I love carving out R&R time. It is time for “reflection and re-alignment” (in addition to rest and relaxation), and it always leaves me feeling refreshed and re-energized.
I try to reflect and re-align at the end of every year. But instead of doing the traditional “New Year’s Resolutions” (we all know how well those work), I’ve improved the process for better results.
I go through a process where reflection, not just resolution, is the core. Because to create our future, we must learn from the past. I also ask a few questions that serve the following purposes:
Create pride and gratitude, emotions shown to be associated with more perseverance.
Focus on what matters most, e.g. using the 80/20 principle.
Promote outside-the-box thinking to break out of normal thought patterns.
Major thanks to Tim Ferriss’s tips and all the research on how we achieve for inspiring my version of “New Year’s Resolutions”–or should I say “New Year’s Reflections”.
So what is my process?
I run through the reflection and goal-setting questions in a Google Doc template I created. You can copy and modify it for your own use.
Tips for R&R time
I do it least a few times a year, and want to do it once a quarter, so that I don’t veer too far the path I want to be on.
It’s best to try to leave your normal environment for at least a few days. Changing your environment changes your thought patterns.
Do nothing but R&R while away (or at least carve out a few days to do nothing but R&R on a longer trip). Save the minute-granularity itinerary planning, rushing from one destination to another, and adrenaline (or cortisol) producing activities for your other “vacations”.
What does one actually do to R&R? Here’s what I do: pen and paper journaling (stream of consciousness, about the past, about my dreams, anything), meditate, read, walk a lot in nature, eat, spend time by myself but also with loved ones.
Do you have any New Years rituals that help you start the year off right? Reach out and share them!
As 2018 comes to an end, I wanted to reflect and write down some of the things that have impacted me this year, and into the future. I made these thoughts brief, as I want to be concise and prioritize what had the most impact. Hopefully readers find my thoughts useful in a practical or thought provoking way. I’m happy to talk more about any of these topics, just reach out or comment!
The following thoughts are roughly categorized, and not in any particular order. Disclaimer: this page does not contain medical advice, every individual’s body and mind is different.
Stretching (before and after every workout) and continual rehab/strengthening (after every workout) has completely eliminated the re-emergence of weight training related injuries *knocks on wood*. As well as avoiding certain exercises that naturally aggravate old injuries. Stretching and softening muscles is one of Tom Brady’s secrets to his longevity. And LeBron’s too: “play hard, have fun, and stretch”.
Some of my favorite stretches and rehab/warmup exercises this year:
Medicine ball rolling (as an alternative to foam rolling), self explanatory
Zinc supplements have staved off oncoming colds several times for me this year. This is my go-to immune health supplement, which I “superdose” (i.e. 3-5 tablets a day) when I feel a cold coming.
A cup of coffee (caffeine) works wonders for me. I never realized how much more energy and alertness it gave me before this year, when I started drinking it more often because it’s free and tasty at work. I can only have one cup though, and earlier in the morning, or else I stay up all night. I’ve been using it together with L-theanine. I like to save this combo for special situations (also so that I don’t develop caffeine dependence and withdrawal).
Floating has helped me relax and stay centered. It’s also given me some thought provoking experiences. I like Lift in Brooklyn. Sign up for their mailing list, they have deals/coupons a few times every year.
I’ve really enjoyed Sam Harris’s Waking Up App. His meditations and lessons are educational and thought provoking, in addition to being very relaxing of course.
Speaking of Sam, I found his recent podcast with the TV mentalist and hypnotist Derren Brown fascinating; hypnosis can be powerful. I’m exploring self-hypnosis, as well as acupuncture, after hearing of a friend of a friend having allergies “cured” from it. I expect the placebo effect—namely the power of expectation and belief—to play a huge role in why these things “work”. Even if that’s true though, it means these practices can still be beneficial.
The mind and body are so connected that all of this might as well be under Health.
I continue to love building digital products that people use. Some of the things I created in 2018:
[in progress] ShiftReader: a better speed reading training tool than what Spreed was. The link is just a landing page with fake pricing (I’m doing price testing), so click “Sign Up” and enter your email if you’re interested in email updates.
[sorta dead] CryptoMint: was previously a paid subscription newsletter for crypto news with automated sentiment analysis on scraped articles, which actually had a good amount of subscribes. After deciding I did not want to be in the business of selling “predictions”, esp. in a market like crypto, I turned it into a free crypto newsletter (where the articles are still being scraped) that I only sometimes send out. I have about 430 people on the mailing list.
[dead] CryptoSaver: a web app that automated dollar cost averaging into crypto. I killed it after realizing that users were still terrified of some web app placing crypto buy orders automatically through Coinbase, even though it was via oauth, each buy order had to be manually approved, and that the app wouldn’t have any permissions to do anything else on the account like sell or transfer. I didn’t invest much before talking to users about this idea (and I try not to with most of my ideas): I only put up a legit looking landing page and did some light Python work to understand how the Coinbase API worked.
I’m really happy to have found “solo entrepreneurship” communities this year, like the Indie Hackers community and Microconf, and specific people in that community I can talk to, like Christian
I’ve been working at Squarespace as a Data Scientist for a little over a year and a half now, working closely to support Product. The thoughts below are primarily about that kind of Data Science, vs. machine learning engineering type roles, or Data Scientists that support other stakeholders like Marketing or Sales. I’ve gotten a good chance to learn and think about:
How Data Scientists and PMs should work together: more of a partnership and less of a conduit for data access. Like any good relationship, it takes time and effort to develop that partnership.
Event data standardization, event tracking “grammars” that are intuitive and self documenting, and the importance of data governance in a truly data-driven organization. And by data-driven orgs I mean orgs that use data (and Data Science) in a meaningful way to drive product-level and even company strategy-level decisions, not an org that only looks at if metrics are going up. 📈 Like all things in life, a balance of both is necessary.
The power of quantitative + qualitative research in understanding users i.e. what Data Scientists (can) do + what User Researchers do. Data shows what users do. User interviews get at why users do what they do, or what they couldn’t do (which you can’t observe with data). Together, they are the voice of the user.
I’m very bullish on Segment, and the massive and growing value they provide for Product orgs that want to be data driven (which is also a growing number). For example, I love what they’ve created with Protocols and Typewriter. Now that they’re the centralized data hub for companies, they can build powerful analytical products like Personas too.
As always, you can follow along with what I’m reading on Goodreads.
A few of the most impactful ones I read this year: