandemic hit. I don't know if there is any relation to this topic, but from time to time I think about the feelings that surrounded me then and compare myself to the present day - how much I've changed the way I see things now. Since it's the start of a new year, I now try to cultivate the habit of self-reflection and living more intentionally based on what matters to me now. And hopefully, I can continue this indefinitely.
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(Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels) I started utilising Twitter half a year ago as my main medium for learning and knowledge. It's inspiring to see and learn from others about the work and projects they do, and the things that matter to them. I wanted to do the same, so I share my progress of how I build my projects, my learnings and lessons, inspire and help others too. At the same time, engage with the community of creators and builders whenever I can. Also, one thing that doesn't sit right with me is the concept of living for the weekend. I do this to get over some rough weeks, but a lot of people live their lives waiting for the weekend only to repeat their weeks again and again until they retire. It's not necessarily wrong (and probably this is privilege talking) that some people are content with it, but I don't want to spend my days like that. What if it's your last day of life and you're spending it counting down to the weekend? What I try to do is integrate things I like to do after work, so there's at least something to look forward to every day.
One thing I also enjoy is every Sunday evening, I do self-reflections for the past week and plan for the upcoming week (I made a thread too). I still get Sunday blues, but it's a little bit better because I enjoy doing these weekly reviews and planning. This routine has been incredibly valuable as I have something to look back to, which is why I wanted to write my quarterly review so I can see from a glance what has happened in the past 3 months. So now I'm going through my weekly reviews for my quarterly review. I wrote a thread the other day about my takeaways. I'll do the same now, elaborating on those. Here are my favourite takeaways:

Reprioritise or adjust the habits you want to work on

I was too ambitious wanting to track too many habits at one time. By the end of the day, I would already feel tired so I ended up not tracking my habits which led me to feel guilty for not being able to accomplish them. I think what we should be doing is adjust and track our habits based on what's important to us right now. For example:
I wanted to do daily journaling along with 5 other habits. Week after week, I didn't manage to do any daily journaling at all. Instead of removing it entirely, I decided to write down ONE highlight of the day. Along with checking off my top three to-dos and my gratitude list, I'm also writing down one highlight. It's all on the same (Notion) page so there's lesser friction. It does the trick, and I've been doing so for the past month. Not to say daily journaling wasn't important, but out of the rest of my habits, it's placed at the bottom. Since I already do a weekly review, I think that alone is enough for me, for now.

Starting and doing are hard. Do it anyway.

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Perfectionism sucks ass, but we still need to start at some point. Tell yourself you'll spend 10 minutes working on something. Chances are you'll continue doing the work because the momentum will pick up. Most of the time doing isn't the hardest part, it's starting because you'll come up with excuses for yourself saying you're not ready, you're not good enough etc. But we still have to start somewhere. Anne Laure wrote a good article about the different types of procrastination and how you might be able to overcome them If you don't decide to continue after 10 minutes, 10 minutes is still better than nothing. You can also try the Pomodoro technique. 25 minutes of work, then stop for a break for 5 minutes. Continue on for a few more cycles until you get a longer break. You can try using the "Marinara" Pomodoro timer - a chrome extension to help. For example: If you started writing, just focus on writing. Write, write, and write. Only worry about making the improvements and edits after you finished writing. Otherwise, you'll be stuck making progress because you'll be too worried if it'll be "perfect" or not. Done is better than perfect, after all. Do the thing first, then make iterations later.

Believe in yourself more

I felt like I lost some faith in myself over the past month. I relied on people more because I didn't trust my own decision, judgement or stance on something. Relying on others isn't necessarily bad, but I often became indecisive. And others might also think I'm not trustworthy enough to lead or make decisions. Maybe this ties into my imposter syndrome that I'm not good enough in my job or the projects I'm working on. Unfortunately, I don't have a solution to this yet. But I try to give myself words of affirmation and work on my personal growth. Ignore the self-doubt thoughts and continue to work on myself the best I can. In time, I hope I can believe in myself a bit more and have better self-esteem.

Q2 2021 plans

Here are the plans (in a nutshell) I've set for the next quarter:
  1. Improve product thinking skills. I may start to write about my learnings about this
  1. Launch a new side project in the mindfulness or mental wellness space
  1. Improve distribution for Buttermilk
Nothing concrete yet, so let's see how things pan out. One quarter down, three more to go for this year. Thanks for taking the time to read this 🌻 May you achieve your goals in the next quarter! 🙌