Big Goals & Small Bets

It’s been a long time since I’ve last felt motivated to move forward towards any larger goals. About six months actually. Before that, I had many plans that I had started before one day in July when I woke up and thought “It wouldn’t be fair to anyone involved for me to start something and then die.” So I put almost every plan on pause.

Notice I said almost every plan. In the end I reduced my goals down to one: getting my S-ICD surgery completed. I was in no way willing to move forward with large plans when I wasn’t sure if I would wake up the next morning. (This is not a pleasant feeling, and I hope you never have to experience it.) This was one hell of a gatekeeper for me but I am happy to say that after six months of waiting I have crossed off this goal. My chances of sudden death have extraordinarily decreased and I can now move on to other things.

Which brings me to today. I had surgery last Wednesday and I’ve spent the last four days laying in bed recovering, which yielded plenty of time for me to think. But, since thoughts alone mean nothing, I spent this morning documenting the goals I have for 2023. They’re big goals but they aren’t huge. They’re all realistic and attainable if I apply myself. They’re also all SMART goals, so I can track them on a monthly basis. What is measured, improves. So now I have goals. ✅

Which brings me to my next topic. For the past year I’ve been thinking on what I want to do with my life as I am well aware that my long term goals end with me being a solopreneur again. To that end, I’ve been following quite a few folks talking about this on Twitter and yesterday I stumbled across Daniel Vassallo when someone linked to a very interesting Medium post he wrote, Only Intrinsic Motivation Lasts. Once I started reading it, I was immediately pulled in as I am far from intrinsically motivated to work for someone else. There’s nothing wrong with working for someone else, mind you. In fact it is likely the absolute best possible outcome for most people. It’s just not my happy spot.

Since I enjoyed the Medium post, I kept reading and found one thing that popped out at me: his idea of Small Bets. Instead of focusing on a single large idea, focus on many smaller ones. Multiple income streams is the path to antifragility, which is a long term goal of mine, and it allows you to experiment with new things.

After quite a bit of consideration, I’ve decided on two small bets I’m going to make this year.

First, I’m starting a home services business. This is one of the ideas that I put on pause back in July, which means it’s roughly 80% complete and waiting for a few more things to go live.

I’ve also decided to author and release my first information product; a non-fiction book around the technical portions of starting a business. I can do this from rote memory, but I’ve met many people who struggle with it. I’m hopeful that I can help a few people get their business off the ground a bit easier.

I can do both of these while maintaining my day job as well, which is a nice side benefit. Now I have small bets as well. ✅

Health Jeremy

A New Year, A New Me

I’m really not even sure where to start writing here as the last six months have been something of a blur and I really couldn’t tell you much of what happened beyond highlights. So I shall skip those six months and start at today’s beginning, because the beginning is wherever we want it to be, no?

For those who may not be aware of my situation, about a year ago, I suffered a cardiac arrest and had a close brush with death. Tomorrow, I’ll be having surgery to have an S-ICD (a type of implantable defibrillator) implanted. It’s taken quite a while to get to this point, and while I’m relieved that it’s finally happening, I must admit that I’m a bit frustrated by the delay. I had a lot of plans that I had to put on hold until this surgery could be scheduled, and I’m eager to get back on track.

Now that it is (finally) happening I am able to move forward in finding a good use for my precious days, and believe I am fully on track to meet the deadline I set for myself, even if I don’t truly know what that entails. Winging it has always worked out well for me thankfully.

It’s almost like I am at a transition point between a life I used to live, and the life that is right in front of me. This really isn’t a bad place to be.


Precious Days

Me, contemplating.

I just got back from a much needed vacation on Kauai with Holly and three other very good friends. Going into the trip, I had Intentions. Yes, with a capital I. I accomplished some of them but not most, for various reasons.

Mainly I had intended to write something while there but most of the time was spent doing not much of anything beyond contemplating, watching sunrises & sunsets, eating great food, lounging by the pool, and watching sea turtles play in the waves. Looking back, I’m confident I made the right choices pretty continually there; I needed the break desperately.

What was I contemplating, you ask? Well, a lot of things really, but the majority centered around what I now understand are pretty massive changes in how I view the world and my place in it. I guess dying will do that to you.

Anywho, in the above picture (that I didn’t know Holly was taking) I was standing and watching the waves roll in and ended up having a conversation with myself about what I want to do with the rest of my life, as one does, and while I had been going back and forth on whether or not I truly wanted to commit myself to more effort a voice popped in my head that said “There are still dragons to slay.” As you would expect this struck me as odd, and not just because it was entirely random and seemingly unrelated to the train of thought I was attempting to follow. I also had no good idea what it meant at the time.

Fast forward to last night, where I somehow stumbled across this ~year old post from Simon Sarris: The Most Precious Resource is Agency. The timing was auspicious to say the least, as agency is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and a lot of my contemplation centered around it when I was on Kauai. A good portion of the remaining contemplation centered around this quote that I cannot get out of my head..

“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news”

John Muir

I’ve always had high agency. John Muir also seems like someone who had high agency, but I would hesitate to even begin to compare myself to him. Even so, the quote resonates with me for many reasons but mainly the fact that someone put their thoughts into words and then acted to change the world around them. A malleable world, indeed.

I’ve also discovered the answer to what in the hell “There are still dragons to slay.” means. I initially thought it was something to do with business as that’s just how I think, but now realize it applies to all parts of my life. There are many things I’ve struggled with, from childhood to current day, that are somewhat easily within my control but I’ve always essentially ignored them and hoped for the best. These are my very own dragons, many of which I have lovingly nurtured through the years. Unfortunately, while “ignore it and it will go away” has largely worked out well for me, a number of the dragons I have left unsupervised have turned into fearsome beasts in my absence, which has caused enough issues that I’m now making a list of my own personal dragons that I get to hunt down and slay. It’s an enlightening experience to say the least, even if it is immediately frustrating a good portion of the time.

I’m giving myself one year of my life – which could theoretically be a sizable percentage of my remaining time on earth – to move from feeling like I am losing precious days to feeling like I am embracing every precious day and living it to it’s fullest.

Something tells me it’s going to be a busy year.

Jeremy Writing

Day 16 – Changing It Up

It’s now the end of May and I have been mostly successful in my daily writing challenge. As long as you don’t count weekends that is. Regardless of all that, I’m very glad I did it and will continue writing, both daily when the mood strikes me, as well as a weekly post on something more substantive that I’ve been learning about.

I’ve noticed a couple interesting results of writing regularly; namely that it’s easier to meditate, and I am able to string together more coherent sentences when speaking. Honestly those two things alone make the exercise worth it.

Lastly, with my birthday coming up tomorrow this seems a fitting end as I embark symbolically on the next year of my life. Onward and upward!

Business Jeremy Tools

Day 15 – Systems

You’ll perhaps notice that there is no day 13 or 14 post, which would yet again be due to the fact that it was the weekend, during which I have little motivation to write. I tend to use weekends for true rest and relaxation time so far this year, but I feel like that is (somewhat thankfully) coming to an end for me soon so I’m working to build routines into habits that will allow me to accomplish my goals. In other words, I’m building systems.

Given the above combined with the fact that I am spending a holiday authoring systems for Rytāvi Corp in Notion, it seems appropriate to write about today.

To me, systems are nothing more than a collection of standardized processes that allow you to perform the same task in the same manner repeatedly. There are however two different kinds of systems that I think about: personal systems and organizational systems. For personal systems, it’s simply enforcing (either consciously or not) specific steps to accomplish things you want to do in your life. For example we recently moved from a regular drip coffee maker to a pour over coffee pot, which required a new process for Holly & I making coffee in the morning:

  1. Grind the beans the night before.
    This is because we use a burr grinder that introduces a significant amount of static electricity to the grounds. Grinding the beans the night before allows much of it to dissipate, which means our counters stay much cleaner.
  2. Fill the kettle the night before.
  3. Wash the pot and filter the night before so they’re ready in the morning.
  4. The first person in the kitchen turns on the kettle and dumps the grounds into the filter.
  5. Whomever is in the kitchen next pours the hot water in the filter, and the next person that comes by tops it off again. Repeat until the pot is full.

It’s a pretty straightforward process, and not really something Holly & I had to discuss much because there are only two of us, it’s a simple task we both knew how to tackle independently, and we’re both functioning adults. In a small group this is frequently all you need to end up with an organic system. Nobody specifically planned it, and it seemingly created itself because it was simple enough for two people to just fall into doing it. This is a pretty common thing to happen in small group dynamics, but it doesn’t work so well when you scale the group.

When you’re building a business, you’re working with larger groups which means you need to create written processes for everyone to follow when working through a task. If the processes are followed regularly, you’ll be able to expect the same result every time from your system.

All of the above paragraph is barring unforeseen circumstances, which is where contingencies come into play, but I’m not writing about those today.

Creating processes is not the most difficult task in the world, but I couldn’t find much useful content on the topic when I originally realized that I needed to build processes. So, appropriately enough, I created a process to build individual and team processes that accommodate larger organizational systems.

  1. Determine what you’re building a process for – One thing I’ve learned here is that this is not always what I think I’m building a process for at first. I once built a system for a specific, straightforward technical task that (now) takes an average of seven minutes to complete and by the end of it I realized I was building a system to accommodate distributed scheduling instead of a process for performing the technical task. You might not realize this until the end, which is fine. In this example, I ended up documenting the technical process separately after I completed the scheduling process that allowed us to accomplish the technical process.
  2. Determine the end state – What’s the end goal? What does it look like? “We need to do X” isn’t an end state. “We need to do X in a way that Jane in accounting can look at gauge Y and explain to Joe in HR how much we can stretch the budget for a promising new hire.” is an end state. Without context your processes will not work, and your systems will fail.
  3. Walk yourself through the process at least once – Take detailed notes along the way with every step you take. At the end of this, go back through the notes and remove the steps that aren’t actually needed and expand on the steps that are needed with sufficient context and detail for someone to read the step 2 to 3 times and complete it themselves. Do not assume the person following the steps has any knowledge of the task.
  4. Document the process in a step-by-step fashion – Include screenshots, videos, pictures, or whatever else is needed so that anyone reading this can understand exactly what they need to do next.

    Make sure to add explanations where context is useful. You might have noticed I explained why we grind our coffee beans the night beforehand in the above example I gave of a personal system; this is because if you’re writing processes that contribute to overall systems a team member is inevitably going to think “Why the hell do I have to grind the beans the night before? I’m tired and will do it in the morning.” Without context, this is a reasonable thought process. With context, said team member will realize that they’ll end up cleaning the counters the next morning if they don’t grind the beans the night before.
  5. Do a dry run of the process – You can walk through the process yourself if you have no other option, but the best results come from finding a willing candidate who has never gone through the process before and see if they achieve the same results you do.
  6. Evaluate the process as part of the overall system – Sometimes you’ll get to the end, having documented a process that works just fine and dandy but doesn’t fit nicely into your overall systems. If you end up there, you’ll have to decide whether to adjust the process you just created or whether to adjust the overall system(s) in play to accommodate it.
  7. Create a way to measure outcomes – Quite simply, in order for a system to work, the processes must work and people must follow them every time. Given that people are people, you’ll want a way to measure the outcomes of both individual processes and the overall systems they collectively comprise.

That’s all I have to say on that today. Maybe one day I’ll follow my own advice and create a good system for writing blog posts.


Day 12 – What Matters

Lately I’ve been spending a decent amount of time working on being conscious of my emotional response to situations, which has lead to me spending a larger than expected amount of time thinking about what matters to me. I believe this is a natural result of focusing more on embracing stoicism because my emotional responses are going to vary depending on what level of concern I have for a particular event happening (or not). This makes sense to me because stoicism basically breaks down to “mastering one’s emotions” when I think about it, so that’s how I end up framing my thoughts.

Side note: I have weird ways of thinking about things, and frequently can’t remember words in real time when speaking. Instead I just roll along with conceptual approximations in my head and try to describe things to people when I’m talking to them. Sure does make for interesting conversations at times, but I digress as this post isn’t about that.

Anyways, this whole process led me to post this idle thought on Twitter yesterday.

In recent weeks I’ve been listing out Things That Matter to Me, and I’m discovering some interesting results. As it turns out, there are many things that I thought mattered that really don’t, and many things that I’ve always known matter to me but it turns out they matter a whole hell of a lot more I believed they did. I was surprised though when I realized there is at least one thing that I used to completely disregard, but after contemplating it for weeks… oh boy does it matter to me.

What’s that you ask? To put it simply, it’s people who can’t control their emotions in the slightest and then try to hide that fact. I’m also curious how many folks aren’t aware of it, but personal agency is a separate topic.

In the end, being around people who do this is just disheartening and I’ve realized having those kind of people around me is a total waste of my time. Most of the things that they complain about – and it’s generally quite a bit – can be boiled down to them dealing with the feedback loop from immediate extreme emotional responses; when I watch them experiencing this it leaves me sitting there staring at them quizzically.

So I’ve decided that life is too short to deal with people who default to extreme emotional responses. I’ve also decided that I would like to be a better person on a continual basis. Because of those two things, I am reorganizing my life to remove people like those I described above, so I can surround myself with more people that will make me a better person.

Note: I already have a number of people that make me a better person but it’s always nice to have more.

Seems kind of simple now that I think about it and I’m mildly bummed that I didn’t figure this out earlier in life. Regardless of that, I am looking forward to see what effects it has on my life.

Health Jeremy

Day 11 – Gratitude

Pins on my laptop bag.

I didn’t used to understand gratitude. What little time I spent thinking of it was generally followed by a brief moment of confusion before moving on to something else. I had no idea what I should be grateful for, nor who/what I was supposed to be grateful to.

Now I have a reminder every day at 9pm to pause for a moment of gratitude. I now realize I don’t need to express gratitude for any particular thing, or to any particular person/thing. For me, expressing a moment of gratitude is more of a pause in the everyday life where I force myself to contemplate my existence for a few moments, which inevitably ends up making me a bit happier. I guess you could say I experience a moment of grace.

I wish I had known previously how powerful this simple action could be. I would have started quite a bit sooner. It’s easy too. As this article tells us, it’s a simple three step process: Stop. Look. Appreciate.

Yes, the world is full of bad things. It’s also full of good things though. Thinking of one does not mean ignoring the other. So I would implore you to add this 30 seconds a day to your routine. You just might like the outcome.


Day 10 – Phone Calls

I’ve recently started spending a lot more time on the phone than I usually do. This is largely due to the fact that setting up a bunch of corporate entities is dealing with organizations that largely erase decades of technological development due to the bureaucracy they have to deal with. Granted, there are some services that try to make it simpler; I’ve used Northwest Registered Agent (whom I recommend for forming and maintaining your next corporate entity by the way) off and on for years and they have been adding features to the online portal at a steady clip. However, they still have to talk to you at least once for…. reasons?

Now, I’d largely stopped thinking about phone calls because I’d only made probably 10-20 calls year to date. Even customer facing calls are usually video conferences now, and those generally aren’t incoming calls that disturb me when I least expect it. It’s like a solicitor knocking on the door or people showing up unannounced to “drop in”; it used to happen all the time but it’s become drastically less frequent over the years and is largely considered rude. At least we can install video doorbells and ignore them now. (The dogs do not like this plan, they want to meet everyone. Alas, they are dogs and thus cannot open the door due to a lack of opposable thumbs.)

Google Assistant is a nice feature in that it screens calls and I can see a summary of what the call is about prior to answering it, but that still doesn’t cover all calls because if the caller is in my contacts it just rings straight through.

I personally look forward to phone calls going extinct. We have better technology now and I will prefer a high def video conference over a phone call any day. Especially if it’s scheduled.

Gardening Permaculture

Day 8 – Hügelkultur

First, you’ll notice there is a mysterious posting gap for days 6 & 7. That would be because I didn’t write them. Oh well, onwards and upwards.

Lately I’ve been reading up on hügelkultur (pronounciation here), and found a couple good posts on it that I have linked at the bottom of this post. It’s basically a system to use organic biomass to make the soil more fertile (due to the decomposition of the biomass along with the added insects that show up and help keep the soil healthy), improve water retention, and keep the soil warmer. It also drastically reduces the amount of soil you’ll need in a raised bed, which appealed to me because soil is not cheap in our area and I’m building raised beds in our back yard.

I am also intrigued by just how much warmer the soil stays, and will be devising some systems to measure that. I’d like to extend our growing season into the fall for sure, and as far into the winter as possible.

I decided to write about it since I needed a topic to come up with, I’m pretty sure there will be a sizable amount of gardening content in this blog over the summer and fall, and it’s pretty damn interesting.

There are a few things that I’m keeping in mind.

  • First and foremost would be using the correct biomass; I’m focusing on extra soil from our yard, some extra soil from planters we moved with, some branches and logs that I believe are alder, some wood and charcoal ashes from the grill and fire pit, and assorted compostable biomass from dead heading and pruning flowers and bushes around the yard.
  • Second, I’m trying to stay conscious of nitrogen lock, especially since I’m using barely seasoned logs for part of the foundation. This should only be an issue for 2-3 years and I think we can overcome this in the meantime by simply adding extra nitrogen to the soil. One of my favorite fertilizers, Alaska Fish Fertilizer (Amazon) is 5-1-1, so there is some nitrogen there, and I also use Osmocote (Amazon) pretty consistently, but I will also add some blood meal (Amazon) to the soil when I’m filling the beds if needed. I do need to find a test kit that works well and is cost effective, so please reach out to me if you have a recommendation.
  • Lastly, these aren’t the tallest beds in the world, so I’m working to be conscious of how deep the soil will be. If it’s too shallow, I won’t get the root structure I want to see.

For more info I’d recommend reading what is pretty much the most extensive Hügelkultur reference I’ve been able to find, as well as Half-Ass Hügelkultur for an example of mounded hügelkultur.


Day 5 – Gaming

I’ve been getting into gaming lately. Not video games, but board games. For many reasons I simply hadn’t played them earlier in life until recently I ended up close enough to some good friends who game that I was able to join them for a weekly game night. I’ve played a couple different games recently, mainly Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion but also, recently, Marvel United was a super fun game.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion is a super fun cooperative game that I’m glad I started with before moving on to Gloomhaven proper, which sounds quite a bit more daunting.

Marvel United is just flat out fun, with quick cooperative games that allow you to turn around a couple rounds in a single night. I picked up a copy of this for myself and am looking forward to playing it with Holly and whomever else I can track down in the house.

I find that gaming kind of “resets” my mind, helping me focus more than usual the next day. Highly recommended to pick it up as a hobby should you have the chance.