Attending Barcamp Philly inspired me to solidify a lot of these ideas. There’s a JFDI attitude in this town that I find myself connecting with more and more. Now that I’m settled in from our move to Center City, I’m no longer content to wait until 2011 to make some changes.
1. Add more white space to my life.
I wrote about this on a stealth blog I’ve been developing, based on Leo Babauta’s ideas around clarity, balance, and importance. I want my work to be more impactful, and I want to enjoy some of the transcendent experiences I’ve spent much of my career creating for others. Our trip to London in 2009 was the catalyst for this idea, which led to our move to Center City. During the move, Lori and I both photographed some of our cherished possessions that we carted with us on five moves from Philly to Florida to Georgia to North Carolina and back. And then we donated them or dropped them into dumpsters. It’s been freeing to get rid of “stuff” and clutter, to downsize into a smaller space, and to live where we want to hang out. I built my writing practice on the back of “cognitive surplus.” Now, it’s our turn to enjoy the time we’ve freed up by eliminating our commutes and so many of our weekend errands.
2. Connect with more people, personally and professionally.
Much of my professional writing over the past year has focused on covering financial markets and product releases. I’ve had a blast, but I felt I let myself rely too much on press releases. I’m going to lean so much more on my network in 2011 to develop more primary research on the topics that fascinate me. That means stepping out of my comfort zone, exploring areas where I’m decidedly not an expert. When I decided to go back to a full-time day job, I had to learn how to split up my network. A few years in, I’ve learned better how to navigate the path without stepping on toes. So you’ll see me stepping way out into the field a lot more.
3. Pay myself first, creatively.
If it’s okay to be selfish, I’m going to make sure the first 300 words I write every morning wind up in one of my own projects. It’s taken me a while to shed the fear that clients that might be offended by that idea, just as it’s been tough to express myself on Twitter or Facebook without angering an individual who thinks that every single moment of my day should be filled with their projects. Homing in on my favorite clients and leveraging some of the benefits of my day job make this possible, as long as I’m willing to give myself the permission to do it.
4. Ship more often, without revealing the road map.
You’d think I’d have picked up on the success of this philosophy from my day job, but it’s been a challenge to force myself off the hamster wheel of making and breaking promises. I’ve been dangling revisions of my music business books in front of my readers for years, but I don’t think it’s fair to force myself onto an arbitrary deadline. I’ll ship them once I feel like they’ve transformed enough to earn the 2.0 designations. And yet, I have a slate of smaller projects I want to play with. Reconnecting with the Hobbypreneur meme has helped me carve out more time to experiment with ideas. The success I’m enjoying from my job and my writing gives me the safety net to play and fail, with the hope that some of what I produce will have at least some of the impact from the 2000-2001 experiments that led to Grow Your Band’s Audience.
5. See more of the world, even the one down the block.
Lori and I decided that London would be our last “big” vacation for a while, so we could use our free time to move in 2010. With her starting a new job, we won’t have a big block of free time together until 2012. Focusing my time more effectively can give us more spontaneous jaunts, even if they’re just to the museums or the gardens in our own city. Choosing Center City Philadelphia as our new home wasn’t just a convenient move: it’s a strategic location that puts us within a fast train ride to New York or Washington and within a fast plane ride to the Southeast. We’ll couch-surf as much as we can during the long weekends when our schedules line up.
Thanks for indulging me.
If you’re my friend, my client, or someone who’s ever bought one of my books, you’re making this adventure possible.