The Almost-Lost Month

March 2022 Retrospective

Pegasus is humming, Griffin is flailing, and I have no clue what my long-term plan is.

I called March of last year “the lost month” because I got caught up in a consulting gig and made very little progress on my personal projects.

This year, a very similar thing happened. A contracting gig I committed to years ago finally hit, and took up a lot of time. Then, halfway through the month an issue with one of my servers ate up another few days.

If you’re interested in the gory technical details of the server issue that derailed my month, you can find them in this Twitter thread.

The net result was that I didn’t have as much time as normal to push on my goals. Things are still moving, just…slowly.

Last month also marked the five-year anniversary of this journey / website! The milestone has caused me to reflect on the future a bit—though I currently have more questions than answers.

Last Month’s Profit

Project Profit Monthly Change
SaaS Pegasus $6189.89 -26.88%
Place Card Me $1642.27 59.75%
Chat Stats $94.10 -23.08%
Total $7926.26 -17.57%

Pegasus took a dip, and has now gone down four straight months from its Black Friday high.

Still, those four months of decline are all in the top 7 months ever in terms of profit, so I’m not panicking yet.

Meanwhile, Place Card Me was up 75% on March of last year, indicating that it may be fully emerging from the pandemic downturn. Still nice to have multiple products even if I sometimes forget about them!

Last Month’s Goals

# Goal Grade
1 Ship a substantial Pegasus release B
2 Choose the next Griffin project B

Ship a substantial Pegasus release: B

I managed to get a Pegasus release out in the last few days of the month. The release was pretty small, but ticked off an item that had been on the roadmap for ages—built-in continuous integration support via Github Actions.

All Pegasus projects will now run front and back-end checks automatically (if enabled). I turned it on for all my projects and already caught an issue I wouldn’t have otherwise!

Choose the next Griffin project: B

I’ve drafted a high-level essay about having disagreements that I’m aiming to publish in the next week or so. Sound boring? It probably is! Oh well…

Time

March 2022 Time

Time breakdown for March 2022

As mentioned at the top—the month was dominated by contract work, though I still managed to sneak in about 30 hours each on Pegasus and Griffin.

Thoughts

Pegasus synergies continue to be huge

I’m still struck by how lucky I am to be building a product to help developers build and launch apps when the overwhelming amount of my non-Pegasus work is building and launching apps. With Pegasus, I am my own customer to a remarkable extent.

A few examples from the month:

  1. Want to know why Pegasus now supports Github actions? It’s because I wanted to set up CI for the contracting project I’m working on. Then, once that was done, it was very easy to bring into Pegasus.
  2. When it became clear that I had to spin up a new server after my old one melted down, I decided to use it as an opportunity to work on a set of scripts to automate the process. I’m certain these will eventually make it into Pegasus and help many of my customers.
  3. Yesterday I upgraded one of my own projects from an old version of Pegasus to the current version, and in the process I figured out a better way to do Pegasus upgrades that I immediately documented and shipped to all my customers.

The point is—even when I’m not working on Pegasus I’m still working on Pegasus! It almost feels like cheating…

Griffin is still diverging

With Pegasus I’m able to make progress almost without trying. In contrast, with Griffin I keep trying very hard and seem to make almost no progress. I guess that balances things out?

A while back someone pointed me to the “diverge/converge” design framework. The idea being that you first explore a lot of different ideas and then you can converge on the right one.

Design Thinking

The diverge, converge, repeat diagram. I’m currently in a divergence phase.

At the moment Griffin is very much in a divergence phase. Here’s a loose set of things that are going on:

  1. I’m having a lot of one on one debates about Covid with friends who disagree with me.
  2. I’ve drafted an essay based on the meta-learnings from those debates about having better disagreements.
  3. I’ve started—but stalled out on—several pieces related to Covid, mostly in the realm of vaccine mandates.
  4. I joined a community of volunteers for the Concilience Project—an organization I’ve admired from afar for a long time.

I suspect somewhere in this mess is progress, but it’s pretty hard to see it right now!

I’m still looking for something to grab and pull at me. Something that feels useful and engaging, and ideally more ambitious than some observations or a piece of writing.

But—I have no idea what that is yet, so these little, random fragments are all I have for now.

Five-year planning

This month marked my five-year anniversary on this journey.

I re-read my “Solopreneur Sabbatical” post and was most struck by this thought:

In terms of products, finances, etc. this year, I explicitly stated a goal of coasting. And I can sort of justify that because 1) I don’t need to earn more money, and 2) I have this Griffin thing I’m doing.

But even if Griffin is the right counterbalance for Pegasus this year, it’s not exactly a five year plan—or at least it doesn’t feel like one in its current form.

So there’s this simultaneously simple and extremely difficult question that I’m now wrestling with again: What do I want my life to be like in five years?

I don’t have any answers yet, but it is a hole that seems worth attempting to fill. Food for thought for the future.

This Month’s Goals

Back down to earth. My concrete goals for the month:

  1. Finish the main sprint of my contracting gig
  2. Ship a major Pegasus release
  3. Publish my essay about disagreements

I’ll also be ruminating on this “five year plan” a bit more, though I have no idea where that will end up.

Recommendations

I’ve gotten into the idea of trying to understand why we believe the things we believe, how to challenge our own perspective on the world, and the psychology that makes all of that so hard. It’s very abstract and a bit naval-gazey and yet also I think important and useful to the goals I have with Griffin.

Two books that have been great on the topic:

  • The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef. The main theme of this book is that we operate in two ways: The Soldier Mindset, which is when we’re trying to fight for something (e.g. convince someone we are right), and the Scout Mindset, when we’re trying to understand something. The book is Malcom Gladwell-esque in its ease of readability and use of stories to make its point, but has lots of interesting ideas and is an easy read given the difficult subject matter.
  • The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. This book comes up in Scout Mindset and had been recommended to me in a few different places. I’m only halfway through, and it’s much denser and more academic than The Scout Mindset, but touches on many of the same ideas in more depth and with more psychology and philosophy mixed in.

After reading these books I’ve been attempting to look for motivated reasoning—a phenomena like soldier mindset—in myself. The most obvious example is whether I am being fair with the evidence base surrounding Covid to trust my own opinions on the topic, or whether I’m captured by my intuition (soldier mindset) and not reasoning clearly (scout mindset). For now, the jury is still out.

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