(i wrote about 2018, if you want the previous year’s version of this post.)

2019 was pretty great. here are the highlights:

  1. found someone i loved
  2. we moved in together
  3. into a house that i bought
  4. got promoted
  5. at a job that i continue to love
  6. worked very hard
  7. hit 5k MRR across all my various projects
  8. signed my first four-digit software contract
  9. and my first five-digit software contract
  10. read (and listened to) a lot of books
  11. stayed in relatively good shape
  12. perfected my allspice old-fashioned recipe

i only really accomplished one of my resolutions from last year (getting spoonbill to breakeven), which is…fine. i think resolutions work better for me as compasses rather than waypoints: i don’t need a specific GPS coordinate, i just need a handful of true norths.

a lot of 2019 (outside of my relationship with my partner) was about working pretty hard in lieu of more leisurely stuff. i was bad at texting people back; i was bad at playing video games. i don’t regret this exactly — it got me to where i was trying to go! — but i think this year i want to course correct a bit.

the truth is, i know i’m going to do a bunch of work stuff. it seems silly to plan that out and assign myself goals and KPIs or whatever — the work is going to be there regardless, and it’s going to get done.

for buttondown, that is mostly around getting it into a more scalable and sustainable place. i wrote last year about buttondown’s growth hurting my life in the way freemium apps tend to — as is the cliche, the demand (or burden, or whatever noun you care to use) of free users is pretty high, and without hiring a customer service person it sucks some joy out of my life. i’m going to move it to a purely premium model, work on improving some of the core experiences (namely the writing and editing interface), and move it in a slightly more legitimate direction with support for captcha, internationalization, and webhooks.

for spoonbill, this is mostly sales and product development stuff. i’ll be introducing “spoonbill for power users” (my friends have advised me not to actually call it that, but we’ll see), which will have support for real-time notifications, searches, and zapier support. and then add a bunch more social networks (if you know anyone at linkedin who is up for a friendly chat, let me know…). and then redo the email design because boy is it ugly.

and, of course, the third big side project in my life is my house. the house is a very cute craftsman with a hellish basement that just got flooded with a half-inch of water. i would like to finish the basement and redo the bathroom and figure out what we’re going to do with a guest-room-slash-walkin-closet. also the basement stairs are currently made out of plywood, which should…not be the case.

because i am sociopathic, i have all of these things planned out with due dates. but that’s more about limiting the analysis paralysis (buttondown has 400 open issues on github right now) and focusing my efforts on what I think will be a combination of highest impact and most fun to work on, rather than like, “oh I gotta hit $10k mrr this year.”)

i want to focus on the things that i otherwise wouldn’t do. in 2020, i want to focus on the things that i tend to be bad about making time or space for in my life but that i never regret doing:

  1. cooking and making cocktails (gonna try for one new recipe a month for each)
  2. hosting friends (i am still okay with being bad at texting and communication, but i need to be better at replacing that with spending time with the people whom i care about)
  3. running and lifting. i’ve been in a holding pattern with lifting recently (maintaining but not really improving my numbers) and i think hitting a two-plate bench would be fun.
  4. drinking tea
  5. reading poetry

and if i do none of these things, that is completely fine. i have found myself the past two months aghast at my luck and privilege. this is the first time i have been so conscious (or self-conscious) of how good i have it; i think things can be even better, but if all twelve months of 2020 are like the worst month of 2019 i will consider myself prudent and blessed.

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