Last year wasn't at all what I expected. It wasn't what I wanted, but it was what I needed. Here's a look into what happened:
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I started the year barely being able to walk across my house and only with debilitating pain. It had been 5 months since my 2021 foot injury, and I was not getting better. I ended the year not only able to walk normally without pain but also able to do 30 minutes of daily upright exercise.
To anyone else, this is probably unimpressive. But if I would have known I'd get this far at the beginning of the year, I would have cried tears of joy. It wasn't an easy journey to get here. I had to battle misdiagnosis, unhelpful doctors, PT that worsened the condition, incredibly slow progress, an unrelated medical event in the summer that stalled all forward motion for months, and so much frustration. But I'm here.
The journey is far from over. Still, I'm so proud of how far I've come.
Growing this newsletter
I published 13 issues of the Remotely Interesting newsletter and grew it from 930 to 2,318 subscribers. I never imagined it growing this big, but I'm so happy to have found people who also believe in questioning the defaults of work. Thank you all for being here!
I definitely want to spend more time on the newsletter this year. However, I will need to do something about the huge loss I've been taking with this newsletter since it launched in March 2021. Growing subscribers is great, but it also comes with raised costs. I don't want to change this to a paid newsletter because I think it's important everyone has access to the content. I'm not too fond of the sponsorship route either because I only like to recommend things I've personally used and loved for years.
What do you think of a paid community? The newsletter would stay the same, but if you want to support it and meet others with similar work views, you can join the community.
Also, I think it could be cool to do a monthly live office hours event for this group to answer all your remote work questions. If this is something you'd be interested in, reply and let me know. I'm open to other ideas too. One of my top goals for 2023 is to find a way to make this newsletter sustainable because I'd love to spend more time on it.
Here's a look at the growth over time:
Here are the top articles of the year:
- Rest Isn't the Opposite of Work
- Remote Work Settlers: The Unexplored Alternative to Nomad Life
- How To Create Serendipity on Remote Teams
- Look Out for These Hybrid Work Red Flags
- I Spent $5,500 To Optimize My WFH Life
See all past posts here.
Read a bunch
A couple of years ago, I started the habit of reading a nonfiction book for 15 minutes every single day. It's not much time, but it compounds in an amazing way.
Using this habit, I finished all of these nonfiction books this year (I read a lot of fiction too, but that's a separate 15-minute slot. Plus, it's through Libby, so I don't have physical copies.)
Everything but the last stack was read while reading an average of just 15 minutes per day. The last stack was what I read in December when I gave myself no limit.
This is definitely a habit I plan on continuing in the new year. The one tweak I'll make is to set it as a 15 minute minimum instead of only 15 minutes. Last year, I wanted to gather proof of what's possible when reading daily for a small amount of time. Now that I have, I want to spend this year reading to my heart's content.
Built a video studio
For most people, I think a standard room background works for remote work calls (I used one for 7 years). However, as my business grew and I started dipping my toe into video content, I wanted to upgrade my video background to increase visual interest and add credibility.
I started the upgrade on my own but luckily found Kevin's Dream Studio course in the process. He walks through every little detail, from lighting to cameras to room setup. It's a fantastic course that I highly recommend.
I'm very happy with how my setup came out and always receive compliments on it in Zoom calls. Some of my clients are YouTube creators with millions of followers, and even they've been impressed. I didn't get to use the background as much as I wanted (see fails section below), but I'm happy it's there every time I need it.
First year not burning out
I'm someone who likes to give everything 110%, constantly challenge myself, and say yes to every opportunity. And while this has its perks, it's also a recipe for burnout. Every year before 2022, I always ended up hitting a wall, burning out, and wasting months (or years) recuperating. And I was tired of it.
No matter how productive this personality made me, it wasn't making up for all the wasted time in recovery. I wanted to stop the cycle, and in 2022 I made it happen. At first, it was due to factors outside of my control. Doctor's appointments, PT, etc., forced me to significantly reduce my workload. This made me cranky, bored, and impatient, but I could also feel my approach to work changing. So I kept it going even when it was my choice again. I:
- Only worked with clients that made me happy
- Prioritized wellness and healing my foot over all else
- Proactively took time off before I needed it
It wasn't fun. But I found my best ideas in moments of true boredom, I had space to jump on new opportunities when they came up (like working with one of my favorite creators, Thomas Frank), and I even made slightly more while only working half the time. The entire experience was eye-opening. Before I knew it, I ended my first year with zero burnout.
I'm hoping to continue this journey in 2023. I now have experience with two extremes:
- Working as little as possible
- Working as much as possible
Can I keep the zero burnout streak going while finding a middle ground? We shall see.
Switching from Android to iPhone
I didn't think the switch would be a big deal, but I ended up passionately hating the iPhone user experience. I'm using my old broken phone more than the new one. Live and learn. Hopefully, Android will come out with a phone with a smaller screen without sacrificing features.
Not launching on YouTube
I filmed and then deleted so many videos in 2022. Mentally, I tried to rationalize that this just ended up getting cut because of limited plate capacity, but it's something I could have made work. It was fear holding me back. Video is a new medium, and it's scary to branch out.
I hoped working with some of my favorite YouTube creators would help me overcome this fear. Instead, I'm more knowledgeable than ever but also more intimidated because they're all so great at what they do (and I'm nowhere close to that level yet). We'll see if I can jump this hurdle in 2023
Top Twitter Moments
First, the good news: I grew from 7k to 12k followers and had a wonderful time building relationships with amazing people. The bad news: I'm not sure I'll be as active there in 2023.
Twitter has been the only social media I've used since I started sharing online in 2020. It was going great, then Elon Musk showed up. Since he took over, my engagement and following are way down (not sure if it's because I'm not subscribed to Twitter Blue or something else).
Plus, it's just not as interesting. I've been spending less time on Twitter because it's not as appealing when the conversations all center around whatever new Elon drama is happening that day. I'll definitely need to work on diversifying my social media avenues in the new year.
Here are some of my top tweets of the year:
I run a successful company while: • Waking up without an alarm • Only having 2 meeting days per week • Working a 4-day workweek Let's end the story you have to subscribe to hustle culture to be professionally successful. AMA.
January 21st 2022
Reminder: Your best ideas don't come from working non-stop. The best ideas come when you take a shower, go for a walk, sleep, etc. Rest is not the opposite of work. It's an integral piece of great work.
April 7th 2022
Reminder: Everyone doesn't work best at the same times How much genius have we been missing out on by trying to force people into a 9-5 box for a century? pic.twitter.com/BXE6UuTZvL
September 14th 2022
Some Random Favorite Memories
- Mentoring for Sahil Lavingia's Minimalist Entrepreneur course
- Crumbl Cookie putting out a birthday cookie for me
- Launching the Avoiding Burnout from Remote Work mini-course
- Building bookcases for the loft
- Receiving my first business sign for Remote Work Prep
- Coaching amazing remote founders all over the world
- Expanding Remote Work Prep from working with only tech companies to working with some of my favorite creators
- Being a guest on Steph Smith's podcast
- Getting to watch baby birds hatch and grow on our front door wreath
- Taking 4 weeks of vacation
- Launching the Recurring Meeting template for Notion
Best of the Year
- Book: Work Clean by Dan Charnas
- Course: Dream Studio
- Apps: Daylio and DayOne (I now have 5 years of memory and mood-tracking data!)
- New Find: Keeping my home office extra toasty this winter
- Lesson: Rest isn't the opposite of work. It's an integral part of great work.
This year was a roller coaster. I ended up having an internal revolution instead of the expected external one. It's changed the entire direction of my life, and I'm grateful for it. I have big plans for 2023, so stay tuned ✨
December 27th 2022
If you published a personal 2022 review, I'd love to read it! Reply to this email with a link. And don't forget to let me know what you think of the community idea. Hope you have the loveliest new year!
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Also, don't forget to check out my new Recurring Meeting Template for Notion!