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#015 Target Goal: Fifty Two
Scattered thoughts around resolutions for 2021, ideas on simplicity, and four questions we ask ourselves before taking on new clients
Common Discourse is a free weekly briefing designed to help others (and myself) think through creativity, focus, and intentional work. It hits your inbox every Tuesday at 9:17am. If you love it, please consider sharing it with a friend.
Target Goal: Fifty Two
I really do feel like I’ve spent the entire year of 2020 looking for new things to spend my money on, when in reality it was probably a good year to be saving, whatever that means. (This is me trying to be funny about saving money and living in LA)
I bought a bunch of stuff to make cocktails at home, spent money on skateboarding stuff to revive an old hobby of mine, and now have a lot of new clothes that nobody can even see me in besides the mirror in my living room. Had to keep the fit pics healthy in the camera roll I guess.
New Year’s morning consisted of me, Mackenzie, and Addie sitting around asking each other what we want to eat for breakfast for 3 hours until it was lunch time. And while they were talking about resolutions they have for this year I was loading up my cart with snowboarding gear that was way too expensive but I felt like I needed it anyway.
“Do you have any resolutions this year, Alex?”
“I haven’t really thought about it. Uhh, I want to write more. I want to write 52 newsletters this year. Maybe save more money and think longer term since I’m getting older. I also need to eat something before I freak out, it’s already noon.”
That’s once per week. I’ve always wanted to write more. “Writing more” has been my resolution for the last 3 years and I have published the same amount of writing every year since then—meaning the systems I put in place to succeed have sucked in the past.
While the girls tossed around more food ideas, I revisited James Clear’s article titled Avoid the Second Mistake. I’m bad at reading while others are talking, the words on the page just turn into what I’m hearing…
“Breakfast burrito from Doubting Thomas? Oh, how about Nick’s Diner in Chinatown? What if we just make avocado toast at the house?”
I was able to highlight this excerpt amidst all the murmur:
One mistake is just an outlier. Two mistakes is the beginning of a pattern. Killing this pattern before it snowballs into something bigger is one reason why learning how to get back on track quickly is an essential skill for building good habits.
I passed on brunch and went home to eat one of those Trader Joe’s Chicken Wraps with Pesto Vinaigrette, (not because I was trying to save money and only since it was going to expire) and go write for a couple hours. I also didn’t buy the snowboard gear…yet.
I started January 1st by saving money and spent time writing. Maybe this is the year my habits really do change. If anything from that article, I’m trying to remember that consistency > perfection.
I’m aiming for 52 newsletters this year, but if you don’t hear from me for a little while, check in.
Don’t let me miss twice.
Ideas From Me
It's important to stop and have a discussion when you hear "We just want something simple."
From the client's perspective, this could mean that they think the job may require less work of you. And maybe in return, they'll get a better price.
Simple, as many people know it, can be lazy. Simple done wrong means you've landed on something that everyone has seen before. If simple is done right, you end up with something that is easy to understand, but feels fresh and memorable through small details.
Just make sure you're talking about the same simple.
II. FOUR QUESTIONS
We left a decent amount of money on the table this year because of the shift in priorities we made in the type of projects we choose to engage in. At some point you realize that money isn't the end all. Mental health, sustainability, and team growth are all things that compensate in exchange for the work you do. And often times, pay more than the dollar.
Four questions we tried to ask ourselves before accepting any project in 2020:
Do we have the feeling that this client or person will treat us with respect and kindness?
Do we have the feeling that the results of this project will lead to more work that we want to be making in the future?
Does this pay enough to get us to whatever is next?
Additionally, can it buy a small window of time to relax, reset, and take time off between the next thing?
Quote From Somebody Else
Often, people encounter ideas that are spreading like wildfire.
The problem with a wildfire is that not only is it out of control, but it leaves nothing but destruction in its wake.
Build an idea that spreads like wildflowers instead.
— Seth Godin
Links Worth Sharing
✍️ Is Substack The Media Future We Want? by Anna Wiener
📚 The Passion Economy and the Future of Work by Li Jin
📺 Emmet Shine, founder of Gin Lane, on ‘Relationship Design”
🍔 I miss going out to eat so badly. I was looking at this Eater article and realized there are still so many restaurants in LA that I haven’t tried yet that are still open for take-out. Try something new this week if you’re local.
Thanks for another week!
Common Discourse is a weekly briefing designed to help others (and myself) think through creativity, focus, and intentional work. It hits your inbox every Tuesday at 9:17am.
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