5 Lessons Learned From A Year of Starting a Side Project

Between getting started and that moment where you feel you have succeed or accomplished your goal there is a lot of stuff that happens in between. 

One year after creating Modern Afflatus I sat down to document some of my lessons learned along the way because doing what matters isn't easy. Trust me, I know.

But just like others have illuminated the trail before me, I'm more than happy to help connect that route between the start and finish for others. 

Here are five lessons learned from my first year working on a side project I care about. 

Lesson1.png

It's not going to be the last time you hear me say this but a lot of clichés you hear are true. At least in the self help world. 
This quote was something I had in mind when I started Modern Afflatus and was what persuaded me to launch when I did. There was going to be no "perfect time". Or as Jake from Adventure Time puts it "Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something." 

The right time to work towards something is not tomorrow, not next month, not when you get that promotion, but now! The sooner you start the less regrets you'll have about starting later. Remember this can be starting on any scale as long as you're making progress. 

Lesson2

Knowing a good friend is expecting a letter you promised them every week is enough to motivate you to get it done. Now multiply that by a few hundred and you'll have a bunch of people knocking on your (digital) door if you don't follow through.

That's what's on my mind every Tuesday, so whether or not I want to that day I make sure I get my newsletter done for my readers because I made that commitment and they're there to hold me accountable. 

In the psychology of habits and getting things done, accountability to a group that you respect has a huge effect. Platforms like Stickk and GoFuckingDoIt exist around that very idea - and they put your money on the line to do it. 

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I've had this ability since university that no matter what time I wake up in the morning I can always seem to end up leaving at the same time. Maybe I will take a few extra minutes ironing my clothes or chewing my breakfast slower. But other days there's nothing like waking up 20 minutes before work to prove how much you can actually get done with little time. 

Without deadlines it's so easy to put things off. Giving myself a deadline every week ensures that I'm always making progress.

When it comes to the actual writing of my newsletter, having a clear plan of what I want to achieve and the time it will take helps prevent that session from turning into a "suddenly realizing 12 You Tube videos and a Instagram creep later I have only one paragraph done" moment. They do happen and that is natural in a creative process but you can surprise yourself when a few deadlines enter the picture. 

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Granted there is a time and place for deep focus or living in the moment but here I'm talking about going off on a tangent too long. Getting distracted or absorbed in the details. Here's why I find it helps me to keep the bigger picture in mind:

1. It helps you avoid getting "stuck" on one method that isn't working and realize there are always plenty others to achieve your objective. 

2. Going one step 'bigger' you'll probably even understand that whatever you're getting worked up about really isn't that big of a deal especially with everything that is going on in the world. 

I can easily spend 2 hours just editing one photo for a blog post but when I think of the bigger picture I can prioritize to ensure I'm doing what matters most at that time

Lesson5

You often hear the phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you know." 

Meeting great people this past year has been the key to doing what matters in my life. I admit one of my challenges has been to find balance within those relationships and to be present in them but that doesn't mean I don't value those people coming into my life any less. 

Like all of the lessons above, this one still needs reinforcement and my attention on a regular basis but it will be a truth I stand by for many years to come. Fortunately, Modern Afflatus aims to explore this topic further so stay tuned!