Reflecting on wild success

While cleaning out my blog drafts (150+ had accumulated over the years), I came across a post that I had started writing in February 2009. Part of the draft had been incorporated into this imagination of wild success, but the draft had more details I had never gotten around to posting. It’s been almost five years since then, so I thought I’d dust it off and see what had happened.

What would wild success look like? Thinking about this helps me figure out where I want to go and how I want to get there. The picture is still fuzzy and I know it’ll change over time, but it’s interesting to see what’s in it and what isn’t.

Here’s what a day in my future wildly successful life could look like:

Life is fantastic. I’m happy, I’m making a difference doing something I love doing, and I smile every day. I wake up at 5:00am to kisses, cats, music, light, and colors. I exercise a little in the morning, to help me wake up and get the day off to an energetic start. I have a delicious and healthy breakfast with loved ones – fresh fruits in season, steel-cut oats, fluffy pancakes, or other favorites. Then I clear the kitchen table, do my morning planning, and work on some fun, creative things: brainstorming, writing blog posts and articles, and developing prototypes and systems. I snack on nearby fruits and nuts throughout the morning. I may launch a new information product before lunch, or at least once a week. The payments start rolling in.

As it turns out, 5 AM is much too early for me. 8 AM is more reasonable. Yes to kisses and cats (technically, cat – only Neko is allowed in the bedroom). Reading this reminded me that I should set my alarm to some music instead of the chime that I set during my last system restore. Lights and colours are accomplished with bedside lamp and smartphone. I don’t bother with exercise unless I really need to wake up fast; with enough sleep, I usually wake up well-rested. Our breakfast routines have settled into plain rice and fried egg, occasionally with beef tapa; sometimes oatmeal or congee if we make a large batch. I work on the kitchen table because I like the sunlight, although I also like using the desk I’ve set up downstairs. I decided against the information-product route, at least for now; I’d rather learn, explore, and share for free.

We have a light and yummy lunch: leftover pasta, salad, soup, or something like that. Then I work on more routine tasks: testing code, editing and formatting documents, answering mail, following up with people. I also check on the status of my delegated tasks, and things are going well. Towards the end of the day, I wind down by doing chores. Sometimes we take a walk to pick up new books or groceries. We exercise, make dinner, and take care of other things. I spend some time connecting with others socially, too – writing on my blog, connecting with people online, calling people. The day ends on a happy and thankful note.

Routine tasks get deferred to low-energy time at some point during the week, now that I’ve learned to be less guilty about my inbox. Things are going well with delegation. =) Chores continue to be a great way to wind down, although I tend to do library walk after lunch so that I can get some exercise and sunlight. I’ve decided to not bother with making phone calls, although I’ll dip into social networks at the beginning and end of my day. Google Helpouts has become an interesting way to schedule interaction, too.

The income from investments covers my basic expenses, freeing me up to work on information products and experiment with things I’m interested in. I’ve figured out how to create and capture lots of value using the Internet, and I enjoy making little experiments and creating value. The money from that goes into my “retirement” fund (which is really just about freeing up even more of my time to work on larger projects), and into a few luxuries. Our lifestyles remain simple, and our expenses are minimal.

I crunched the numbers for last year, and I was surprised to find that my (theoretical) capital gains exceeded my expenses by a healthy margin. Yay! This and other things mean I can experiment with giving what I know away for free / pay what you want, which results in much less friction and much more happiness (at least for me). =) Our lifestyle is pretty much the same as it was in 2009, except that I buy a slightly wider range of groceries and I occasionally buy tools.

I visit the Philippines at least once a year, and I sometimes stay there for a while so that I can hang out with friends and try different experiences. When my friends are busy working, I work remotely, creating more things and trying things out.

It works out to every other year or so. Last time, we stayed for a month, which was much more awesome than staying for just two weeks. =)

I regularly give presentations to companies, universities, and other groups, and I have a good workflow for putting those online and helping people learn from them. I help organize virtual and in-person events, bringing people together for great conversations. I experiment with ideas for helping people connect and collaborate. Sometimes I coach people, too.

Semi. Writing and drawing is much more fun than giving presentations, and I have a good workflow for putting my sketches online. I help organize a couple of meetups in Toronto, and I’m getting pretty comfortable setting up online conversations. And yes, I’m experimenting with helping people connect through Google Helpouts, and a lot of those conversations look like coaching. Funny how that works out…

I enjoy playing some favorite tunes on the piano, drawing diagrams and pictures, and writing about life and technology. I enjoy sewing, and my wardrobe is full of clothes that make me feel happy and creative.

Nope on the piano and the sewing, but yep on the drawing and writing. My wardrobe is pretty much the same it was back then (aside from the addition of a few tech-fabric shirts and pants). It’s better-tracked, though! <laugh>

It’s amusing to unearth old notes and reflect on how things actually worked out, and how my tastes haven’t changed much over the years. What I’d sketched lines up closely with how I live, but that’s because my wants are small. I knew back then that I would probably do an experiment like this, and that helped me save for it. Here I am, learning things I hadn’t even put on my list. =) What will the next five years be like? I’m not sure yet. If it’s more of the same, that will be awesome; and if it’s different, I’m sure it will be awesome too.

  • Raymond Zeitler

    Has your idea of Wild Success changed at all? For example, does it still mean you do chores? I think I wouldn’t mind if chores were not part of my life. :)

    • http://sachachua.com sachac

      Cooking, tidying, and other chores are still part of my idea of wild success. =) Let me explain why.

      My parents have maids, and that’s also how we grew up as kids. When I moved to Canada almost 9 years ago, I adapted to the independent lifestyles people have here. I did my first loads of laundry as a graduate student. When I started working, I made cooking part of my routine. I’ve gotten acquainted with the wonders of baking soda for clearing out sink drains. We do most of our chores and batch-cooking during the weekend, and weekdays just require a little tidying up, some dishes, and the ever-present rituals of feeding the cats and scooping out the litter boxes. Occasionally one of the cats decides it’s not a litter box day, but that’s usually easy to clean up. Chores and errands turn out to be pretty good couple bonding time; it helps that W- is totally fantastic. There’s still plenty of time for creative work during the rest of the week, so it’s not like the chores get in our way. In fact, it can be quite relaxing to wash the rest of the dishes and utensils that don’t just go straight into the dishwasher.

      We visited the Philippines for a month last December. As tempting as it was to get used to having help, we decided to still do our own laundry (by hand – no washing machine at home, since the laundrywoman took care of everything) and take care of other little things. My parents sometimes admire the independence with which we live (no maids! no cook! no driver!). Household staff troubles are often a topic of conversation, whether it’s infighting, or the difficulty of finding someone good, or whatever. But at the same time, they’ve grown so comfortable with having maids around that they find it hard to imagine life without them. Jeanna has been with them for years and is the only one who knows where everything is. So their retirement plans will probably have to include the finances for a maid and the potential hassle of management or trust.

      I’m willing to delegate tasks directly related to scaling up sharing: turning podcasts into transcripts, pulling out questions and answers for blog posts, and doing other things that are optional but useful. I don’t want to get used to having the housecleaning automatically taken care of. Instead, I’d rather get better at having the right level of expectations (it’s good to calibrate these carefully with your spouse or partner, if you have one!) and at enjoying the work of maintaining one’s life. Maybe things will change as we get busier, but for now, chores are actually a useful part of my life. =)